PEOPLE packed out Market Place today (July 18) to see the unveiling of the first Jane Austen statue of its kind in the world.

The statue of the world-famous author from Steventon was unveiled in the sunshine to the crowd, who got the first look at the new addition to Market Place. Standing at around five feet tall outside the Willis Museum, the statue is of Jane Austen clutching a book as she moves through the square.

The sculptor and designer of the statue is Adam Roud, from Basingstoke, who crafted the statue to look as close to being real as possible.

Speaking to The Gazette, Mr Roud said: “I’m happy with it, and while in the eyes of the artist, it never seems to be fully perfect, I’m happy with how it came out. It was my intention to sculpt a believable woman, someone who looks like they actually belong in the courtyard.

“It is very difficult to get the right measure of what Jane Austen actually looked like, as there are so few surviving images. So I created the measure of what I think looks the best and most realistic.”

The event was attended by the sculptor, as well as the leader of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council Clive Sanders and deputy leader Terri Reid, in addition to Basingstoke MP Maria Miller. The biographer of Jane Austen, Claire Tomalin, spoke at the event, giving an insight into how Jane lived in the area.

Speaking at the event, Cllr Sanders said: “Basingstoke will now be known for more than roundabouts and skyscrapers, this has really put Basingstoke on the map, Ms Jane Austen has returned. While there are museums and other places in the world that have Jane Austen exhibits and other celebrations of the author, we have reclaimed her with the statue.

“She did her writing here, in this background, in Basingstoke and Steventon. She would meet her friends right here and Market Place, and attend balls nearby. She was a lively young woman and it is remarkable that we have a statue of one of our great authors in our area. Welcome back, and welcome home, Jane.”