Well of course this month my choice of statue is a simple one – Jane Austen.
In 2017, the bicentenary of her death, the world’s first statue of Jane Austen was unveiled (by the Countess of Portsmouth) in the town of Basingstoke. The life-sized, bronze statue was commissioned by the Hampshire Cultural Trust, and was designed by artist Adam Roud. It shows Jane walking through the marketplace, a book tucked under her arm. The first twenty-five years of her life were spent in the nearby village of Steventon, and she knew Basingstoke well, so it was an appropriate place for the statue to be erected. To me, the astonishing thing is that it took so long for a statue of her to be made?
I’m not the only person delighted with the statue. Biographer Claire Tomalin commented: “Nothing could be better than a statue of Jane Austen hurrying across the market square to collect library books, do a little shopping or pick up her mother from Dr Lyford’s house – living the busy family into which she fitted the writing that has made her world famous.”
We don’t have a really clear idea of what Jane Austen looked like because the surviving portraits are amateurish and / or touched up. However, this statue satisfies me – she looks neat and elegant (which we know was the case) and I love the fact she holds a book.
There is now a replica of the statue at St Nicholas Church in Chawton. I wish I could have one for my back garden!!!
Susannah Fullerton: Lots of Jane Austen links
Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin
Susannah Fullerton: Jane & I, A Tale of Austen Addiction
Susannah Fullerton: Jane Austen and Crime
Susannah Fullerton: Happily Ever After: Celebrating Jane Austen’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’
Susannah Fullerton: A Dance with Jane Austen: How a Novelist and her Characters went to the Ball
The Jane Austen Society of Australia