Interview with Tim Bullamore, Publisher of Jane Austenís Regency World
You are publisher of JARW, why did you start publishing this Jane Austen related magazine and for how long have you been doing this?
Friends of mine run the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, and it was they who started the magazine. However, about four years ago
they told me that they planned to close it. I am a journalist by profession - as well as a Bath resident and admirer of Jane Austenís
work Ė so I bought it and invested in its presentation and content.
How many subscribers does JARW have and where are they from?
At any one time there are about 1,200 subscribers. We also sell individual copies and back copies. Our subscribers are from all over
the world, including India, Brazil, Australia, the US and the UK Ė oh, and also the Netherlands!
From where do you get all the wonderful information and articles for each issue of JARW?
The information and the articles find me! People are in touch with ideas. Maggie Lane, our wonderful Consultant Editor, has great ideas.
There are always new books out, which help to generate new articles. Our difficulty sometimes is finding high-quality pictures. We also
struggle to receive enough letters to publish. Itís said that people only write when you upset them: clearly weíre not upsetting many readers!
Do you publish other magazines or books?
I donít yet, but if another suitable magazine was available I might be interested in buying it. However, I also spend a lot of time writing and
editing for British newspapers, including The Times and the Daily Telegraph, as well as giving lectures and talks.
Do you also give lectures and talks about Jane Austen? If you ever are in Holland it would be nice for our Jane Austen fans to hear you!
I do give lectures and talks. I am in the US in October speaking in Washington DC, Philadelphia and at the Jane Austen Society of North America
conference in New York. In 2013 I will visit and speak at the Jane Austen societies in Australia. I would be delighted to visit you at a convenient time.
Do you work together with the other Jane Austen institutions, like the J.A. Centre Bath, J.A. House Museum, J.A.Society UK?
We work informally with all these Ė and more. We have an especially close relationship with the Jane Austen Centre in Bath. Although the magazine
is a separate business from them, we call it Ďthe official magazine of the Jane Austen Centre, Bathí. We are in touch with Chawton House and Jane
Austenís House Museum regularly. We also attend the Jane Austen Society of North Americaís annual meeting in October each year.
Do you live in Bath yourself?
Yes, I am fortunate to live in a very early Georgian house in the heart of the city Ė the type of house that the Georgians built before they started
building the grand crescents. It was almost a hundred years old when Jane walked past.
What is it that appeals to you most in Jane Austenís work and do you have a favourite book?
I like the way that she allows the character of her subjects to develop. No, I have no favourite book!
Is there a character that you like best and why?
Iím not sure about one whom I like best, but I do think that Mr Wickham is misunderstood and gets a (sometimes) unfair press. Itís time for a bit
of revisionism I think (runs for cover as angry Janeites hurl missiles!)
How interesting, why? Please share with us your views on how Mr.Wickham is misunderstood and the unfair press he receives.
I think I might save this and one day develop a lecture on it!
Have you seen the many Jane Austen adaptations for film and television and which one do you like the most?
Iíve not seen many of them. But, being slightly commercial, Iíd have to say the BBCís 1995 Pride & Prejudice: without it there probably would
not be a Jane Austenís Regency World magazine.
What do you think about the enormous amount of Jane Austen para-literature, sequels and mash-ups, have you read any? If you did, which one or ones
get your approval?
They are wonderful, hilarious and great fun. And Iím sure many people get great pleasure from producing and reading them. But we have to be
careful not to take it all too seriously: none of us own Janeís soul or have the right to say what she would have said or done!
Jane Austen has become a great money-spinner, looking at all the Austen products that you can buy nowadays, whatís your opinion about that?
Jane Austenís Regency World magazine is, of course, one of the money-spinning Austen products, so naturally I think theyíre marvellous!
Can you explain the ever-growing worldwide interest in Jane Austen and the Regency World. What is the attraction, besides the masterpieces she wrote?
I believe it is two-fold: first, people find comfort in discovering that our own emotional dilemmas are not new and that others have suffered
them in the past; and, second, paradoxically, they do offer a form of wonderful escapism, into what seems to be a bygone world of bonnets
and long-lost chivalry.
What do you think makes Jane Austen so special?
Her charactersí relevance to todayís readers.
People do not only read Jane Austen, they want to take part in her world. Hence the popularity of the Jane Austen Festival and many other Regency events,
all over the world. Why do you think people want to go back to her time-period?
Itís great fun! There is also a common bond Ė or a shared experience Ė among those who have read her books.
Do you also dress up as a Regency Gentleman and participate in Jane Austen/Regency activities? Do you like, like Jane Austen did, the dances and music of her time?
I believe there are pictures on the internet of me in Regency costume, but itís not something I make a habit of! As a music writer I enjoy the music of
her time and, given a couple of glasses of wine, I can usually be persuaded to my feet at the Jane Austen Society of North Americaís annual ball.
What about the Jane Austen Festival in Bath? Do you attend the Promenade, Ball or any other of the various Jane Austen/Regency activities?
I have a stand for the magazine at the Georgian market in the Jane Austen Festival, and I have attended the Promenade. But I am also busy in Bath
and in London with my other journalism that I donít attend many activities. If only there were nine days in a week!
Jane Austen did not particularly write for women. A lot of men used to read Jane Austen, for example the Prince-Regent had in every palace copies of her work.
In later years Rudyard Kipling wrote in ďThe JaneitesĒ about 1st World War soldiers reading her work in the trenches. Nowadays Jane Austen seems to attract
more female readers and fans than male. Why do you think this is?
I think itís to do with modern things such as marketing, image and gender stereotypes in the media. I donít think it will last for ever. Maybe in 30
years time you will see Jane Austen Ďpackagedí for men. As an analogy, for many years Coca-Cola made Diet Coke. But they discovered that it
was mainly bought by/for women. Men wanted it, but felt it didnít suit the masculine image. So Coca-Cola rebranded Diet Coke as Coca-Cola Zero,
and opened up a new market. I think one day someone will Ďrebrandí Janeís works (I donít mean rewrite, I mean repackage).
Is your family also into ĎAll things Austení? And if not, how do they see your work for promoting Jane Austen and the Regency period?
My daughter is 11 and is the magazineís sternest critic (after me!). She is interested in knowing about Jane Austen, but hasnít yet turned her attention
to the novels. Iím not pushing her: she will find them in her own time.
Do you think a discovery of unknown works, manuscripts or a diary is still possible? Maybe letters, discovered by the descendants of friends Jane Austen corresponded
with. An unknown portrait that in time may prove to be of Jane? What possibility excites you?
Itís possible: some music by Mozart was discovered this year. I think a diary, letter or manuscript will be easier to authenticate than a picture: the Ďpossibleí
ones that we know of seem to cause quite bitter divisions among Janeites. If one is found, I hope that you will read about it first in Jane Austenís Regency
When you look at the years to come, do you think Jane Austenís popularity will stay and even grow? What would you like to see happening that has not happened yet?
I hope it will continue to grow. I think it will. At the moment we are going through the 200th anniversary of the first publication of her books. Itís only
13 years until the 250th anniversary of her birth. There is still lots to celebrate!
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