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The Portrait of Jane Austen; Is it the writer’s or not?

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There is a well-known portrait of a little girl dressed in white who has been said for years to be the writer Jane Austen. The portrait in question has belonged to the Rice family for generations and they are in fact descendants of one of the writer’s brothers

According to the family, the portrait of Jane Austen should have been commissioned from Ozias Humphry in 1788 when the writer, then 12, visited relatives in Kent with her sister Cassandra.

It should all be very straightforward as there is also proof in the family accounts of the expenditure of 12 Guineas to the artist to make the portrait. But experts have always been of the opinion that this is not the portrait of Jane Austen, mainly because they believe that the dress could not have been from 1788, but it is a fashion of later years.

A couple of years ago a letter  from Fanny Caroline Lefroy who was a relative of Jane Austen (the mother was the daughter of one of the writer’s brothers) was found which assures that the portrait was authentic.

Lefroy was born three years after Jane Austen’s death but appears to have been familiar with the family’s matters. From the letter it appears that the painter was Johann Zoffany. New revelations on the mystery of Jane Austen’s portrait Lefroy’s letter appears to be authentic and if true, there would be no reason to doubt its content. At the time of Lefroy, no one wondered if the portrait was authentic or not, the doubts began from the 1930s onwards, therefore practically 100 years after the letter. You can read a The Guardian’s article about this mystery here.

Worked in many sectors including recruitment and marketing. Lucky to have found a soulmate who was then taken far too soon. No intention of moving on and definitely not moving to Thailand for the foreseeable future. Might move forward. Owned by a cat.

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A bookshop that sells books for the visually impaired opens in Paris

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Two French publishing houses have opened a specialized bookshop in Paris, in the Pantheon area, called the “Librairie des grands caractères”, a way to grant even the visually impaired the luxury of a walk among books.  And  the sensual pleasure of touching and breathing paper.

Customers are those who suffer from vision-related problems, due to disease or age and we are talking of over a million people in a country like France.

And these books are specialò the paper is made so as not to dazzle, the line spacing is studied, the contrast is never excessive, even and the character is not that of traditional books but an ad hoc one, called Luciole.

One more reason not to abandon reading on paper is, in the case of some totally or partially reversible eye diseases, its important rehabilitative power for sight.

Unfortunately the catalogue of books for visually impaired people is still very limited, it has only about 600 titles. 

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The Martian Sculpture in Woking Town Centre

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Designed by sculptor Michael Condron and opened in 1998 by Carol Vorderman, the sculpture stands seven metres high. It is situated at one end of Crown Square in Woking Town Centre. 
 
The “War of the Worlds” was mainly written while H.G Wells was living in Woking. He made Horsell Common, on the edge of the town, the landing site for his Martian invasion force. 
 
 Wells describes the Martians making use of their tripods, to travel around the Common.  In the Woking sculpture, tentacles protruding from the vehicle’s opening can be seen!  Fortunately, the sculpture is static! 
 
A few metres along the pavement lies the cylindrical pod, depicting the craft in which the Martians landed in Woking.  Patterned paving slabs represent the bacteria which ultimately destroyed the Martian invaders. 
 
The installation in 1998 marks the first publication of “War of the Worlds” in 1898 and confirms the town’s connection to H. G Wells.
This excerpt from the book describes the Martians progress on landing on Horsell Common.
 
Photo: © Copyright Colin Smith and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

“And this Thing I saw! How can I describe it? A monstrous tripod, higher than many houses, striding over the young pine trees, and smashing them aside in its career; a walking engine of glittering metal, striding now across the heather; articulate ropes of steel dangling from it, and the clattering tumult of its passage mingling with the riot of the thunder. A flash, and it came out vividly, heeling over one way with two feet in the air, to vanish and reappear almost instantly as it seemed, with the next flash, a hundred yards nearer. Can you imagine a milking stool tilted and bowled violently along the ground? That was the impression those instant flashes gave. But instead of a milking stool imagine it a great body of machinery on a tripod stand… Seen nearer, the Thing was incredibly strange, for it was no mere insensate machine driving on its way. Machine it was, with a ringing metallic pace, and long, flexible, glittering tentacles (one of which gripped a young pine tree) swinging and rattling about its strange body. It picked its road as it went striding along, and the brazen hood that surmounted it moved to and fro with the inevitable suggestion of a head looking about. Behind the main body was a huge mass of white metal like a gigantic fisherman’s basket, and puffs of green smoke squirted out from the joints of the limbs as the monster swept by me.”

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What is the Kindle Challenge and how to take part in it?

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kindle challenge

The Kindle Challenge is a new initiative by Amazon to encourage people to buy and read Kindle books, it’s an interesting concept that Kobo started years ago but then abandoned. 

Basically every month there will be some challenges and you will need to take part and complete them to gain badges. You can also earn credits to buy Kindle Books.  The challenges so far has been easy like reading a book, buying a book or subscribing to Kindle Unlimited. 

There is obviously a large marketing element but the Kindle Challenge can be fun for users by gamifying the experience users can be motivated to read more. 

How do I take part in the Kindle Challenge?

So far it is at a kind of pilot stage and you must have an invitation, there will be more invites sent in the next few months. Sadly you must live in the United States to take part for the time being. The Challenge might be extended to other countries in future, although there are no details yet. 

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