It has been a wonderful adventure, but Jane Austen Centre intern Virginia Claire Tharrington reports in for the last time before she departs for home in the US. Please give her a big hand and lots of thank you comments for her weeks of wonderful commentary and photos that we all have enjoyed during these past three months!
By the time this blog is posted I will be on a plane home to the US. I truly can’t believe that my time in Bath is over. It feels like I have been here forever and yet at the same time it seems like I only left yesterday. This last week has revolved around turning in my dissertation, packing and saying good bye to everyone in my program and at the Jane Austen Centre. Here is a quick rundown of my days
Tuesday I was so excited to turn in my dissertation which ended up being 79 pages!! I cant believe I wrote that much. The body of the paper was only was about 39 pages and the rest was appendixes. (In which I included all of these articles I have been writing!). My dissertation was on Jane Austen adaptations and after I turned it in we of course went home and watched Pride and Prejudice, though I will never be able to fully enjoy and adaptation again without analyzing and critiquing it.
Virginia and the staff of the Jane Austen Centre at her farewell dinner.
L to R Virginia, Donna, Glynis, Terry, Chris, Clare, Sue and Judith.
Wednesday I had my Jane Austen exam which is the first exam that I can ever say I enjoyed writing. After my exam I went to the Jane Austen Centre to guide for the afternoon and then go out to dinner. We had such a wonderful dinner at the Italian restaurant next door. There were 9 of us from the Centre and we had a fantastic dinner.
Virginia (center) with Chris and Clare from the Austen Centre
I truly felt so loved in leaving dinner because everyone was so sweet and thoughtful to me. One of the highlights of this semester for me has been getting to know everyone at the Jane Austen Centre. They are too good to me and gave me so many wonderful gifts including a first edition copy of the Watson because that was what she started in Bath.
Virginia and the Jane Austen Centre Director Jackie Herring
Thursday was my last day guiding at the Centre and I gave an excellent final talk yet avoided giving one after close to all the staff. Jackie was threatening me because none of the staff had heard my talk but luckily I didn’t have to because I would have been either really scared or laughing hysterically all throughout the talk.
Virginia and a close friend
After I carried Jane in for the last time (the statue out front of the Centre) I went home to pack up all my life here in Bath and get ready to head home.
Friday was a busy day full of packing, prepping and weighing my bags trying to keep them under weight yet to no avail. I just have too much stuff to pack, but I guess it is worth it. I have so much wonderful stuff from the Centre and all over England. We had our final ASE tea which was so lovely and internship coordinator teared up when I was talking to him. Of course I stopped by the Centre to tell everyone bye and to take a few more pictures! I will miss them all so much!
I can’t believe how fast the semester has gone and how much has happened. It feels almost surreal that I have been here for 3 1/2 months. I have learned so much about Jane Austen and about myself. I never thought I would have the guts to leave home and go abroad for the semester yet I did and it has been the best experience. Jane Austen has brought me to Bath and it has been so rewarding. I have gained confidence, as a public speaker and as a Jane Austen student. I have been giving introductory talks since September 18th and have been improving witheach one. I think what I have really gained most from the Centre was the experience of working with such wonderful and knowledgeable people. Each person in the Centre brings something new and different to the group which makes is so refreshing to know so many of them. They do not all fit into the mold of Janeites, yet they do all fit into the mold of passionate people. I have tried to reach out to everyone I work with and get to know them. The most wonderful part is that they all have reached out to me as well.
“Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes shine to the stars. Enthusiasm is your eyes, the swing in your gait. The grip of your hand, the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas.“ Henry Ford
I think this Henry Ford quote perfectly expresses what I have learned at the Jane Austen Centre. Passion is so important to everything we undertake. It can make something dull seem exciting and something trite seems exhilarating. I have tried to be enthusiastic about every task I undertake at the Jane Austen Centre weather it be shredding old files, giving talks or working in the gift shop. Being at the Jane Austen Centre brightens my day. I enjoy my time there not because of any one particular person or thing, but just the fact that I am surrounded by passionate people who I can talk about Jane Austen with.
Being able to grow in my knowledge of Jane Austen has been one of the highlights of my time in Bath. I have learned so much about her life and times. We do not have a lot of information about Jane Austen but perhaps one of the best ways to get to know her is through her novels. This I have been doing by re-reading all her works for class. I have gotten so much pleasure out of each them but the best part is that I have really enjoyed books, like Mansfield Park andNorthanger Abbey which use to give me trouble. In studying these two works more in-depth I have been able to see them as hidden gems. Mansfield Parkparticularly I have found very enjoyable and yet not for any specific reason. I do not love the hero or heroine like I do FitzwilliamDarcy and Elizabeth Bennet, or I am engrossed with the Crawfords either. What I have found to be so enticing about re-reading this novel is that each time I have, I get something new and different out of it. Mansfield Park is not about any central character but rather the interpersonal relationships between this seemingly tight knit group of people, who come to find out that they do not know one another at all. My knowledge of Austen has grown so much through reading about her life, listening to talks and being at the Centre.
Virginia in Regency attire at the Jane Austen Festival (2008)
Studying Jane Austen in Bath has shown me that enthusiasm for a subject is essential. I love Jane Austen and her writings and hope that my time in Bath may lead me to pursue her further in my studies. I have a passion sharing Austen with others and always want people to see the brilliance and humor of her writings. I think I have met with every project enthusiastically that the Centre has given me. Being there has shown me so much about what I am capable of, if I love what I am doing. I can write 12,000 words with ease, or talk to strangers for 20 minutes with excitement because I love what I am doing. Being the intern at the Jane Austen Centre has allowed me to explore my passions in a way that no other place could and I will have fond memories of it for the rest of my life. I have tried to live by the famous line from Northanger Abbey, “If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village she must seek them aboard“. I have done this at the Jane Austen Centre. Jane Austen brought me to Bath and it is because of her that I have enjoyed everything so much. I would also like to thank my boss at the Centre Jackie Herring for everything she has done for me this semester in allowing me to intern at the Centre and help at the festival and Andrew Butterworth my internship coordinator for ASW who helped me secure the internship and worked with me thought out everything.
Until Next semester then! CHERRIO and OUT!
Virginia Claire Tharrington
Intern, The Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England
You can read all of Virginia’s previous reports in the Austen Intern archives
Our most sincere thanks to Virginia for reporting to us on her experience at the Jane Austen Center and traveling in England. It has been such a delight to be included in her adventure. We are quite certain that Catherine Morland has approved! Please join Virginia next semester when she continues to chat with us about Jane Austen during her college studies in North Carolina.