FBI forensic artist Melissa Dring used diaries, letters and more to construct a waxwork of the beloved author

By Tara Fowler
Updated July 11, 2014 03:30 PM
Credit: Owen Benson/Jane Austen Centre

Will the real Jane Austen please stand up?

The Jane Austen Centre unveiled a waxwork likeness of the Pride and Prejudice author in Bath, England, on Wednesday, the closest “anyone has come to the real Jane Austen for 200 years,” a spokesperson for the Centre says.

Until now, the only accepted portrait of the writer was a sketch done by Austen’s sister Cassandra in 1810. This sketch was the starting point for the waxwork, which was constructed with the help of former FBI forensic artist Melissa Dring.

“[Cassandra’s portrait] does make it look like she’s been sucking lemons,” Dring told the BBC. “She has a somewhat sour and dour expression. But we know from all accounts of her, she was very lively, very great fun to be with and a mischievous and witty person.”

Dring used diaries, letters and other contemporary accounts of the author’s appearance to help flesh out Austen’s likeness. Royal sculptor Mark Richards then took Dring’s findings and built the 5-foot-6-inch waxwork from them. The artist is happy with the results, saying she believes the statue looks “pretty much like her.”

“She came from a large Austen family and they all seemed to share the long nose, the bright sparkly brown eyes and curly brown hair,” Dring said. “[The waxwork] is as close as anyone can possibly get to her.”

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