Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!


Jane Austen by Cassandra Chouinard

Jane Austen by Cassandra Chouinard

Steventon: December 17, 1775.

DEAR SISTER,–You have doubtless been for some time in expectation of hearing from Hampshire, and perhaps wondered a little we were in our old age grown such bad reckoners, but so it was, for Cassy certainly expected to have been brought to bed a month ago; however, last night the time came, and without a great deal of warning, everything was soon happily over. We have now another girl, a present plaything for her sister Cassy, and a future companion. She is to be Jenny, and seems to me as if she would be as like Harry as Cassy is to Neddy. Your sister, thank God, is pure well after it.

That is an excerpt from the letter the Rev. George Austen wrote to his sister-in-law on the occasion of Jane Austen’s birth. It is a day we all, as Jane Austen fans, have occasion to celebrate, and there is a lot of celebration going on around the Internets. Last year, we had some fun speculating what we might give Jane Austen for her birthday. We’re sure Jane took good care of those gloves, and doesn’t need a new pair, though we might tat her some pretty earrings. But this year we think we would give Jane a year free of speculation about her personal life. No more media campaigns about what caused her death, with whom she had romances, what she realllllllly looked like; just a year in which people read and enjoyed her books and did not set out to make a show with them. Just read the books; have fun with them, but celebrate the books, and their author, without all this unseemly speculation. We know this is just wishful thinking; there is too much at stake for some people in making a show with our Jane; but that is our wish for her on this day, and certainly in the coming year.

JASNA Wisconsin Region 2012 CalendarIn honor of Jane Austen’s birthday, we are giving away some goodies to our Gentle Readers. First, we have a copy of the JASNA Wisconsin Region’s lovely 2012 calendar, courtesy of the Region, to give away to one Janeite in the U.S. or Canada. The calendar contains incidents occurring in the novels and in Jane’s life for specific dates and is decorated with quotations from the novels and full-color images from the 1898 Brock-illustrated editions of the novels. If you are not fortunate enough to win the calendar, but would like to have a copy, you may purchase a calendar from the region.

In the spirit of our speculative birthday gift for Jane, another lucky reader will win a bookmark designed and tatted by the Editrix, inspired by the lace design that Jane drew in one of her letters.

Sense and Sensibility IllustratedWe also have four copies of the Jane Austen Bicentenary Library Edition of Sense and Sensibility, illustrated by Cassandra Chouinard (the artist who drew the portrait of Jane Austen that decorates this post; her first name being the same as Jane’s sister means it really looks like her–hey, that’s as good speculation as any we’ve seen of late) and with annotations and some “extras” by the Editrix. We have two copies each of the paperback (signed by the Editrix) and the ebook (DRM-free and available in all platforms, and we can also send a signed postcard if the recipient likes) to give away.

There Must Be Murder - A Novella Sequel to Northanger AbbeyAND we also are giving away four copies of There Must Be Murder, our own production and a celebration of our affection for Jane’s novel Northanger Abbey and her delightful hero and heroine. This book is also delightfully illustrated by Cassandra Chouinard (we are particularly fond of her drawings of children and dogs). We also have two copies each of the paperback (signed by the author) and the ebook (we don’t have any cards, but we’re sure we can find something to sign if the recipient likes) to give away.

To be entered in the giveaway, respond to this post, leaving a valid e-mail address (no one but the Editrix will see it, and if you win, we will need it to contact you to find out where to send your prize). Please wish Jane Austen a happy birthday, and let us know what you will do today and in the coming year to celebrate Jane Austen and her work. Also please indicate if you would prefer paperback or ebooks, or if you just want to say Happy Birthday to Jane and do not wish to be entered in the giveaway at all. ETA: Probably should mention that you can enter until midnight U.S. Eastern time on December 20.

For our own part, we are kicking things off with an audiobook relisten to Mansfield Park, which our book group is reading together; in the coming year, we plan to be reading and writing (and blogging!) more about Jane Austen; in the nearer future, we are going to be tatting that bookmark. 😉

Thanks to Liz Philosophos Cooper and JASNA’s Wisconsin Region for donating the calendar, and to Girlebooks for donating the ebooks for our giveaway.

49 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

  1. Maria L.

    Oh happy Day, dearest Jane.

    We are already in the celebratory birthday mode, as for the past several days Emilia Fox has been reading Pride and Prejudice as we sit by the fire and gaze at the Christmas tree. Tonight Elizabeth will be confronting Lady Catherine. We will be merry indeed.

    Thanks Mags for the celebration.

    And in the event this Gentle Reader wins: although she will on occasion indulge in an audio book, she does not care very much for e-books and has a fetish for all things paper (or tatted!).


  2. Sansanee

    Austen has made my life richer in so many ways, not least because of the good company I have found through her. Happy Birthday Jane!

    I’m celebrating already! I’ve started rereading Persuasion after seeing a local production of the story.

