Austenprose is very pleased to present our first feature columnist, Virginia Claire Tharrington, straight from the trenches of Austen central, The Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England where she is interning until December. Join her every Saturday as she shares with us her incredible adventure that every Janeite, and even Austen’s heroine Catherine Morland would envy!
Jane Austen once wrote, “if adventure will not befall a young lady in her own village she must seek them aboard.” This I am doing to the fullest extent. I have come all the way to Bath England, in my junior year of college, to study and discover both Jane and myself. I am an American student from an all women’s college in North Carolina who has come to Bath to study with Advanced Studies in England for the semester and intern in the Jane Austen Centre.
My love for Austen started at a young age. In fact, I don’t know if I remember a time before Lizzy, Darcy and Jane. My mother got me hooked at about 3 years old on the videos when I would watch the older 80s version of P&P for hours, even as a young child. Then I would beg her to read it to be by calling it “Pride and Precious” because I could not say “Prejudice”. Mom thought I had just fallen in love with the clothes or something like that but I believe that it went deeper than that. Years later when I had a sister 10 years younger than me I tried to get her to watch the videos with me as I had but she had NO interest in sitting in one place for 30minutes much less 3 hours so I had to give up hope of bringing up another Janeite in the family.
I read the books for the first time on my own in about 6th grade. Ever since then Jane Austen has been a staple of my literary life. My obsession has slowly grown through high school where I started a Jane Austen Book Club my senior year, and was definitely know as the girl with a strange obsession with Jane Austen .
It was also through this book club that I got involved with JASNA which has influenced my love of Jane considerably. I got involved with the group just as a way to make contact for my book club and get advice, but it has become so much more. I am now the regional coordinator for JASNA NC. This has been an amazing experience for me not only because I am so young but it has given me a new love for Jane Austen’s legacy. It is absolutely amazing that she is so popular and still touches so many people almost 190 years after her death. I also have been collecting copies of Pride and Prejudice for years (much to my mother’s dislike because she doesn’t know why I have sooo many). I have more than 60 copies and in 6 languages from all over the world. Anytime I travel to a new place I try to get a copy to remember the trip by.
I found my internship and study abroad program because I was googling “Jane Austen internship”. Several years ago I had seen an article on a publication from the Centre that an intern had written. I was slightly excited at the time that a place like the Jane Austen Centre in Bath would have interns but I didn’t know how you would go about getting the position so I forgot about it, until my fateful online search. Once I saw that ASE offered a program in Bath with the internship I can remember going to tell my mom “I am studying abroad next semester“. She was slightly shocked because I was already going to be studying in Iceland for the month of June and we were also at a Basketball game so I think she just thought I was excited. But anyone who knows me know that once I get my mind on something it is almost impossible to keep me from completing my goal.
Though the journey to securing the internship was anything but an easy road, it has paid off tenfold in my time here thus far. I cannot wait to continue to share my experiences because I know this is a chance of a lifetime and any Janeites dream. Let’s just hope that “adventures” continue to befall me!
Signing off until next week,
Virginia Claire Tharrington
Intern, The Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England