Austen at Large: Missing the Jane Austen Centre

Virginia Claire and friend, the Jane Austen Festival (2008)

This week I have been thinking about my experience as an intern at the good ol’ Jane Austen Centre last year, which I miss so much. I might have the good fortune to go back to England during the summer, but I will not know till the end of this month. In thinking about returning to England this week, I have also been thinking about how much I miss Bath and the Jane Austen Centre. Coming back to the US has been both wonderful and trying. I miss England everyday and wished that I had planned to stay a year. If I was giving advice to someone trying to study abroad I would really suggest going for a year. I think by the end of the semester you are just at the tip of the iceberg and that a full year would better allow you to immerse yourself in the life and society.

I just miss everyone at the Jane Austen Centre. I still keep in contact with many of them and have seen some of the new updates and improvements to the exhibition. From my understanding everything has been going well, especially after the exhibition was reopened after it was renovated. I love the new layout and look of it. I think what I miss most about the JAC is the people. I loved everyone that I worked with and they were such a wonderful and eclectic group. Everyone brought their own particular interest or spin to Jane Austen that it was really a wonderful place to grow in love and knowledge of her writing. I can remember just being in the gift shop passing the time and sticking up all sorts of interesting conversations with my co workers. This is perhaps where I learned the most about Austen, not from some book, but from talking about her and questioning.

Virginia Claire and her friends at the Jane Austen Festival (2008)

Every now and again I go through all my pictures from England and some of my favorites are from the Jane Austen Festival and my going away dinner with the Jane Austen Centre staff. I love reminiscing over these because they bring back such wonderful memories, but it is also hard because I know that that time is gone. I wish I could go back; I am dying to go back. Looking at the pictures is sometimes bitter sweet because though it reminds me of wonderful times it also reminds me that I will not be back at the Jane Austen Festival this year. I am hoping to return in a few years perhaps when I get out of school, but who knows. One of the good parts about being back though is that I am able to still fill that Jane Austen void in my life because of my Jane Austen class and writing this weekly article for Austenprose. It is so wonderful to be able to bring forward things each week that interest me and read everyone else’s thoughts on the comments.

In my Jane Austen class we have just finished Mansfield Park and have started Emma. One of our assignments for next week is to write a modern blog for a character in Emma concerning Harriet Smith and the Mr. Elton fiasco. My friend and I are doing Mr. Elton’s point of view for our blog, so hopefully I will be able to post that next week for everyone to enjoy. We had so much fun in reading my friend Maggie’s contribution earlier in the year that my teacher decided to have us all write a new one to see how creative we could be. It should be a really funny class!

Emma, by Jane Austen (Oxford World's Classics) 2008In filling my English void I have resulted to drinking lots of hot tea, even though it is getting warmer down here in North Carolina, and to watching British comedies like Jeeves and Wooster. Not to mention, of course, reading Jane Austen’s Emma. This is such a fun novel to reread. I will be really interested to see what everyone else thinks who has not read Emma before, and those of us who have in my class are trying to watch what we say, so that we don’t give anything away!

Till Next Week, Cheerio!

Virginia Claire

Virginia Claire, our Austen at Large roving reporter is a college student studying English literature and history who just returned from her time studying abroad in Bath England and working as an intern at the Jane Austen Centre. She is the Regional Coordinator of JASNA North Carolina and a lifelong Janeite. She will be sharing her thoughts on all things Austen this semester and remembering her travels in Austenland.

  • Watch a short promotional film about the Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England
  • Visit the Jane Austen Centre online Gift Shop
  • Catch up on Virginia Claire’s experience last year as an Intern at the Jane Austen Centre in the Austen Intern Checks In archives

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