    I am still fond of print copies, should I be so lucky. Thanks for all the great work you do here! 🙂


  3. Sarah

    Happy Birthday, Jane! I will of course continue to reread all of her books 🙂 I prefer e-books, because my cat has a tendency to pull paperback books off the bookshelf and eat them (so far he hasn’t gotten any of my Jane Austen books, luckily).


  4. Happy Birthday to my goddess, my idol, my heroine: Our Dear Jane. I plan to post about Jane’s birthday on my Facebook, and perhaps I’ll indulge in some Pride & Prejudice this weekend. I worship Jane year-round.

    I would be happy to get any prize, but I much prefer “real” books to e-books.


  5. Kelley B

    Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!! Thank you for giving us Mr. Tilney, Captain Wentworth, Mr. Knightley and Colonel Brandon and essentially setting a standard most real men have yet to live up to 😉 Now that I will have oodles of free time to play with in 2012, I plan to read/reread everything Jane ever wrote, including her letters which I shamefully admit I have yet to read in their entirety.

    (I will let others thank Miss Austen for giving us Mr. Darcy)


  6. Arianne

    Happy Birthday Jane Austen! I think I might watch the 1995 film version of Persuasion tonight. Next year I will probably re-read at least one of her novels. I would prefer paperback.


  7. Awesome set of goodies, Maggie! I just love the calendar and definitely need to get one for my office for 2012.

    Not sure which Austen novel I will reread this year since the AGM is on a theme and not a novel…maybe I’ll go the MP route myself. While I love audio books, Lady Susan is the only Austen I’ve actually listened to. Good idea.


    • If you go the Librivox route, I enthusiastically recommend gloriana’s readings. She is a delightful reader.

      Our book group chose MP partly because we read Jane Austen and Crime last year and there were a lot of references back to MP and it made some of us curious to re-read; and also it seemed to fit in the AGM theme in many ways. Issues referencing “Money, Sex, and Power” certainly are to be found in that book.


  8. Jennifer Cook

    Happy Birthday Jane! You make me happy every single day.
    I am going to do the same as Julianne above and write a real handwritten letter at least once a month in 2012. And paperback is great!


  9. Ruth

    What a novel idea! Writing letters…I shall do it too- maybe
    once a month. I know how pleasant it is to receive a “real”
    letter from a friend. Alas I am not witty and interesting
    like Jane, but then, who is?!


  10. A very happy birthday to our dear Jane! I look forward to participating in a Jane Austen book club hosted by our local library. I look forward to re-reading her books again, especially NA and MP, which I have been wanting to read again.


  11. Jen M

    Happy birthday, Jane! I will celebrate today by rewatching Northanger Abbey, as I just bought it. This year, I plan to reread both Persuasion and Mansfield Park, which have lingered in the “to be read” pile for far too long.

    I would like to be entered for the calendar, which looks great!


  12. Rita Watts

    I like paper books, audio books and e-books in this order. I would be lucky to get any!!!
    Happy Birthday, Jane! We celebrate your birthday because you are the one that gave us our best gift ever – your work!


  13. Margaret

    Happy Birthday Jane! I would love to win the calendar! I have been reading Emma over the duration of December and have read only one or two chapters per day however in celebration of Jane I’m going to read as many as I can today.



  14. Happy, happy birthday, Jane Austen. After just rereading Sense and Sensibility (actually, listening to one of the librivox versions at work) in honor both of her birthday and the bicentennial, I am once again confirmed that this is the best and wisest human I shall ever know.

    I would love to be entered into drawings of any kind (do we need to specify?)


  15. Kim

    Happy Birthday Jane! I am such a fan that I named my son Austen, how ironic since I also have two daughters! I am currently reading Sanditon by another lady, and would love it if someone could point me to a good finish of the Watsons. I reread all her books at least once a year!


  16. Happy birthday Jane! One of the ways I have honored you this year and will continue to honor you in the coming year is to write you into the book I’m currently writing. It’s been a lot of fun speculating about what Jane would really be like.


  17. melora brock

    Happy birthday Miss Austen! I plan to reread Emma for I’ve been in the mood for her shenanigans lately. I love my ereader- so ebooks are great.


  18. Happy Birthday dearest Miss Austen! You and your work are such inspirations to me providing both wit and wisdom.

    My celebrations today included wearing my “Austen Addict” necklace, blogging about Jane Austen and quoting her randomly. I’ve been celebrating all week!

    What lovely birthday wishes Mags! And the giveaway items are amazing, I’d be delighted to win any of them! For myself I prefer paperbacks.

    Also, thanks for that link to the Libravox recording of Mansfield Park, it is charming! I love do hear the different voices representing each character. 🙂


  19. Happy Birthday Miss Austen! My celebrations include starting Pride and Prejudice again….gotta love it!

    Also, the giveaway looks amazing! I prefer paperbacks–thanks so much!


