Jane Austen Birthday Celebration

The pleasure of sipping tea and eating scones with Devonshire cream at the Brown Palace Hotel. What more could you ask?

Celebrating Jane Austen’s life, books, and characters was the real reason for gathering at the Brown Palace. Every year the Denver/Boulder Regional Chapter (and probably many other chapters) of the Jane Austen Society of North America holds a birthday tea in honor of the iconic writer. This year was Jane’s 233rd birthday.

Besides hearing reports from members who attended the Annual General Meeting, we matched quotes with novels and took a quiz on the characteristics of readers of Austen. Most of us failed it royally. Proves that Austen readers defy categorizing, I guess.

When I joined this group about a year ago, I expected to find a number of Austen readers like myself, who cherish the books and have read them over and over. I did find that, but I also discovered in the members a depth of knowledge of Jane Austen’s books, letters, unpublished work, juvenalia, life and family that astonished me. Many members are also quite knowledgable about writers who followed Jane and whose books perhaps owe a debt to her, such as Elizabeth Gaskell. Others are experts in all things Regency, including historical novels set in the Regency period.

I think it’s fascinating that all age levels are represented, from the very young, in their early twenties, to the 60-and-up crowd. There are also men who attend the meetings.

Two of our members have books out: Dr. Rebecca Dickson, Jane Austen: An Illustrated Treasury, and Janet Smith (under the name Jane Greensmith), Intimations of Austen: Stories Inspired by the Works of Jane Austen.

Our chapter voted the version of Sense and Sensibility, broadcast on PBS last winter, as our favorite of the new productions. Which was your favorite? Which characters did you feel best exemplified Austen’s portrayal of them?

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