Worldwide Jane in 2018
Once upon a time, Jane Austen was a British writer. But today, she’s an international phenomenon, with fan societies on at least five continents. As 2018 dawns, herewith an entirely unscientific and incomplete sampling of a few of the places Austen will turn up this year, as fans mark the sort-of bicentennials of Austen’s last two published novels:
* In a bookstore in Islamabad, where members of the Jane Austen Society of Pakistan will convene to discuss Austenistan, their newly released collection of Austen-inspired stories set in contemporary Pakistan.
* In a nineteenth-century town hall in Salem, Massachusetts, where Regency dance enthusiasts will celebrate at a Jane Austen Ball.
* In a Baroque palace in Ansbach, Germany, where yet more dancing will take place at Der Grosse Jane Austen Ball.
* In a building called “the Dutch Versailles,” where Austen’s fans in the Netherlands will celebrate the bicentenary of Persuasion with still another ball.
(Which should not be confused with the Gothic ball being held in a suburban London church a week later to celebrate the bicentenary of Northanger Abbey.
* At a women’s university in Tokyo, where the Jane Austen Society of Japan will hold its twelfth annual convention.
* In the capital of Australia, Canberra, where the country’s Jane Austen Society will hold a weekend-long conference on the bicentenary of Persuasion.
* On streets where Austen herself once walked, as Georgian-costumed revelers parade through Bath, England, during the annual Jane Austen Festival.
Here's hoping that this year you find a dance, a tea, a conference, an exhibition, a festival -- or even just a conversation -- about Jane Austen somewhere near you.