Once again the calendar rolls to December 16, also known as Jane Austen Day. We celebrate every year with our fellow Janeites, remembering the author who has given us so much joy.
Once again the calendar approaches its end, and with the last month comes Jane Austen’s birthday. The birth of this girl-baby brought some light into her family’s life in the darkest part of the year, and this woman and her work continue to bring light into the lives of her fans around the world, 243 years later. (She doesn’t look a day over 41, though.)
Lift your beverage of choice (we’re currently enjoying some vanilla chai ourselves) and join us in a toast to the baby Jenny, her family’s ray of December light; to the girl, Jane, who danced at balls and flirted with young men and gossiped with her sister and girlfriends and read books and wrote hilarious stories; and the woman, Jane Austen, author of books that have stood the test of two centuries and are still being copied and reinterpreted and celebrated today. Yes, let us celebrate Jane Austen, and her beloved books and characters, and the community that has grown around them, that has existed around them from even before their publication, when friends and family begged to read yet again the handwritten manuscript of First Impressions. Janeites, let us celebrate Jane Austen.
Let us know how you are celebrating Jane Austen today and every day!
The year rolls round to its end once again, and once again we are celebrating the birthday of Jane Austen. It is our tradition to write about what we would give Jane Austen for her birthday, but we don’t think we could top two pretty amazing things given to her by the world.
It’s Jane Austen’s 241st birthday today.
Please be upstanding and lift your beverage of choice in a toast to an authoress whose work has endured for two centuries after her death. That is an accomplishment indeed.
It is our custom for birthday posts to imagine a gift that we would like to give Jane for her birthday. It’s cold tonight at AustenBlog World Headquarters (though rather warmer in Winchester) so maybe we’ll crochet her some fuzzy slippers to keep off the chill. Our other gift is more ephemeral, and we hope it will work out. We’re going to promise to write more. More for AustenBlog, more for our personal blog, and more in general. It is rather a selfish gift, as we are doing it for ourself as well as for Jane, but somehow we don’t think she’ll mind. We have a couple of projects in the fire and hope to share them in the New Year with our Gentle Readers.
And speaking of stuff we’ve written, see the post below this one for a giveaway in honor of Herself’s natal day!
“You know how interesting the purchase of a sponge-cake is to me.” – Letter to Cassandra Austen, June 15, 1808
Once again, we take pen in hand–er, place fingers to keyboard to wish Jane Austen a very happy 240th birthday. She doesn’t look a day over 35, does she? We’ve got a cake, and no doubt Dorothy will bring around a beverage to everyone’s taste, whether tea or lemonade or maybe a nice mulled wine (heavy on the cinnamon, light on the cloves). It’s a day for Jane Austen fans to celebrate: the birth of our favorite author.
It’s our habit on this day to think of birthday gifts we would give Jane were she here. As the temperatures both at AustenBlog World Headquarters and, we are told, in the UK right now are on the temperate side (seriously, we were out in short sleeves and no coat this past weekend), we don’t think Jane needs anything warm, but we’d love to crochet a light, ethereal shawl using laceweight yarn, perhaps LilyGo’s “Remember Me” shawl; something light, just enough to keep off the evening chill. Needlework as a hobby is something we share with Jane Austen, and, oh yeah, that writing thing as well–though of course we can only aspire to her genius.
Please take up your beverage of choice and join us in a toast to the immortal Jane Austen.
(Also, scroll down for three, count ’em, three giveaway posts in honor of the day!)
“By-the-bye, as I must leave off being young, I find many douceurs in being a sort of chaperon, for I am put on the sofa near the fire, and can drink as much wine as I like.” – Letter from Jane Austen to Cassandra, November 6, 1813
Dearest Jane, may you be enjoying a warm fire, good wine, and the collective love of your readers worldwide on this day.
There’s lots of cool stuff going on all over the Internets today to celebrate Herself’s birthday. We’ve been retweeting like crazy!
The Jane Austen Centre in Bath has declared December 16 Jane Austen Day. (Every day around AustenBlog World Headquarters is Jane Austen Day, but it’s nice to make it official.) They are also offering a discount today in the gift shop.
The Jane Austen Society of North America has published the latest edition of Persuasions On-line, as it does every December 16.
In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Mansfield Park, Sarah Emsley has been hosting a year-long series of posts about the novel written by Janeite scholars, authors, bloggers, and fans on her blog, and this week she’s putting up a new post each day.
Austen in Boston has collected Herself’s birthday greetings and fun from around Facebook.
Quirk Books is hosting a big giveaway in honor of Jane Austen’s Day–win a copy Jane Austen Cover to Cover, The Jane Austen Handbook, and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters! C’mon, you can’t beat that combination.
There’s still time to get in on the giveaway of two copies of JAC2C on Robin Kall’s site (and check out the podcast interview with the Editrix!)
And we think we overhear Thorin and Jane having a little convo… 😉 Happy Jane Austen Day, Gentle Readers!
I’m a little late in the day with my remembrances, but they are nonetheless heartfelt.
For these birthday posts, I usually post a quotation that has directly to do with Jane herself. This year, I had a hard time thinking of something that felt satisfactory. I’ve long felt (and perhaps this is projection) that Jane, as an author, would consider her work her best remembrance. Thus, I’m sharing the passage that turned me from a casual Jane Austen reader to a lifelong fan. It’s not hyperbole to say that it changed my life. From Persuasion, Vol. II, Ch. XI:
Mrs. Croft left them, and Captain Wentworth, having sealed his letter with great rapidity, was indeed ready, and had even a hurried, agitated air, which shewed impatience to be gone. Anne know not how to understand it. She had the kindest “Good morning, God bless you!” from Captain Harville, but from him not a word, nor a look! He had passed out of the room without a look!
She had only time, however, to move closer to the table where he had been writing, when footsteps were heard returning; the door opened, it was himself. He begged their pardon, but he had forgotten his gloves, and instantly crossing the room to the writing table, he drew out a letter from under the scattered paper, placed it before Anne with eyes of glowing entreaty fixed on her for a time, and hastily collecting his gloves, was again out of the room, almost before Mrs. Musgrove was aware of his being in it: the work of an instant!
The revolution which one instant had made in Anne, was almost beyond expression. The letter, with a direction hardly legible, to “Miss A. E.–,” was evidently the one which he had been folding so hastily. While supposed to be writing only to Captain Benwick, he had been also addressing her! On the contents of that letter depended all which this world could do for her. Anything was possible, anything might be defied rather than suspense. Mrs. Musgrove had little arrangements of her own at her own table; to their protection she must trust, and sinking into the chair which he had occupied, succeeding to the very spot where he had leaned and written, her eyes devoured the following words:
“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in
“I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.”
Such a letter was not to be soon recovered from.
It’s been some twenty years since I read it, and I haven’t recovered from it yet. Thanks, Jane. I hope all the love from Janeites all over the world today reached you beyond the ether.