According to the TimesOnline, the next volume of Austen's work published by Wordsworth Editions will feature the "new" Jane Austen on the cover.
According to Wordsworth Editions, which sells millions of cut-price classic novels, the only authentic portrait of Jane Austen is too unattractive.Some will see this as a positive thing and some will recognize the hidden message in the decision to market an icon like Jane Austen on her looks rather than on the content of her books.
Helen Trayler, its managing director, said: “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.”
Patrick Stokes, of the Jane Austen Society, said: “She’s not a goddess. She has no copyright. It’s just what happens when someone is so popular, and if it brings her to a different readership then that’s good news.”I find this bit of silliness to be disturbing because it reminds me of how today's culture has managed to make stars out of people like Anna Nicole Smith, Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, etc. more based on their looks than on their very limited talent. The entertainment industry dumbed itself down long ago but thankfully I've developed an ability to tune out the noise. Do we really need to sell classic literature based on the looks of the authors now? Good grief.
Patrick Janson-Smith, a leading literary agent, said: “Portraits of modern authors are airbrushed the whole time, especially American lady authors of a certain age. It’s a shock to meet a writer when the reality falls a little short. We live in a shallow world where authors are increasingly sold on their appearance.”