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

Austen at Large: Bringing Jane Austen to Schools

Virginia Claire speaking to students about Jane Austen (2009)

Since returning home from my Internship at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath and my travels in England, I have been very fortunate to be invited by my old high school, Saint Mary’s School and another high school called St. David’s to speak about my Austen travels and Pride and Prejudice to several classes. I have given at least half a dozen of these talks this year and have really enjoyed doing it. I have really wanted to do these talks because though my love of Jane Austen started from a young age, it was fostered and nourished by my high school teachers.

Virginia Claire with her former teacher Dr. Belknap of St. Mary's High School (2009)

I hope the students learned something new about Austen or that I have brought up topics that they have not considered before. I start my presentation giving a brief Austen biography, the family history and so on, and then move into her writing and life in Bath. 

Virginia Claire and two Regency Bucks, the Jane Austen Festival (2008)Most of the kids enjoy all of my pictures from the Jane Austen festival when I am dressed up in Regency style and they get a good reaction. I go through the different places she lived in Bath since I have pictures of many of them. Explaining why Bath was important, difficult and influential to Austen. 

Chawton Cottage, Jane Austen's last residenceI then move to Chawton which I think intrigues the students the most since that is where she lived and where Austen wrote or re-wrote her novels. When talking about Chawton I discuss the influence of her sister Cassandra, the publishing of her novels, and then her decline of health. I also show pictures of the house in Winchester where she died and her grave stone. One of the questions I always propose to the students is; what is missing from her description on her grave? Which reads,

In Memory of
youngest daughter of the late
formerly Rector of Steventon in this County She departed this Life on the 18th of July1817, aged 41, after a long illness supported with the patience and hopes of a Christian.
The benevolence of her heart, the sweetness of her temper, and
the extraordinary endowments of her mind obtained the regard of all who knew her and the warmest love of her intimate connections. Their grief is in proportion to their affection they know their loss to be irreparable, but in their deepest affliction they are consoled by a firm though humble hope that her charity, devotion, faith and purity have rendered her soul acceptable in the sight of her REDEEMER.

I always point out to them that it does not mention her writing. This shocks many of the students because they are unaware that her novels were published “by a lady” rather than publishing under her own name.

Jane Austen's grave stone, Winchester Cathedral

After giving a little bio I then like to talk to the students about Jane Austen’s legacy. Several students, but never as many as I expected, have read Austen novels, or seen the movies before. Perhaps I only think this because I was introduced to Austen at a young age but I always felt like many people in my classes had read Pride and Prejudice before or at least seen the movies. Austen’s legacy is one of the most important aspects of teaching about her because her popularity has been growing so much over the last years and it is interesting to ask the students why. I try to explain to the students that Austen is so much more than a romantic comedy writer. Her novels are full of issues that are still important today, many are still funny today but they still bring to light issues that though might have changed over the years are still there. One point I also try to hit home with students is about the movies and not to take them literally as the novel, but as someone else’s interpretation. I encourage them to question them and interpret it their own way. I also try to emphasize the over romanticizing of Austen in many movies and what that does to the story. Later in the semester I will be going back to one class to talk with them about adaptations and what they change and show about Austen. It should be a very interesting discussion.

Pride and Prejudice (1980) DVD cover      Pride and Prejudice (1995) DVD cover

In doing these talks this semester I have learned so much about teaching Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice. It has been an amazing experience to try and really introduce students to Jane Austen and try to bring my passion to them. I think that is one thing that most of the students get – my passion for Jane Austen. When I speak at these classes, I really love what I am talking about and it makes me think that I want to do this professionally. I would love to be able to teach literature and spread my love of not only Jane Austen but of reading and literature in general. We will see what I end up doing after college and where this world will take me, but in the end, I would just love to spread my love of Jane Austen, wither it be to the world or to a group of students.

Until next week,

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.

An Austen Intern Reports in from The Jane Austen Centre: Week 15 Farewell!

Virginia Claire Tharrington and Jane Austen (statue) at the Jane Austen Centre, Bath (2008)

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 with the staff of the Jane Austen Centre (2008)

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.

Chris, Virginia and Clare (Austen Centre staff)

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 Claire Tharrington and Jackie Herring, Director of the Jane Austen Centre (2008)

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 Claire Tharrington and a close friend (2008)

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 Claire Tharrington at the Jane Austen Festival (2008)

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.

