Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Jane Austen statue unveiled in Basingstoke

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Media captionThe sculpture is thought to be the first life-sized statue of Jane Austen

A statue of Jane Austen has been unveiled on the 200th anniversary of her death.

The £100,000 life-sized bronze sculpture of the author is in Basingstoke's Market Place.

Commissioned by the Hampshire Cultural Trust, it was unveiled at a ceremony attended by civic figures as well as Austen fans in Regency costume.

Jane Austen spent the first 25 years of her life in nearby Steventon where her father was vicar.

Sculptor Adam Roud said it represented Austen as a "daughter and a sister" as she walked through the town.

"We have all the hoo-ha about Jane Austen the author - and rightly so - but she's a real person and that made me a bit more connected to the idea of her just walking here," he said.

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Media captionThe bronze statue was created in Adam Roud's studio

The Austen family lived in Steventon until they moved to Bath in 1801.

Austen knew Basingstoke well and attended social gatherings at the Assembly Rooms in Market Square and regularly visited family friends at The Vyne, Oakley Hall and Ashe House.

Her experiences are thought to have provided her with material for her novels.

She wrote drafts for Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice while in Steventon.

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Image caption The accuracy and level of likeness of images has been a source of debate among Jane Austen academics

What Austen actually looked like has been a source of debate among academics.

The only confirmed portrait of the author made during her lifetime is by her sister Cassandra.

A waxwork, created using eyewitness accounts and the help of Emmy award-winning costume designer Andrea Galer and an FBI-trained forensic artist, was unveiled at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath in 2014.

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