Baron-Forness Library will feature a Jane Austen exhibit commemorating Women’s History Month. The exhibit will run from March 12-31, and will be located on the second floor of the library next to the multimedia computer lab. The exhibit will feature portraits of Jane Austen, focus on the Regency era and investigate the timeless appeal of her writing which is enjoying a resurgence of public interest. Lora Whitney coordinated this exhibit.
Jane Austen’s novels have enjoyed wide popularity since they were originally published in the early 1800’s. There has been renewed public interest in the works of Jane Austen since A&E aired its lavish version of Pride and Prejudice in 1996, starring Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennett and Colin Firth as Fitzwilliam Darcy. Last year PBS aired a series of Jane Austen movies. The 2006 remake of Pride and Prejudice starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfayden and the 2007 biographical movie Becoming Jane starring Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy capitalized on the success of other recent Austen movies including two versions of Emma, one starring Gwyneth Paltrow and one starring Kate Beckinsale, and Sense and Sensibility, starring Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson. These movies all sharpened the reading public’s appetite for more Austen-esque books and movies.
This rebirth of interest in the works of Jane Austen spawned a number of novels that are loosely based on the author’s works. Some modern authors have chosen to rewrite Austen’s works from a male character’s viewpoint. These novels often take the form of letters or diary entries. Other writers have chosen to move Austen’s characters forward in time by continuing their stories. Fictionalized accounts of Jane Austen’s life have been written and at least one author has written a series of Jane Austen mysteries, featuring Jane as a sleuth. Some writers have adapted Austen’s plots to contemporary times. A few authors have created heroines who time-travel back to Austen’s era in order to find their own Mr. Darcys. Examples of these Jane Austen read-alikes are featured in the exhibit.
Today travelers can enjoy Jane Austen-themed vacations. There are a number of Jane Austen societies worldwide, including major organizations in North America, Australia, and England and smaller regional groups that sponsor activities such as Regency Balls and picnics. The Edinboro University Women’s Association features a Jane Austen special interest group that meets periodically to investigate the culture, fashions, food, and history of the Regency era. For more information on this local JASIG, contact Eleanor Randall, x2783.
Jane Austen Society of Australia
The Republic of Pemberley
A Regency Era Primer