The Jane Austen Centre logoUntil 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.

An Austen Intern Reports in from The Jane Austen Centre: Week 14

The Jane Austen Centre Gift Shopp Holiday Teddy Bear Display (2008)

Holiday bear display in the Gift Shop window at the Jane Austen Centre

The advenure continues as intern Virginia Claire Tharrington reports in on her experience at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England.

Christmas is coming to the Jane Austen Centre, which as exciting as it is, means that I will be leaving soon. I had my final Jane Austen class this week with my tutor Felicity James. This has been such an amazing class partnered with my time at the Jane Austen Centre. I have been working diligently on my dissertation this past week. It is due on Tuesday so I hope it will be “ship shape and Bristol fashion”! I leave for home in a week. I cannot believe how the time has flown by. It does not seem like that long ago that I was just arriving in Bath wide eyed and ready to go. I am still enjoying every minute of Bath but it has become comfortable, which it should, and has really begun to feel like home in some ways. Though I am missing my family more and more at the beginning of this Christmas season!

The first Christams tree exhibit at the Jane Austen Centre

Christmas exhibit at the Jane Austen Centre (2008)

Christmas at the Centre has been coming on rather slowly after Memorial Sunday but this last week it has been kicked into high gear. (Perhaps I am just noticing it more this week since it is after Thanksgiving). There have been Christmas Markets, Christmas Music, Christmas Carols and all sorts of other festive things. The Centre itself is changed in the exhibition. There are red Virginia's collection of Pride and Prejudice editionsboards talking about Christmas in Jane Austen’s novels, from Emma to Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. It must have been a lovely time of year for the Austen’s with family coming to visit and the houses full of people and spirit. It makes me miss my family a little in this Christmas season and though I will see them very soon, I was sad to not be with them for Thanksgiving. Nothing means Christmas to me more than family and it seems like that what Christmas meant to Jane as well. People coming to stay and visit seems to be what Christmas focused on, like the Gardiners coming to visit the Bennets in Pride and Prejudice, Emma going to the Christmas Eve party and the very loud Musgrove children at Christmas. The decorations at the Centre have been lovely for Christmas. There are holly, wreaths, berries, and every other kind of greenery. The story of the first Christmas tree is also in the exhibition. It has really become a festive time of year and I have even started buying presents! (Because I want to prove that I have bought things other than copies of Pride and Prejudice… I have 25 that I got in England now!!)

Virginia Claire Tharrington and her Jane Austen classmates (2008)

Virginia and her Jane Austen classmates

For our final Jane Austen class we talked about the second half of Persuasion and focused on the changed ending. I think the alternate ending is to die for and that she made the right decision to change it. Persuasion is one of my favorite novels it was great to end with it because it because it is a wonderful Bath novel!  The last part of class though we had a little party. Felicity made little cakes, like ones Jane herself might have eaten, and we did charades and learned about Bullet Pudding. If you don’t know what Bullet Pudding is here is a part of a letter from Jane’s niece Fanny in 1804 explaining it.

“I was surprised to hear that you did not know what a Bullet Pudding is, but as you don’t I will endeavour to describe it as follows: You must have a large pewter dish filled with flour which you must pile up into a sort of pudding with a peek at top. You must then lay a bullet at top and everybody cuts a slice of it, and the person that is cutting it when it falls must poke about with their noses and chins till they find it and then take it out with their mouths of which makes them strange figures all covered with flour but the worst is that you must not laugh for fear of the flour getting up your nose and mouth and choking you: You must not use your hands in taking the Bullet out.” (letter Godmersham Park, 17 January 1804)

Now I don’t know about everyone else, but I can see Jane Austen playing Bullet Pudding and having a blast at it. It seems as if the Austen’s might have been a jolly bunch at Christmas time. Perhaps I will convince my family to try it this year.

Virginia Claire Tharrington and her Jane Austen class instructor Felicity James (2008)

Virginia and her Jane Austen class instructor Felicity James

After Jane Austen class and working at the Centre my time this week has been FOCUSED on my dissertation which is due on Tuesday. It is coming along nicely and I have already gone over the minimum word count so I am not worried about that aspect of it at all, I just want to make sure it is the best piece of work I can put forth. My paper itself is on Jane Austen Adaptations and the agenda that each of the films take with Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park. I have been very interested in my paper because I have very decided opinions about many adaptations so this has been a way for me to express my frustrations and delights for many of the older and newer movies and miniseries.

