Deborah Yaffe


By Deborah Yaffe, Jan 2 2017 02:00PM

Happy new year, Janeites! For us fans of Jane Austen, 2017 is a big year, the biggest since – well, since 2013, when we celebrated the bicentenary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, still Austen’s most popular work.

This year, we have an altogether more melancholy occasion to mark – the two hundredth anniversary of Austen’s death, on July 18, 1817, at the all-too-young age of forty-one. (Depending how you count, it may also be the bicentenary of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, published together in a three-volume set that appeared in December 1817 with a title-page publication date of 1818.)

Across the planet, and especially in Austen’s home country of England, Austen fans will celebrate her life and mourn her death at balls, exhibits, lectures, conferences and festivals. Our shelves will creak under the weight of Austen-related books published to coincide with the anniversary. And in Britain, wallets will fill up with Austen-embellished currency. We may even get to see a new Austen movie.

An unscientific, and undoubtedly incomplete, sampling of what’s ahead:

By Deborah Yaffe, Mar 19 2015 01:00PM

Okay, I admit I’m mostly linking this because I get a kick out of the baby-in-a-bonnet photo.

But it’s also true that this coming weekend’s Jane Austen Literary Festival in Mandeville, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans, sounds like a lot of fun.

I’m especially drawn to the Regency hairstyling booth; the “Looking for Mr. Darcy” oratory competition, featuring read-alouds of passages from Mansfield Park; and the love-letter contest, which promotes the stated mission of the eight-year-old event: “To foster the fine art of letter-writing.” (Amen to that! Can’t anyone around here even write a literate email message? With correct punctuation, maybe?)

The festival is sponsored by something called the Jane Austen Foundation of Louisiana, which I take it is not affiliated with the better-known Jane Austen Society of North America. The weekend celebration is one of a number of local Jane Austen festivals that have sprung up across the globe in the past decade or so – further evidence, once again, that Janeites are all around us.

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