Saturday, September 6, 2008

Jane Austen, Please Turn Round!

Jane Austen's work has been hugely inspirational in my life. I love all of her novels but my favourites are Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion.
I love the painting that Jane's sister Cassandra painted of her sitting in a rural scene in a blue dress. There is that tantalizing curve of her cheek, the fullness of her face that is hinted at in descriptions written about her by contemporaries. I always wished she could turn round so that we could see her face so I attempted a painting in which Jane turns to look at us.
I imagined Jane in Lyme Regis with her sister in 1804. In my book Effusions of Fancy I wrote a letter as though from Cassandra to accompany my painting:-
'What do you think of this little sketch? Do you remember the other sketch that I drew of you at Lyme? I had been puzzling over it and I decided that I should attempt to improve the proportions and I think it flatters you well. I had a fancy to make you turn in this drawing as though your name had just been called, so here you are, not looking in unwearied contemplation of the beautiful scenic views of Lyme but into the eyes of your dear family.'

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