As my time in Bath is coming to an end I cannot help but start to think about everything that has happened and how much I have learned from this experience. It has truly been a dream come true!

The Jane Austen Centre logoTill next week then!

Virginia Claire Tharrington

Intern, the Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England

Read all of Virginia’s previous reports in the Austen Intern Archives

An Austen Intern Reports in from The Jane Austen Centre: Week 13

Virginia Claire and Buck Tharrington, Bath, England (2008)

Virginia Claire and brother Buck Tharrington at the Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England

The advenure continues as intern Virginia Claire Tharrington reports in on her experience at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England.

A Brother Comes and learns about Jane

My brother Buck came this week to visit me in Bath with our family friend Matt. It was so wonderful to see them and show them around Bath. On Monday they came to the Jane Austen Centre to see me and hear my introductory talk. It went over very well. We did not have many people which was probably good because it was not my best talk. Every time I looked at my brother he was either pretending to be asleep on Matt’s shoulder, or covering is mouth with his guide so I could not see him busting out laughing. Needless to say, it was a little distracting but I just stopped looking at him and got it done. The boys did say I did do a good job which was nice of them considering I know they are not that interested in Jane Austen… but they should be. Matt is reading Pride and Prejudice in class so I have been talking to him about that which was cool.

The Royal Crescent, Bath England taken by Bryan26 at Flickr

The Royal Crescent, Bath, England*

I also took the boys on a semi Jane Austen walking tour which they ended up enjoying more than I thought they would. We started at the Royal Crescent, then walked the gravel walk like in Persuasion, after that we took a picture with Martin at the Jane Austen Centre.

Buck, Martin & Matt at the Jane Austen Centre, Bath (2008)

Buck, Martin & Matt at the Jane Austen Centre

Virginia visiting Jane Austen's home at 4 Sydney Place, Bath (2008)

Virginia visiting Jane Austen’s former home at 4 Sydney Place, Bath

We then walked across town to see Jane Austen’s house at 4 Sydney Place and to look in the Pump Rooms. They liked walking around and seeing all the places. I don’t know if it was because I told them that if they walk around to Jane Austen place with me that I would let them go shopping for soccer jerseys or if they were just really interested in Jane Austen in Bath. For some reason I think it might have had something to do with bribery.

Pump-room, Bath (2008)

Pump-room, Bath, England

Austen is all around Bath and I went on a Jane Austen walking tour a few weeks ago, which allowed me to show the boys all the different places. Terry from the Jane Austen Centre is in charge of all the walking tours and does a great job with them. I love Mondays because Terry always works and I always feel like I learn a lot from him. The walking tour includes the Pump Room, the Assembly Rooms, the Circus and several other places scattered around Bath. I also went to see George Austen’s grave at St. Swithin’s Church.

Virginia at St. Swithin's Church, Bath (2008)

Virginia at St. Swithin’s Church, Bath

Rev. George Austen's grave, St. Swithin's Churchyard, Bath The inscription on his grave stone reads…

“Under this stone rests the remains of

the Revd. George Austen

Rector of Steventon and Deane in Hampshire

who departed this life

the 1st. of January 1805

aged 75 years.”

Having my brother Buck here this week has been so amazing because I was able to share Bath with him and Matt. I was also very glad to show them Jane Austen’s Bath because I think it is important to show guys that Jane Austen is not just reading for girls. I hope that Buck will read Pride and Prejudice next year and that Matt will enjoy it in the next couple of weeks. We will see. Matt at least told me that he liked Elizabeth and thought Darcy was a jerk… but he isn’t through the book yet. I will be sad to see the boys go tomorrow but I might be able to get some work done after they leave. I have been working on my dissertation on Jane Austen adaptations but I need to get most of it done this next week!

The Jane Austen Centre logoTill next time! CHERRIO

Virginia Claire Tharrington

Intern, The Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England

Read Virginia’s other reports in the Austen Intern Archives

*Photo of The Royal Crescent by Bryan26 at Flickr

An Austen Intern Reports in From The Jane Austen Centre: Week 12

Mansfield Park (1999) Henry Crawford, Maria Bertram and Mr. Rushworth

The advenure continues as intern Virginia Claire Tharrington reports in on her experience at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England.

