Month of Austen 2017

Who is Jane Austen?

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen’s plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favorable social standing and economic security. Her works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century literary realism.

With the publications of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began another, eventually titled Sanditon, but died before its completion. Her novels have rarely been out of print, although they were published anonymously and brought her little fame during her lifetime.

Austen’s novels have resulted in sequels, prequels and adaptations of almost every type, from soft-core pornography to fantasy. From the 19th century, her family members published conclusions to her incomplete novels, and by 2000 there were over 100 printed adaptations.  The first dramatic adaptation of Austen was published in 1895, Rosina Filippi’s Duologues and Scenes from the Novels of Jane Austen: Arranged and Adapted for Drawing-Room Performance, and Filippi was also responsible for the first professional stage adaptation, The Bennets (1901).

The first film adaptation was the 1940 MGM production of Pride and Prejudice starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson.  BBC television dramatizations since the 1970s have attempted to adhere meticulously to Austen’s plots, characterizations, and settings.  From 1995 a large number of Austen adaptations began to appear, with Ang Lee’s film of Sense and Sensibility, for which screenwriter and star Emma Thompson won an Academy Award, and the BBC’s immensely popular TV mini-series Pride and Prejudice, starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth.  A 2005 British production of Pride and Prejudice, directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, was followed in 2007 by ITV’s Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion, and in 2016 by Love & Friendship, a film version of Lady Susan that borrowed the title of Austen’s Love and Friendship.


November 1st: Movie Night

Northanger Abbey is a 2007 British television film adaptation of Jane Austen’s eponymous novel. It was directed by British television director Jon Jones and the screenplay was written by Andrew Davies. Felicity Jones stars as the protagonist Catherine Morland and JJ Feild plays her love interest Henry Tilney. The story unfolds as the teenaged Catherine is invited to Bath to accompany some family friends. There she finds herself the object of Henry Tilney’s and John Thorpe’s (William Beck) affections. When she is asked to stay at Northanger Abbey, Catherine’s youthful and naive imagination takes hold and she begins to confuse real life with the Gothic romance of her favorite novels.

Northanger Abbey was shot on location in Ireland from late August 2006 on a budget of £2 million. The drama was co-produced by Granada Productions and American studio WGBH Boston. Northanger Abbey garnered mostly positive reviews from television critics, with many praising the cast’s performances.


November 8th: An Evening of Engagement with Ursula Gross

Tonight’s Evening of Engagement will feature Ursula Gross, an Austen scholar who has shared her knowledge with us in previous Months of Austen and who returns to us now!  Tonight will combine our regular Book Club meeting with a wider discussion of Austen in both her own time, and in ours.  You can enjoy Ursula’s own writing here, and to explore the wider world of “Janeites” her writing describes, please visit the Jane Austen Society of North America or borrow a copy of Among the Janeites by Deborah Yaffe.  A selection of Regency Era treats will be served during this presentation.


November 8th: Books ‘n’ Bites

The Book Club selection for the 2017 Month of Austen is Northanger Abbey.  Please join us in reading this lesser known novel by Jane Austen, and then attend the Evening of Engagement with Ursula Gross to delve deeper into the volume.  A selection of Regency Era treats will be served during this meeting.

Northanger Abbey was the first of Jane Austen’s novels to be completed for publication, in 1803, but it wasn’t until after her death in 1817 that it was published, along with her other novel Persuasion.   The novel is a satire of the Gothic novels popular at the time of its first writing in 1798–99.  This “coming of age,” story revolves around the main character, Catherine, a young and naïve “heroine,” who entertains us on her journey of self-knowledge as she gains a better understanding of the world and those around her.   Because of her experiences, reality sets in and she discovers that she is not like other women who crave for wealth or social acceptance, but instead she is a true heroine in that she is an ordinary young woman who wishes to have nothing but happiness and a genuine sense of morality.

Austen first titled it Susan, when she sold it in 1803 for £10 to a London bookseller, Crosby & Co., who decided against publishing.  In the spring of 1816, the bookseller sold it back to the novelist’s brother, Henry Austen, for the same sum, as the bookseller did not know that the writer was by then the author of four popular novels. She further revised the novel in 1816-1817, with the intention of having it published. The lead character’s name was changed from Susan to Catherine, and Austen changed the working title to Catherine.

The novel is more explicitly comic than her other works and contains many literary allusions that her parents and siblings would have enjoyed, as a family entertainment—a piece of lighthearted parody to be read aloud by the fireside. The novel names many of the Gothic novels of that time and includes direct commentary by Austen on the value of novels, which were not valued as much as nonfiction or historical fiction.


Wednesdays & Thursdays, 3:00-5:00pm

Visit the Tech Studio on the lower level of the Library to explore the technologies of Regency England and the world of Jane Austen (like the clock pictured at right which could have been found in any wealthy home of the period).  Design and print Regency Era items using our 3D printers.  Immerse yourself in a virtual world  through the use of our Oculus Rift.  Use our Green Screen to create images of yourself at Northanger Abbey, or on the moors, or having tea with Jane.


Story Times throughout the month (please visit the Story Time website for dates and times)

A selection of child friendly books and crafts related to our Month of Austen will be available during regularly scheduled story times.  If you cannot attend a story time this month, you may wish to borrow one of these books for enjoyment at home or on the road.  Just click on the book cover for location (or digital access) information.




Tween, Teens, and Young Adults

Jane Austen’s heroines are smart, independent, sarcastic, and witty.  There are hundreds of spinoffs, adaptations, prequels, sequels, movies, and graphic novels. If you’re looking for a fun new way to experience Austen, click on the covers below, visit the Good Reads  Young Adult Austen list, or ask for additional ideas at the library’s Service Desk (there’s a flowchart in the Galleria that might help too!)





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