Monday, 16 December 2013


What would my life have been like without Jane Austen?

Hard to imagine, really, but here goes with a list of what would been missing in my life if Jane Austen had not written her 6 novels:

I wouldn’t have…

1. … befriended an amazing group of women from our first weekend sharing Jane Austen 20 years ago… we continue to have at least once a year “Wild Women Weekends” to discuss our latest reads and to just connect – and it all started with Jane Austen…

2. … had the repeat enjoyment of reading her novels over and over, always discovering something new;

3. … encountered the likes of Mr. Collins, Mrs. Elton, Mary Crawford, Mrs. Bennet, the Wicked Villians, and the Dashing Heroes [well, except for Edmund…];

4. … appreciated the English language in quite the same way… the Wit, the Irony, that Free Indirect Discourse! – Who else does it quite like this! [well, after giving Shakespeare his just due…];

5. … read North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, and therefore would not have discovered Richard Armitage as John Thornton;

6. … had to contend with the various screen Mr. Darcy’s and the endless conversations as to who is the best;

7. … learned about the fascinating history of the time – social life and customs, British history, military history and the Royal Navy, architectural, artistic, fashion history, etc. – the list is endless, and the learning never stops…;

8. … had endless discussions on the value and virtues of Fanny Price with my very Anti-Fanny friend Sara;

9. …read The Letter [i.e Capt., Wentworth’s “pierced soul”] – can one exist without memorizing that Letter?

1o. … had the pleasure of re-watching and critiquing the many movies!

11.…,as a teenager, figured out the kind of Hero I wanted in my own life – if Jane Austen hadn’t written P&P, I would still be hankering after a Mr. Rochester or a Heathcliff – great reads but not nearly as healthy…;

12. … met so many fabulous and inspiring people in the JASNA community [as well as all the other worldwide Jane Austen Societies];

13. … started a blog and met such amazing people in the Jane Austen online community…and may have therefore had an inordinate amount of time to do something else!

14. … collected books: the various editions of the Jane Austen novels, books about Jane Austen, books inspired by Jane Austen, books about Great Britain, books about the Regency Period and its social life and customs – whatever would I fill my bookshelves with if Jane Austen wasn’t such a part of my life?!

Happy Birthday Jane Austen! – little could you know of your legacy of enriching so many lives!


Deb  at 10 Henrietta St, London – home of Henry Austen and where Jane Austen stayed

Deborah Barnum is a former law librarian, now owner of Bygone Books, a closed shop of fine and collectible books in Burlington, Vermont. She is currently the regional coordinator for the JASNA Vermont Region, author of the “Jane Austen in Vermont” blog, and compiler of the annual “Jane Austen Bibliography” for the JASNA journal PersuasionsOn-line. She loves to travel, especially to London, where she can immerse herself in the early 19th century…

Visit Deb's awesome site, Jane Austen in Vermont

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shelly said...

My daughter's b day is the same as Jane's so we'll be celebrating with cake, ice cream, and maybe after she goes to bed I'll have a Jane Austen movie marathon!

Ceri said...

I just wanted to agree with these points, particularly Captain Wentworth's letter. My favourite Austen book is Pride and Prejudice but my favourite snippet of her writing is that letter from Persuasion, it's just utter perfection.

I also would never have discovered Mrs Gaskell without having read Jane Austen, and to miss out on the wonderful story of North and South would have been such a shame. Plus Richard Armitage in period costume, what a feast for the eyes!

Re. the Brontes, I've read quite a few of them, and I am not much struck by their heroes. Anne Bronte's are probably the best to live with, can you imagine being married to highly strung Heathcliff? Interesting to read about, but not to daydream about :)

Lúthien84 said...

Some of the things in your list are what I will miss if I did not know about Jane Austen. I loved going through them and pointing out that it fits me.