Deborah Yaffe


By Deborah Yaffe, May 28 2018 01:00PM

Last month, as blog readers will recall, a non-profit executive and Janeite with the extraordinarily appropriate name of Janet Austin was appointed lieutenant governor of the Canadian province of British Columbia.

This month, she confirmed her Janeite credentials in a twenty-question Proust questionnaire with the Toronto Globe and Mail.

For question #3, “Which living person do you most admire?” Austin named her friend Anne Giardini, chancellor of British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University. As we learned last month, at the lunch bidding Austin farewell from her old job, Giardini “gave a talk called ‘Jane Austen talks about Janet Austin’ just using Jane Austen quotes.” According to Austin, the two women “sometimes talk to each other in Jane Austen quotes,” as well.

No surprise, then, that when she reached question #20, “If you could be a fictional character for one day, who would you like to be?” Austin replied, “Well, it’s got to be Jane Austen, so I would have to say Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.”

Personally, I’d think that depends on which day we’re talking about: Although I would rather not be Elizabeth Bennet on, say, the day of Mr. Collins’ proposal, I wouldn’t say no to the honeymoon at Pemberley. Still, we can all applaud the sentiment.

By Deborah Yaffe, Apr 30 2018 01:00PM

It’s not every day that the first question a newspaper asks of a newly appointed government official is “Are your parents big Jane Austen fans?”

But that’s what a Vancouver Sun reporter asked the non-profit CEO who became lieutenant governor of the Canadian province of British Columbia last week. Since the new appointee’s name is Janet Austin, she’s probably heard this question before.

In any case, the answer is yes: Indeed, the family are such fans that when Janet’s sister Joan* got married, they presented her new husband with a membership in the Jane Austen Society. At Janet’s farewell lunch, a friend “gave a talk called ‘Jane Austen talks about Janet Austin’ just using Jane Austen quotes,” Austin said. “We sometimes talk to each other in Jane Austen quotes.”

No doubt a deep familiarity with Austen’s novels will come in handy in the work of government, where Austin is sure to encounter any number of Lady Catherines, Mr. Collinses, General Tilneys and Mrs. Norrises. Here’s hoping she also meets a few Elinor Dashwoods as well.

* Joan Austin and Janet Austin? The parents couldn't just break down and name one of them Jane?

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