Deborah Yaffe


By Deborah Yaffe, Sep 25 2014 08:17PM

It hasn’t quite been Ten Days that Rocked the Jane Austen World, but this past week or so has brought us several memorable Janeite teapot storms:

–On September 13, the Jane Austen Festival of Bath, England, assembled enough fans in Regency costume to break the record set just last summer by the Jane Austen Festival of Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville snatched the title from Bath in the first place, so it’s pretty clearly Game On for next year. Once again, national honor is at stake.

–On September 14, en route to her crowning as Miss America 2015, Kira Kazantsev let the world know that she’s a Janeite. Unfortunately, this great news – Jane Austen, tiaras and swimsuits! Perfect together! – was drowned out by the derision heaped upon the typo in the on-screen tagline announcing that Kazantsev “loves anything Jane Austin.” Whoever was responsible had probably used up all his/her mental bandwith making sure “Kira Kazantsev” was spelled right.

–And today the long-delayed, eagerly-anticipated-though-not-by-me movie version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is due to start filming at last. The big news du jour is that two stars of the hit HBO series "Game of Thrones" – Charles Dance, who plays the ruthless and cruel Tywin Lannister, and Lena Headey, who plays his equally ruthless and cruel daughter, Cersei – have been cast in as-yet-unannounced roles. (I’m guessing Mr. Bennet and Lady Catherine – no reason Lady C has to be a wrinkled old crone, given that her daughter is at most thirty.)

I’m hoping this doesn’t mean we’re in for scenes in which the complexities of the entail are explained while a couple of naked women mud-wrestle in the background.

By Deborah Yaffe, May 22 2014 01:00PM

We Janeites like to think of ourselves as a community whose shared enthusiasm transcends the artificiality of mere lines on a map, uniting us in reverence for our beloved author, whose works belong not to a single country but to all of humankind.

Well, forget all that. National honor is at stake.

This summer, the seven-year-old Jane Austen Festival of Louisville, Kentucky, will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people in Regency costume – a record set five years ago by the Jane Austen Festival of Bath. In England. Need I remind my fellow American Janeites that we fought a war with these people – in Jane Austen’s lifetime, no less?

Bath, whose ten-day festival is sponsored by the city’s Jane Austen Centre, managed to assemble 409 people in corsets, bonnets, breeches and waistcoats to capture the title in 2009.

But Louisville, which holds a three-day festival under the auspices of the local branch of the Jane Austen Society of North America, will try to take the title on July 19. Even if the attempt succeeds, Bath will have a chance to snatch the record back when its fourteenth annual festival convenes two months later.

No word on who, if anyone, held the title before Bath. Perhaps the previous record was set during the Regency.

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