Ring in the new year
HE coming year is one for book lovers. The 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen (below) will, inevitably, set the county of Hampshire a-flutter (www.janeausten200.co.uk). Jane Austen’s House Museum (her home) in Chawton will host shows and talks, including a Regency Week (June 17–25) co-hosted with nearby Alton and Hampshire Cultural Trust’s ‘The Mysterious Miss Austen’ loan exhibition will tour Winchester, Gosport and Basingstoke. Her final resting place, Winchester Cathedral, will run tours; in Basingstoke, there will be a sculpture trail; and Jane Austen ‘Big Picnics’ across Hampshire will offer the opportunity to sup as Regency folk did.
The British Library, London NW1, has an exhibition of Austen’s teenage writings (January 10–February 19) and, in the same year that the city’s iconic Royal Crescent turns 250, the Jane Austen Festival in Bath—where Northanger Abbey, also 200 years old, is set—will be bigger than ever (September 8–17, www. janeaustenfestivalbath.co.uk).
Further literary landmarks include the bicentenary of Rob Roy; 130 years since Sherlock Holmes first appeared in print (in Beeton’s Christmas Annual) and 125 years since the first publication of the stories in book form in The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes; 125 years since the death of Tennyson; 80 years of The Hobbit; and 75 years of The Famous Five.
We will also mark 20 years since the appearance of a certain wizard in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and 10 years since the last book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which is still the fastestselling in history. Among the celebrations will be a British Library show on magic (from October 20) and a film and live-orchestra show at the Royal Albert Hall (May 11–14).
Austen shares her bicentenary with the opening of the Dulwich Picture Gallery and the introduction of the
TElgin Marbles to the British Museum. The Blue Plaque scheme was inaugurated 150 years ago, the same year illustrator Arthur Rackham was born.
In July, it’ll be 100 years since the Battle of Passchendaele started and, in August, a century since Wilfred Owen met his poetic mentor, Siegfried Sassoon, in an Edinburgh hospital—both had shell shock.
The year 1917 also saw the Royal Family change its name from Saxecoburg-gotha to the more warfriendly Windsor, dropping ‘all German titles and dignities’ overnight —Prince Louis of Battenberg stayed with his son at a naval base in Scotland and wrote in the visitors’ book ‘arrived Prince Hyde, departed Lord Jekyll’. Additionally that year, the Cottingley Fairies (top right) were supposedly captured on camera by two children—it was 60 years before they admitted it had been a hoax.
The Georgian Group was founded 80 years ago, in a year that saw George VI crowned, the National Maritime Museum opened and 999 calls introduced. Other 1937 happenings included the first issue of The Dandy, the births of Jilly Cooper and Bobby Charlton and the death of J. M. Barrie.
Actor Vic Oliver was the first Desert Island Discs castaway in 1942, 75 years ago; John Lennon met Paul Mccartney at