What to do, see, and read to celebrate the Jane Austen bicentenary this year.

10 Ways to Celebrate #JaneAusten200

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen remains one of the best writers that has put pen to paper. Okay, well maybe that’s just my exaggerated and rather biased opinion. But if the never-ending stream of popular film renditions and fan fiction novels are any indication, I would say that I’m not the only one who thinks so. There really is something magical about her Regency-era tales. And yes, I do adore them for the endless daydreaming material they offer of countryside picnic scenes and romantic balls. But that’s not the only reason my bookshelf is lined with Austen’s novels. Those that bother to look beneath the surface will find that her prose is laced with social satire and fierce feminist sentiments. Plus, the fact that she was a woman who was professionally writing at the turn of the nineteenth century is a feat in itself. So join me today, in celebrating her legacy, for exactly 200 years ago she passed away at the age of 41 years old. Exhibitions and events across the globe this year have been planned to mark the Jane Austen bicentenary, so read on for a round-up of what to do to honour the life of our beloved lady of letters.

10 Ways to Celebrate the Jane Austen Bicentenary


SEE

If you’re in the UK, check out this must-see exhibition titled Retail and Romance: Jane Goes to the Ball at the Willis Museum in Basingstoke. It discusses the world of balls in Austen’s time, commenting on the cuisine people ate, what they gossiped about, and what gowns they donned.

On view July 19, 2017–October 7, 2017.

Austen’s novels, such as Mansfield Park to Persuasion are full of naval references. And for good reason: her brothers Francis and Charles both served on the seas during the golden age of the British navy. In an exhibition titled The Navy at the Time of Jane Austen: Fighting, Flirting and Fortune at the Gosport Gallery, discover the ins and outs of social life on the ships in Austen’s era.

On view from July 15, 2017–September 20, 2017.

And closer to home, stop by the Jane Austen’s World exhibition at the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario, which tells the story of everyday life in the Regency era through clothing.

On view from July 19, 2017–December 17, 2017.

“Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure” – Jane Austen

DO

Indulge your inner child and get in on the adult colouring book trend. Colours of Jane Austen by Susanna Geoghegan is one of my personal favourites (it has a spot on my shelf right between my Anna Karenina and Frozen colouring books.) Make your mark on Austen’s classic novels  Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma by colouring in picturesque images of English country houses and empire-waist ball gowns.

Available at Chapters Indigo here.

This September, the Bank of England is  releasing a 10-pound bank note featuring a portrait of Austen and one of my favourite quotes from  Pride and Prejudice: “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” Keep your eyes out for a bill to hold onto, because this will definitely become a collector’s item.

Find out more here.

Take a moment to yourself, put on a pot of tea, and escape into one of Austen’s classic novels. I recently purchased a handmade mug from Ellie Dashwood’s Etsy shop DashwoodDesignShop  featuring charming illustrations of Austen’s six heroines—Elizabeth, Catherine, Anne, Eleanor, Fanny, and Emma—that I can’t wait to use next time I pour myself a cup of tea.

Buy one for yourself from Etsy here.

“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort” – Jane Austen

READ

The Joy of Jane: Thoughts on the First 200 Years of Austen’s Legacy by Tim Bullamore and Deirdre Le Faye is a compelling compilation of pieces by prominent writers and Austen experts expressing their thoughts on her legacy and work.

Available on Amazon here.

Jane Austen at Home: A Biography by Austen-afficionado Lucy Worsley tell’s Austen’s biography through a discussion of the various homes she lived at, the schools she attended, and the spots she vacationed at. Considering Austen’s books focus so much on the exploration of space and identity through home, this book seems to capture Austen’s spirit perfectly.

Available on Amazon here.

Jane Austen, the Secret Radical by Deckle Edge exposes the subversive attitudes peppered throughout Austen’s novels that most people miss, such as her commentary on topics such as slavery, feminism, religion, and science. Toss a copy of this tome at the next person that rolls their eyes at your love for Austen’s novels, and assumes you must be just another meek and blushing damsel.

Available on Amazon here.

Take some time to read Sanditon, one of Austen’s unfinished and often forgotten novels. There are rumours that there may be a film adaptation in the making, so make sure to prepare yourself in advance. For after all, the book is always better than the movie.

Available on Amazon here.

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid” – Jane Austen

HOW ARE YOU CELEBRATING THE JANE AUSTEN BICENTENARY? WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE JANE AUSTEN NOVEL? WHICH AUSTEN HEROINE DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY WITH? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

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What to do, see, and read to celebrate the Jane Austen bicentenary this year.

 

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