This weekend sees the conclusion of the annual Jane Austen Festival here in Bath, and a big week for the city’s famous daughter.
This year’s Festival marks the bicentennial anniversary of the writer’s death in 1817, with 10 days of celebratory events including the creation of a local beer in her honour.
Possibly of more note (literally) to all of us, though, was yesterday’s launch into circulation of the new £10 bank note, featuring a picture of Ms Austen on the reverse side.
For a woman who only lived a little over 40 years, publishing just a handful of novels, the scale of her influence in Britain some 200 years later is all the more remarkable.
And it seems she started something of a trend; the South West continues to punch well above its weight creatively.
For 75 years, the locally-based BBC Natural History Unit has been producing quality television, made famous through its work with David Attenborough, and still generates 25% of the world’s natural history programming. And who doesn’t know award-winning Wallace and Gromit were born in Bristol? Bath also lays claim to those with more culinary-flavoured creative talents, namely the nation’s favourite baking doyenne, Mary Berry.
The region’s more recent growth as a modern tech hub reflects the national trend for creative industries being the fastest growing industry sector. Popular with workers wishing to move away from London, Bath and Bristol are attractive to those wanting a better quality of life, while remaining within easy reach of the capital.
We’re growing talent here too with excellent universities across the two cities offering courses supporting the industry; two of AJ’s own talented studio team graduated from Bath Spa University.
Jane Austen’s legacy is set to continue for another 200 years.