Like everyone else, the Janeite community has been battered by pandemic and lockdown, with iconic tourist sites closed and financially struggling, while beloved annual events face cancellation or indefinite postponement.
Amid all this gloom and doom, it’s encouraging to find green shoots of optimism—most imminently, the online Lockdown Literary Festival, sponsored by Chawton House in Hampshire, England, which starts tomorrow and runs through Sunday.
The festival will include talks, discussions, and creative writing workshops featuring an array of novelists, critics, and historians -- mostly talking about Jane Austen, or at least about her world and her influences. You'll be able to learn about female pirates, hear Austen-inspired novelists read from recent work, go behind the scenes at Austen literary sites, and gain new insights into Regency fashion.
Except for the sold-out workshops, which required pre-registration and a £5 fee, the events are free for viewing on Chawton House's YouTube channel. Pre-recorded talks will be uploaded beginning at 10 am (British time), and live-on-Zoom-or-Twitter Q&As will follow many of them.
It's not quite a substitute for those in-person Austen events we're already missing, but it’s bound to be a pleasant break from Netflix.