The Jane Austen Society of North Texas celebrated Jane Austen’s 235th birthday and I sat next to Jane at the luncheon. Everyone thought she was a regular Janeite in period dress but I saw her struggle with the escalator, noted how she walked behind me into the dining room on account of unmarried ladies go last, and grimaced when I mentioned I’d written a book called My Jane Austen Summer. Nobody in JASNA grimaces at Jane Austen, Summer or not.
She didn’t talk much, but she wrote on ivory squares, and, being close, I could look sideways without moving my head and secretly read her notes. She wrote:
Let other dead authors dwell on posthumous fame and birthdays, my hair is at least tidy, which is all my ambition.
Jane Austen listened very carefully to the guest speaker’s talk entitled, “Sense and Sensibility: Jane Austen’s Problem Novel”. Jane wrote:
Problem Novel? Abuse everybody but me.
I passed her a note, asking her if she’d like to speak to the group, stressing that her ability to bring such a diverse group of readers together, to discuss a book 200 years after its publication, should be celebrated. She wrote back:
I am very well satisfied with their notice–thankful to have it continued a few years longer!
I said they’d be thrilled to hear her insights. She wrote back:
You are very, very kind to hint at the sort of talk which might recommend me at present and I am fully sensible that an explanation of my immortal blaze might be much more to the purpose than rehashing the six novels I deal in–but I could no more account for my sustained supernova status–I could not sit seriously down and to compose a serious explanation of my ability to cut across languages, centuries, and planets for all we know, under any other motive than to save my life, & if it were indispensable for me to keep it up & never relax into laughing at myself and other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the introductory remarks. No–I must go my own Way.
She slipped a handful of Splenda packets into her reticule and departed via the fire stairwell.
Before she left, I wished her a Happy 235th Birthday.
You can join the party today to celebrate Jane’s birthday by visiting the blogs listed here. Leave a comment on this blog and be included in a drawing for one of many wonderful prizes (listed below).
WHERE THE PARTY’S AT:
- Adriana Zardini, at Jane Austen Sociedad do Brasil
- Laurel Ann, at Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog
- Vic Sanborn, at Jane Austen’s World
- Katherine Cox, at November’s Autumn
- Karen Wasylowski, at Karen Wasylowski Blog
- Laurie Viera Rigler, at Jane Austen Addict Blog
- Lynn Shepherd, at her Lynn Shepherd Blog
- Jane Greensmith, at Reading, Writing, Working, Playing
- Jane Odiwe, at Jane Austen Sequels Blog
- Alexa Adams, at First Impressions Blog
- Regina Jeffers, at her Regina Jeffers Blog
- Cindy Jones at First Draft Blog
- Janet Mullany at Risky Regencies Blog
- Maria Grazia at My Jane Austen Book Club Blog
- Meredith at Austenesque Reviews
GIFTS & GIVEAWAYS: Visit all the blogs TODAY and leave your comments + e-mail address to have lots of chances to win one of the wonderful gifts we are giving away:
Books – 1 signed copy, directly from the author, of …
- Willoughby’s Return by Jane Odiwe
- Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
- Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
- Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepherd
- Intimations of Austen by Jane Greensmith
- Darcy’s Passions: Fitzwilliam Darcy’s Story by Regina Jeffers
- First Impressions. A Tale of Less Pride and Prejudice by Alexa Adams
- Jane and the Damned by Janet Mullany
- Bespelling Jane Austen by Janet Mullany
- Austen bag offered by Karen Wasylowski
- DVD Pride & Prejudice 2005 offered by Regina Jeffers
- package of Bingley’s Tea (flavor “Marianne’s Wild Abandon” ) offered by Cindy Jones
- DVD Jane Austen in Manhattan offered by Maria Grazia
- 3 issues of Jane Austen’s Regency World offered by Maria Grazia