If anyone is in the vicinity of The Divinity School at Old Bodleian Library on 1st March, then may I respectfully suggest you might like to rush there to take part in the events for World Book Day which are centred around Jane Austen.
For one day only there will be a display of Jane Austen’s manuscripts from the Bodleian Library collections. This will include the newly acquired handwritten manuscript of her unfinished novel, The Watsons, which the Bodleian purchased last year. As their website tells us,
Extensively revised and corrected throughout, the manuscript is a testimony of Jane Austen’s efforts to give shape to the earliest ideas as they pour onto paper, as she reviews, revises, deletes and underscores. The Watsons is the very genesis of fiction from one of Britain’s greatest and best-loved writers.
Also on show will be Volume the First, a manuscript of Austen’s juvenilia.
And if that is not enough to tempt you, the much discussed “portrait ” of Jane Austen, now owned by Paula Byrne will be on display there, for you to ponder and discuss. Below is a shot of Deirdre Le Faye, Professor Kathryn Suthrland and Professor Claudia Johnson examining the picture in the recent BBC 2 documenatry, “The Real Jane Austen”. As you know I’m not convinced by the evidence put forward to “authenticate” the portrait thus far, but I can imagine if you are in the vicinity of the Library that you might care to see it for yourself.
And…can it get any more interesting? Well, yes it can… At lunchtime there will be a thirty minute lecture given by Kathryn Sutherland who is the Professor of Bibliography and Textual Criticism, St. Anne’s College, Oxford, on the subject of the Watsons entitled: The Watsons:Jane Austen Practising.
The lecture will take place at 1 p.m at the Convocation House, Bodleian Library. If you can’t make that lecture, you can hear some of her thoughts on The Watsons via a new Bodleian Library app for phones and iPads. Go here to read all about it.
I would love to go as I love to hear Professor Sutherland speak. But my family have suffered enough with all my Austen-related jaunts ;) If you do go, do let us know who it all goes; we’d be delighted to hear from you.