Monday, February 14, 2011

Voting Opens Today for the Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story Contest

Welcome to my blog!  I am a historical romance writer journeying on the pathway to publication.  Today, the Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story Contest opens for voting.  It is sponsored by The Republic of Pemberley, a large site with a wealth of Austen information (which also includes full texts of all her novels), and editor Laurel Ann Nattress of   There are 84 total entries!  The popular vote to pick the top ten begins today.  Then, an editorial board will choose the winner, which will be published in a Jane Austen short story anthology to be published by Ballantine Books this fall.  So head over and check out all the stories--mine is #70, The Lost Portrait of Jane Austen.

Portraits of Jane Austen

In my short story, The Lost Portrait of Jane Austen, I imagined that an artist painted her a proper portrait.  But in real life, Jane Austen never sat for a formal portrait.   (In her family of 5 brothers and 1sister, all her brothers except her handicapped brother George had formal portraits.  Cassandra had a silhouette done.  This definitely reflects the place of women in those times, doesn't it?)

Jane's sister Cassandra did the famous pencil and watercolor sketch of her, below, around 1810 (Jane would have been 34 or 35).  It now resides in the National Portrait Gallery in London.   According to Jane biographer Claire Tomalin, this sketch was regarded as "inadequate and unflattering" by those who knew her.  But it is the only image we have of her that has been drawn from life.  People who knew Jane described Jane as having hazel eyes, round cheeks with high color, and curly hair. 

This unfinished sketch spawned every other portrait that has ever been painted of Jane.

A more flattering portrait based off of this sketch was commissioned by her family by a Mr. Andrews of Maidenhead, 1869, that is still owned by her family. (For reference, Jane died in 1817, so this was commissioned many years after her death.):

andrewswc.jpg (11693 bytes)

And here is a 1869 engraving, based off Mr. Andrews watercolor, used on the 1870 A Memoir of Jane Austen by her nephew Edward Austen-Leigh:

File:Jane Austen 1870.jpg

Here's one, based off the above engraving, which appeared on her biography by GE Mitton, 1905:

And then there's this one, called a "more sentimentalized Victorian version" of the above portrait:

This silhouette is owned by the National Portrait Gallery and was found in an old edition of Mansfield Park and inscribed with the words "L'aimable Jane.'"

Jane Austen, by Unknown artist, circa 1810-1815 - NPG  - © National Portrait Gallery, London

This pencil and watercolor sketch was found in the Prince Regent's librarian,  Rev. James Stanier Clarke's so called "Friendship Book," a personal album he kept of over a hundred drawings, verses, and autographs.  It is speculated to possibly be of Jane from the time she was invited to view the Prince Regent's library in 1815.  The book itself was sold at an estate sale to a used book dealer, and discovered in his shop in 1955.  You can read a scholarly article about it here.

And there you have it.  Makes you appreciate digital photography, doesn't it!!!

If you're interested, see more information at The Jane Austen Society of Australia,, and the National Portrait Gallery.