New editions of Jane Austen's novels designed to reach a wider audience

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The Telegraph reports that Headline Books will release new editions of Jane Austen’s novels in May 2006 with covers designed to attract a wider audience of readers.

Jane Austen is to be relaunched as a romantic novelist in the style of Danielle Steel and Dame Barbara Cartland.

Her six novels are to be given glossy, pastel covers designed to appeal to women put off by the idea of reading a 19th century writer.

Mansfield Park, for example, features a couple in Regency evening dress linked by a shooting star, while Pride and Prejudice has a swallow, flowers and a bonneted beauty with her back to a whip-wielding dandy.

The editions will be subtitled “A Classic Romance”, and quotes by celebrities will adorn the jackets. They will be piled high in airports and supermarkets from May.

While these are very pretty and affordable editions of the novels and while we suppose it is a good thing to attempt to introduce Jane Austen’s work to a wider audience, we cannot help but think that anyone put off by reading “a 19th century author” (all that Olde English, you know!) deserves what they get.