  20. Happy Birthday, Jane! Some friends and I celebrated by having a tea with goodies and lots of talking about Austen’s books. I’m looking forward to reading more of her books and having discussions with friends this coming year. So excited that you are doing giveaways-I prefer paperback books if I win. What a great day to celebrate a great writer!


  21. Sarah V.

    Happy birthday, dearest Jane! You have blessed me with hours of reading enjoyment over the years. Today I will celebrate you by reading a little of Pride and Prejudice and watching Emma this evening. Looking forward to reading several more of your books in the coming year. What a lovely giveaway. Crossing my fingers … I prefer paperbacks!


  22. Kelli H.

    Happy Birthday dear Jane! My life has never been the same since I picked up your beloved Emma! Thank you for the countless hours of pure reading enjoyment!!=)
    I would love the 2012 JASNA calendar! Thanks!!


  23. Mary Augusta Thomas

    Happy Birthday Miss Jane Austen. You have brought many a happy hour to me, As you did to my mother and perhaps to her mother before her.


  24. What a delightful gathering of lovely prizes! Jane herself would be pleased.
    We’ve just put up a wee bit of frolicsome fun over at Plush Possum Studio celebrating her day with Regency style ephemera of several kinds, all meant to be played with (literally).
    Hope you’ll stop over for a bit of a look round and an early nibble of Jane’s Christmas pudding!


  25. Christy Gregg

    Happy Birthday, Jane! In honor of Jane’s birthday my daughter-n-law and I celebrated by raising our teacups to Jane during our special “Jane Austen tea party”! What a special time we had discussing Jane and her books over a cups of tea! Thanks, Jane!


  26. Joanna Y.

    Happy Birthday, dear Jane! Thanks for sharing your genius with the world! We all are richer for it! I plan to celebrate Jane in this new year by re-reading several of her novels, which I haven’t re-read since college! Probably P&P and S&S to start with.


  27. Happy Birthday, Miss Austen! Your wit, observational skills, and hope have provided me with entertainment and helped me through some hardships. When I am feeling down, cuddling up in bed with one of your novels tends to prove a good cure. Thank you for that.

    I plan to celebrate Jane by re-reading some of her novels, and writing a book along the lines of her last, unfinished work “The Brothers.”


  28. Sandra Cabral

    Happy Birthday Jane
    you receive wonderful gifts, and lasting, its language is universal, and every little piece of romance, contains his heart, speaks of love, who loves, thank you for always happy endings, here’s their sensitivity and simplicity!


  29. Marybeth

    Many happy returns, Jane, and thanks for doing this, Mags. I celebrated by watching the Kate Beckinsale version of Emma. I was in the mood for some festive Christmas scenes, and the Emma adapations always oblige. I’m determined to reread S&S before the year is over. (Yes, I realize I have two weeks left.) [Paperback if possible please.]


  30. Eileen

    Jane will be belatedly celebrated at Christmas Tea – this year also belatedly celebrated so that all the usual suspects can attend. Any calendar, bookmark or print item this reader may be lucky enough to receive will certainly be included in our Christmas Tea party favors (unless I really really like it!).


  31. Stumbling upon Jane Austen’s literary world 5 years ago was quite simply one of the best things that ever happened to me. Nothing in all of literature has given me so much joy.


  32. Rosana R

    Happy belated birthday, Jane!! In celebration I will start my annual reading of Persuasion tonight. My resolution for the New Year will be to finally read Lady Susan and Jane’s letters. I would love a paperback!


  33. I haven’t been good about marking Jane’s birthday, but this year I planned ahead. We celebrated Jane Austen’s birthday with a tea party/backgammon tournament and fun was had by all the women who attended. I hope to make it an annual event. Thanks for this fun giveaway!


  34. DIH

    Happy Birthday Jane. My gift to you would be multiple editions of your novels. Although you probably will wonder at the commentary, you would be pleased to know that your books are more widely read than ever, and certainly more widely read than those ridiculous “gothics”* that you made fun of.
    Rather than speculating on your poor health, I would also send you some top rate physicians, nurses, pharmacists and medical equipment back in time so that they could diagnose and treat your condition properly.
    * Novels have become so abundant and cheap that they are grouped into categories so as to make it easier for booksellers and readers. “Gothic” is not a category for novels emulating the strict formalism of certain church architecture, but a book full of sensibility and dark mysterious strangers.


  35. LynnS

    Oh dear, it seems my birthday felicitations are late, but no less heartfelt. I am celebrating by finishing up my last reviews for the Sense and Sensibility challenge before the year is out.

    I prefer “real” books to e-books, but not It Must Be Murder which I have already purchased!


  36. I love your birthday present to Jane. Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could all have a year free of outside speculation? Oh sure, none of us are scrutinized as much as Jane, but I do get tired of answering impertinent questions.

    My gift to Jane (and suddenly I feel like one of the fairies in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty) is a continued appreciation for her work. It’s easy to become overly familiar with those books we love, and sometimes we forget why they’re so wonderful in the first place. This year, I pledge to keep my eyes open to her wonderful wit.


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