It is a truth universally acknowledged that an English graduate with absolutely no fortune must be in want of a job.
Three weeks later…
And I landed myself with the most perfect role; dressing up in long, elegant dresses, talking about one of the most famous female authors of all time and not to mention the opportunity to see Mr. Darcy as much I want…. in the form of a mannequin. During July of this year I excitingly began working as a Tour Guide at the Jane Austen Centre, Bath and this was just the start of my Austen mania.
Three weeks previously…
I nervously stumbled up the stairs towards the Function Room of the Warminster Athenaeum Theatre, on a quiet Thursday summer evening. The room was filled with many “Janes”, “Lydias”, “Mr Bennets” and unfortunately even the odd “Mr Collins”, all anxiously awaiting their audition. However, Adela and Heather, the directors of the play, made us all feel completely at ease and it was probably one of the most laid back, enjoyable auditions I’ve ever attended.
Aaand three weeks later…
I received a phone call from Heather offering me the part of Miss Elizabeth Bennet – shocked and amazed that I wasn’t going to be playing another tree in chorus 3 again, I took it.
Conversing about Jane Austen, learning about her time in Bath, dressing up in regency costumes AND playing the part of perhaps her most famous protagonist, I really am living the English Grad’s dream and I feel incredibly lucky and excited about this very special opportunity.
It’s not too late to join the party. The yearly Austen in August event, hosted by The Book Rat, is in full swing, and you are invited. If you’re a Janeite, this is the place to be.
There are giveaways,read-alongs, Austenesque book discoveries, and more–including roundtable discussions on the best cringeworthy moments in Austen and imagining what the best Austen TV mashups might be. In other words, it’s not only a chance to celebrate the works of the timeless author, it’s also a chance to fall over laughing. Which we take every opportunity to do.
As well as the bicentenary of Jane’s death, 2017 marks another anniversary on the Austen calendar, albeit of a more modest nature. Because it was ten years ago that the Jane Austen Gift Shop first began sending products to Jane’s fans the world over.
In those days it was a much more humble affair. (more…)
On the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, what better way is there to honor this extraordinary author than to give thanks for what she has left us? For me, her work is a timeless guide to living life in the no-BS zone, wrapped in an infinitely re-readable set of six novels.
If I could assign a motto, a credo to the the Austen canon, I would say it could be summed up in this one line from Pride and Prejudice: “Disguise of every sort is my abhorrence.” The fact that Mr. Darcy delivers this line while in the midst of a serious marriage-proposal fail makes it even more resonant: Darcy may be honest, but the brutality of his honesty indicates that he’s hiding behind his angry pride. He’s yet to unmask that part of his own disguise, but being an Austen hero, we know that he will.
That’s the genius of Austen, who calls out her characters on their disguises and their dishonesty. Which leads them to their moment of revelation, their grand character arc, and their ultimate reward–love and happiness.
Along the way, Austen makes us laugh, which makes the hard truths easier to bear. And thus we can begin to see ourselves in it all.
That’s Austen: keeping us real and calling us out. She’s been doing it for 200 years. And that’s no small feat for someone who lived in a society in which polite demurrals, refusals, and denials were a socially mandated matter of form.
Here are 10 gems of Austen wisdom to help you reach your own character arc.
1. A real friend is the one with the guts to tell you the ugly truth.
In Emma, Mr. Knightley was the only person with the courage to tell Emma that her treatment of Mrs. Bates was cruel. Emma was shocked and chastened. And set about making amends. Which also put her on the road to realizing that Knightley’s bossiness was maybe just a little bit attractive; no scratch that, super hot. (more…)
“A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word [accomplished]; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.” Pride and Prejudice
The following is an excerpt from The Mirror of the Graces, by a Lady of Distinction, 1811, reprinted here with kind permission from The Jane Austen Centre.
Title page of The Mirror of the Graces; British Library
When so much has been said of the body and its accoutrements, I cannot but subjoin a few words on the intelligence which animates the frame, and of the organ which imparts its meaning.
Connected speech is granted to mankind alone. Parrots may prate and monkeys chatter, but it is only to the reasonable being that power of combining ideas, expressing their import, and uttering, in audible sounds, all its various gradations, the language of sense and judgment, of love and resentment is awarded as a gift, that gives us a proud and undeniable superiority above all the rest of the creation.
To employ this faculty well and gracefully, is one grand object of education. The mere organ itself, as to sound, is like a musical instrument, to be modulated with elegance, or struck with the disorderly nerve of coarsene vulgarity. (more…)
Welcome to the Persuasion Happiness Program. Persuasion, like all of Jane Austen’s novels, is more than a book: it’s a roadmap to happiness. Here are lots of ways to lift yourself up with Persuasion!
1.Read Persuasion, and discover that there is always a second chance at happiness. Heroine Anne Elliot goes from lonely resignation to triumphant empowerment. It’s impossible to turn the last page without feeling a little spark inside that says, “that could be me.” Yes, it could, and it will!
2.Read Persuasion, and renew (or form) your faith in men. If you’ve ever wished and hoped that men could be as loyal and as romantic as women, Persuasion will grant your wish. Persuasion has what is perhaps the most romantic declaration of love in all of English literature. But don’t just wish and hope: Believe. Which leads us to:
3. Read Persuasion, and learn that faith in the good is rewarded. Always. As the heroine, Anne Elliot, says to a male friend, “I should deserve utter contempt if I dared to suppose that true attachment and constancy were known only by woman.”
4. Read Persuasion, and develop discernment. Anne Elliot was persuaded at the tender age of 19 to give up her engagement to the man she truly loved; she spent the next eight years regretting it. Not only did she learn to trust her intuition about love, she also learned to rely on her own inner voice at other critical moments. Observe her closely, and follow her example.
There’s a big Janeite party brewing in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s super affordable and sounds like a blast! So don your Regency regalia (or your yoga pants; Austen fans come in all shapes, sizes, and outfits) and make haste to the Jane Austen Festival.