Friday, March 23, 2007

Jane Austen's Makeover

Jane, before and after. Left: plain Jane, in the watercolor by her sister Cassandra. Right: the new Jane.

According to a story in The Times, the publisher Wordsworth Editions has commissioned a new portrait of Jane Austen to grace the covers of their budget-price editions of her novels. Helen Trayler, Wordsworth's managing director, tells The Times: “The poor old thing didn’t have anything going for her in the way of looks. Her original portrait is very, very dowdy. It wouldn’t be appealing to readers, so I took it upon myself to commission a new picture of her. We’ve given her a bit of a makeover, with make-up and some hair extensions and removed her nightcap. Now she looks great — as if she’s just walked out of a salon.”

Other great writers may soon receive makeovers. Trayler continued: “Virginia Woolf wasn’t much of a looker. I’m also considering making over George Eliot, who was frumpy, and William Wordsworth, who was pretty hideous. Most poets were really unattractive, with the one exception being Tennyson, who has wonderful bone structure.”

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