In the news this week: Jane Austen and Sir Quentin Blake.

Two rather lovely things have happened in as many days in the worlds of literature and illustration.

First, in the world of literature via Her Majesty’s postal service, Royal Mail have marked the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice by releasing a set of six Jane Austen commemorative stamps, all depicting scenes from her six well-loved novels.

Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and Mansfield Park all have their own variously-priced postage stamps with beautiful artwork from illustrator Angela Barrett.

Steventon and Chawton in Hampshire, where Jane Austen was born and spent her last years respectively, will receive special postage marks on any letters posted from their addresses for a week, too. The postmark will feature the quote from Pride and Prejudice; “Do anything rather than marry without affection”.

I love this great Britishness about us where we endeavour to keep the legacies of our national treasures alive on postage stamps. I will be buying a set myself to go alongside my Roald Dahl ones, and next month I hope to get the two Doctor Who sets as well. A stamp collector I am not, but a geek and appreciator of culture and literature I am.

To purchase the Jane Austen stamps direct from Royal Mail, click here, and to see enlarged versions of them via the Guardian, click here

To receive news on the release of the Doctor Who stamps, click here


The other great piece of news – though I must ashamedly admit I thought he already had – beloved children’s books illustrator Quentin Blake received his knighthood from the Prince of Wales yesterday in a ceremony at Buckingham Palace, in honour of his services to illustration.

Quentin Blake is one of our greatest artists, bringing to life through this drawings (amongst others and his own) the stories of David Walliams, Dr Seuss, Joan Aiken, Russell Hoban and probably what he is most famous for, Roald Dahl.

After I got over the shock of realising that he hadn’t actually been knighted already, I looked down at my left arm, where I am currently sporting a homage to Quentin Blake’s drawings and Roald Dahl and Russell Hoban’s characters by getting my favourite ones tattooed on me. So far I have collected Matilda, the Marzipan Pig and Esio Trot, who I had done just a fortnight ago. Soon to come will be Fantastic Mr Fox and the Grand High Witch from The Witches. And I know it won’t stop there. The Twits must be added too at some point.

A wonderful illustrator and truly a national treasure, congratulations to Sir Quentin Blake and his (what I already thought he had) knighthood.

News stories on Sir Quentin Blake’s knighthood can be found here on the Guardian, and here on the Telegraph.

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