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Padgate Library to mark 200 years since death of Jane Austen

The novelist, who is known primarily for her six major titles which commented on the British gentry at the end of the eighteenth century, died at her home in Hampshire in 1817, aged just 41.

To commemorate 200 years since her death, there will be a live theatre performance at Padgate Library on Friday 6 October at 7pm, to bring Austen into the modern world.

In a show, entitled Thrills and Quills, professional theatre company, LipService, will take a comic look at her letters, examine the vagaries of the Georgian postal system and wonder what witty words Jane could have conjured up with a Twitter account.

They will examine the world of communication from quill pen to SnapChat. With extracts from Jane Austen’s novels, letters to family members and wickedly funny observations on her neighbours, the show will look at the vivid account Jane conjures of everyday life.

As part of the commemorations, there will also be a writing bureau at the library from Monday 25 – Wednesday 27 September – titled, The Travelling Letter Exchange.

The bureau is a contemporary specially commissioned piece of furniture inspired by what Jane Austen would have used to pen important letters, along with some of her famous novels, including Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.

Library users and school children will be invited to sit down and write a letter to help create a new archive of letters that shows what it is like to live in the north west in 2017.

Everyone who writes a letter will receive a letter in return from another participant. A selection of the letters will be published in a special eBook next year.

Chris Everett, senior LiveWire advisor for reading, said: “Jane Austen may be famous for writing some of our most celebrated classic novels, but many people don’t know about her prolific letter writing.

“Her letters documented everyday life in the 1800s and give us a real insight into, not only what life was like back then, but also what peoples’ passions and interests were.

“In today’s digital world – where we can have instant contact with someone on the other side of world via the internet – this is an invitation to take a leaf out of Jane Austen’s book; sit back, reflect and write a letter that may be cherished for years to come.”

LiveWire is one of 22 library services across the region that is taking part in the Jane Austen 200 celebration, thanks to funding from Arts Council England and Time To Read.

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