A MAQUETTE of the first ever statue of Jane Austen has been revealed, to help celebrate the 200th anniversary of her death.

Basingstoke sculptor Adam Roud, 45, has been commissioned to create the bronze sculpture, which will stand in The Top of The Town when it will be revealed as part of the celebration events in July this year.

The maquette – a sculptor’s small preliminary model or sketcha model from which the work is elaborated – was revealed at an event last week on Thursday, which was attended by Councillor Jane Frankum and Basingstoke MP Maria Miller.

Jane Austen was born in 1775 in Steventon, near to Basingstoke, where her father was the vicar of St Nicholas Church and it is where she wrote the first draft of her famous work Pride and Prejudice. The writer knew Basingstoke well, attending social gatherings at the Assembly Rooms in Market Square, near to where the Lloyds Bank is today.

The sculpture will be in the square itself, with it being designed to look like Austen is walking through the square, imagining what it might have looked like when she was alive.

Mr Roud said: “For me, this is a big deal. Jane Austen is such a well-known and loved author worldwide, and I’m getting to make the first statue of her.

“Considering this is my first work in the public, I’m nervous to see what people will think of it, but at the same time, it is an honour to be asked to do it.”

“It’s difficult to get the exact likeness of Jane Austen. There are very few actual depictions or descriptions of her, there is a portrait that was done of her by her sister Cassandra, which is what the image on the new ten pound note will take inspiration from.

“However, even the family thought that it wasn’t a particularly good likeness, which is what makes drawing up the sculpture so difficult. I’ve taken inspiration from every source that I’ve seen to try and get the best interpretation I can.”

The bank notes are due to be printed later this year.

The Hampshire Cultural Trust are raising money for the statue’s completion, and they need to raise £100,000 in total in order to finish the statue. They have currently raised £90,000 of the money necessary, thanks to the generosity of the public.

Amanda Aldous MBE, the project manager of the statue, said: “We’re really pleased with how the statue is progressing.

“We are very grateful for the generosity that people have shown us so far, given that we are nearly at our target, but we just need £10,000 more to complete the vision we have for it, people are very excited about this project as it is a Basingstoke project through and through.

“We’re putting a statue of a Basingstoke author in Basingstoke made by a Basingstoke artist.”

You can donate to the project here: http://easydonate.org/HCTF002