Jane Austen Day
Picture, if you will, a walnut tripod table by a window in a country house. It’s tiny, with twelve sides and a moulded edge. Imagine a small figure writing at this table in secret, on small scraps of paper, alive to the sounds of footsteps carrying visitors into the room. Notice as this person swiftly hides those scraps away from prying eyes. The image you now have in your mind is that of Jane Austen, perhaps the best-loved author in the English-speaking world. Imagine a world without those scraps and their transformation into the six sparkling novels that she completed. How impoverished that world would be.
Jane Austen: A life
Jane wrote in secret because she was a young, unmarried woman in the late 18th century, and it was considered unseemly for ladies to indulge in anything as vulgar as writing fiction.
Luckily for us, she privately pursued her literary passions throughout her tragically short life, and the novels she bequeathed us – all published within a six-year time frame – have been in print ever since. The many television and cinematic adaptations of her work attest to the fact that literary audiences today are as hungry for her work as they were 200 years ago.
Jane Austen lived a quiet, unspectacular and financially constrained life in southern England. She rarely travelled and never married, and yet her keen and witty observations of societal norms and her brilliant insights into human relationships sing out from every page of her works. Her novels were instantly popular, but she was only identified as their author a few months after she died.
Today we celebrate Jane’s birthday, and she lives on through her characters who are as fresh and modern today as they were when she wrote them into existence: Elizabeth Bennett, the Dashwoods, Fanny Price, Emma Woodhouse, Catherine Morland, and Anne Elliot. Oh, and the dashing Mr Darcy (be still, my beating heart!)
Resources for Jane Austen Day
You’ll find all her novels and TV adaptations on LibrarySearch. Why not binge-read them over the holidays.
In order of publication:
Sense and Sensibility (1811)
Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Mansfield Park (1814)
Northanger Abbey (1817)
For more information:
By Lesley McRobb