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Thursday Next
What did she do?
Last updated: June 12th 1988
A Blank page of Jane Eyre
The Hodder paperback edition of Jane Eyre,
in a rare photograph, showing the total disruption and
annihilation of the prose. All pages from 180 onwards were blank.
On August 19th 1985 Jane Eyre was kidnapped from the pages of Charlotte Brontë's masterpiece of Victorian fiction, only to return three weeks later, apparently unharmed. The story behind these strange events became known as 'The Eyre Affair' and featured a woman named Thursday Next of SpecOps-27 (the literary Detective division of the Special Operations Network based in Swindon). Since the book was returned (relatively) undamaged, there is no tangible evidence that this happened at all except for a few chance photographs taken by bookseller James Mandrake. In his own words, this was what happened that night: "...I remember it well. I had just sat down with Ovaltine and Toast - which, as we all know is tasty and nutritious - when I noticed the words simply 'fall off the page'. In place of the usual narrative there was simply a few strange words about an 'intruder' and then nothing at all - blank pages for the remainder of the book..."
A not so blank page of Jane Eyre
James Mandrake's photograph of page 180 of Jane Eyre,
showing where the narrative comes to an abrupt halt.
The Book goes awry half way down page 180 on James Mandrake's copy. Where Rochester used to say: "In the name of all the elves in Christendom, is that Jane Eyre?" , the writing, as far as we can ascertain from the photo reads: "In the name of all the elves in-" Rochester stopped speaking and stared beyond me toward the door. We were not alone; an interloper, a stranger, an agent in black had joined us.
"Who are you?" We asked in unison.
"Believe me," replied the intruder, "you couldn't possibly begin to understand!"
And there the book stops. Mandrake himself scribbled a note: "This happened on the 19th August 1985. I can't explain it but record it nonetheless. (signed) James Mandrake" It's as well that he did. Without it there would be no evidence that it was ever disrupted at all - except in our memories. Three weeks later the narrative to Jane Eyre returned, slowly at first and then writing itself more quickly across the page, overwriting Mandrake's scribbled note to himself and finishing rapidly with the new - and some would say improved- ending. Even though Thornfield is burnt to the ground and Rochester maimed, it's a great deal better than the original which -to those who can remember it - has Jane going to India as assistant to the pious yet dweeby St John Rivers.
A full page of Jane Eyre
James Mandrake's photograph of the rewritten Jane Eyre.
Note his writing overwritten by the incoming text.
In the rewritten version above all references to the intruder are deleted and the text runs as it should: "In the name of all the elves in Christendom, is that Jane Eyre?" he demanded.
"What have you done with me, witch, sorceress?
Who is in the room besides you? Have you plotted to drown me?"
"I will fetch you a candle, sir; and, in Heaven's name, get up.
Somebody has plotted something: you cannot too soon find out who and what it is."
"There! I am up now; but at your peril you fetch a candle yet:
wait two minutes till I get into some dry garments, if any dry there be -- yes, here is my dressing-gown. Now run!"
My thanks to Mr Mandrake for allowing himself to be quoted.

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