Jane Austen's Birthday: How did you celebrate?
On the 16th of December, many Jane Austen fans all around the world celebrated the birthday of the famous author. Born in 1775, 2015 marks the 240th anniversary of Austen’s birth in Steventon, Hampshire. Here, News Writer Laura Cox looks at some of the celebrations which took place on the big day.
Bath is famous for its links with Austen, as the author lived in the city from 1801- 1806. The Jane Austen Centre, situated in Gay Street, celebrated the day by bringing Regency-costumed guides into the city centre and asking shoppers about their experiences with Austen’s texts. The director of the Jane Austen Centre, David Baldock, said: "There's a Shakespeare Day and Dickens Day and we want Bath to be the face of Jane Austen Day celebrations.” Shoppers discussed their favourite of Austen’s texts and wished a ‘Happy Birthday’ to Jane Austen in many different languages. The celebrations were filmed, and can be viewed here.
Chawton House Library
Chawton House Library in Chawton, Alton, belonged to Jane Austen’s brother Edward Knight. The Elizabeth house is located only a few minutes away from Jane Austen’s Chawton cottage, where she lived from 1809 – 1817. Chawton House volunteers celebrated the day with mulled wine and mince pies in the Great Hall of the House. They also visited the nearby Jane Austen House Museum to hear Christmas readings.
The Independent celebrated Jane’s birthday by bringing together some of her best loved quotes and advice from her novels. The article showed than although Jane’s novels have been with us for hundreds of years, the messages they carry are as significant and relevant as ever. Our favourites to make the list include: “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel must be intolerably stupid.” from Northanger Abbey and “It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do” from Sense and Sensibility.
Oxford University Press
OUP celebrated the day with Ingrid Tieken-Boon van Ostade’s article on Regency birthday letters. We have evidence of Jane Austen writing affectionate letters to her friends and family on their birthdays. On her sister Cassandra’s 26th birthday in 1799, Jane writes: “I wish you Joy of your Birthday twenty times over” (Letter 17, 8−9 January 1799). Unfortunately we do not have evidence of birthday letters written to Jane by others, as only five letters that were addressed to her survive. However, “we do know what she did on her last birthday, on 16 December 1816. She was at home in Chawton, and she spent at least part of the day writing a letter to her nephew James Edward (Letter 146).” See the OUP article in full here. Did you celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday this year? Let us know!
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