well to be precise, a set of six Hanoverian stamps has recently been issued by the Royal Mail:

I thought you might like to see them as they are of course of interest for our period, for Jane Austen lived entirely during the long reign of George III, below:

And she was subject to the Regency of his son, from 1811 till her death in 1817. The Prince Regent eventually became George IV in 1820 on his father’s death. He is shown on his stamp, below:

Like the Hanoverians, Jane Austen has also  been the subject of a series of British stamps. They were  issued by the Post Office in 1975 to celebrate the bicentenary of her birth on 16th December 1775 ( though the stamps were actually  issued as a set on the 22nd October 1975). My relatives all over the country were put on the alert and, in addition to the mint set,  I received 15 first day covers: here is one of them, sent from Petworth by my two dear maiden great aunts, with my childhood address digitally removed( for sanity’s sake!)

The stamps, a set of four, were designed by Jeffery Matthews, the famed postage stamp designer,and the images war drown by Barbara Brown, the illustrator.

They show Mr Darcy, Emma and Mr Woodhouse, The Crawford siblings and Catherine Morland.

The notes accompanying the stamps –Portraits from the Jane Austen Gallery– written by Alan Martin Harvey, are interesting to look back at now, as they are ever-so-slightly incorrect and are somewhat dated in their view of the novels as only romances, in my humble opinion…I doubt the next set of commemorative stamps to be issued commemorating Jane Austen will be accompanied by such simple interpretations of the novels…

Mr Darcy…

The most important events in Pride and Prejudice ,it has been said, are that a man changes his manners and a young lady changes her mind. It is Elizabeth Bennet who changes her mind , but it takes Mr Darcy a long while to persuade her to do so by changing his arrogant manners. In Chapter 58, however, she consents to become his wife and the mistress of Pemberley, his stately home.

Yes, well……

Mary and Henry Crawford…

When the London sister and bother, Mary and Henry Crawford , invade Mansfield Park, country home of the Bertram family, trouble enters with them. Henry attempts the seduction of Fanny Price, the Bertrams’ poor relation. Failing in it, he elopes with their unhappily married daughter. Mary fancies the ordinand Edmund, heir to the estate, but he rejects her in favour of poor Fanny. The profound contrast, social and moral, between the worlds of Mary and Fanny , is what, in the main, what Mansfield Park is about.

Can you spot the deliberate error in this paragraph ? Had Edmund been there heir to Mansfield Park  I think the story would have taken a very different turn, don’t you?

Emma and Mr Woodhouse…

Superficially , Mr Woodhouse, father of Emma is an “old pet”. Scratch him, however and you find a throughly selfish old man. In Emma herself, the emotional progress from brittle head to tender heart is slow but, finally, she persuades her father by a wile to accept as a son-in-law, the patient Mr Knightley.

Really? I think I may have read a different version….

Finally, we have Catherine Morland…

Northanger Abbey is a sly burlesque of the Gothic extravaganzas- typified by the Mysteries of Udolpho- popular when it was written. Catherine Morland, an engaging young hoyden, entertains romantic hopes of a visit to the Abbey, but she is sent home disillusioned, to find consolation in the arms of Henry, second son of the odious General Tilney.

And I thought Catherine had left her tomboyishness behind her she left the schoolroom….

What Jane Austen would have made of these stamps we cannot tell: she of course would have found the concept of postage stamps alien as they were not available for her use during her lifetime. They were invented by Rowland Hill in 1837 and first issued for sale in 1840. I have always loved the stamps for, at the time, commemorative issues by the Post Office were very rare and  special events. These stamps were terribly popular with the public. If I recall correctly even the children’s television programme, Blue Peter featured them! It was a real achievement to have stamps issued by the Post Office commemorating and event or a person. Despite some reservation on the colours used, as they appear to be from a very 1970s palette now that  I look back at them, and a sadness that only four were issued,  I treasure my sets ( despite grinding my teeth about the comments on the accompanying card). Jane Austen was, in fact the first female literary figure to have a dedicated set of stamps issued in this way- the three Bronte sisters (with Mrs Gaskell) were next to be commemorated in 1980. I do hope that in 2017 we get another set, and that this time all six completed novels are included.