Secondary characters in Austen and in life

This week has been a slightly crazy one for me again because we have had our second round of papers due for my Jane Austen class. I have also been working on my dissertation which will focus on Jane Austen adaptations and the agenda’s that I perceive that the movies take verse what I think Jane Austen’s agenda was in writing the novels. It should be interesting and I will keep everyone posted on its developments. I think I will just be ranting in parts of it ; ) but we will see.  My paper topic for this week was on a Virginia Woolf quote saying “She wishes neither to reform nor to annihilate; she is silent, and that is terrific indeed.  One after another she creates her fools, her prigs, her worldlings…She encircles them with the lash of a whip-like phrase, which, as it runs round them, cuts out their silhouettes forever.” I took this topic and focused on secondary characters in Mansfield Park, particularly Maria and Rushworth because I enjoy them so much. She draws them both so deliberately and perfectly. Rushworth particular has some of the best line of the narrator’s scorn and yet his bride does not fair much better. Maria’s reasons for matrimony are scorned and her actions with Crawford are condoned yet she is such a wonderful character still.  Austen does shape secondary character so beautifully. With Mansfield Park it seems that its secondary characters are the most memorable at times. (Don’t get me wrong here I do like Fanny and Edmund yet I think other characters have better lines and commentaries).

Mansfield Park (2007), Maria and Mr. Rushworth

I was talking with some of the other guides at the Jane Austen Centre about these secondary characters and they too pointed out their love/disgust at people like Rushworth. One guide pointed out that the Bertrams and Rushworth’s have every advantage over Fanny in education, status and rank and yet it is Fanny who ends up the heroine. Mary Crawford I think particularly can fit into the mold of a faulty education. Many of the phrases Mary Crawford is known for are things that I feel like could come out of Elizabeth’s Bennet’s mouth (though with more propriety and obvious exceptions). Perhaps Austen is commenting on a London education and how little it could do for a girl. Perhaps Mary would have been more like Elizabeth had she been raised in the country rather than in town. But we shall never know. All I want to point out is that Mary Crawford is a lot like Elizabeth except with town thrown in.  It is interesting to think about at least.

As for more about secondary characters in Jane Austen, what about secondary characters in life? I sometimes wish that I had the delineating wit that Jane Austen had to cut so far and so fast into people. Everyone knows people like Rushworth or Maria in life… or at least people who share some of the qualities and I think it is one of the beautiful things about Austen because I seem to enjoy these people more after reading her. I think Austen’s secondary characters show, me at least, that there are reasons and people to laugh at every day. We just have to find them. Jane was severe to be sure yet sometimes severity doesn’t hurt. I am not going to publish a novel of the fools I encounter; I am just trying to make it through college sane and in one piece. I think Austen can help show us how to do this by finding those little quarks that can make us laugh and reminding us not to take ourselves too seriously. So though I do not have any Rushworth’s or Maria’s in my life I think they can remind us to look around, see the world, and laugh!

Cheerio till next week! My brother is coming to visit so the post will be about brothers and sister…. I think my brother more of the William Price type, though his correspondence is not as constant as William’s!

The Jane Austen Centre logo

Virginia Claire Tharrington

Intern, The Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England

Read the archives of An Austen Intern Reports In

NEWS FLASH! Virginia is featured in the November issue of The Jane Austen Centre newsletter. You can subscribe to receive your very own newsletter e-mailed monthly.

An Austen Intern Reports in from The Jane Austen Centre: Week 9

The advenure continues as intern Virginia Claire Tharrington reports in on her experience at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath, England.

Jane Austen goes abroad and comes back to Bath!

Last week was on mid-semester break so I was off to Amsterdam and Prague with my friends for the several days. But this week was not spent separated from Jane Austen. No, on the contrary I bring her where ever I go! So naturally I was not only reading Mansfield Park on my travels but also picking up copies of Pride and Prejudice in both Dutch and Czech. I am a collector of copies of Pride and Prejudice and though I have several copies in other languages I did not have one in Dutch or Czech. I thought it was very strange because it took me much longer to find a shop with P&P in it in Amsterdam than it did in Prague. Several of the book stores I went in Prague had the whole Austen set plus a biography while in Amsterdam it took me 3 days to find a store with just P&P. I thought it was remarkable that both copies had Keira Knightley on the cover. This was the only thing that bothered me because many people know how I dislike the newest version of P&P and that I hate that it gets referenced to the book. I guess little can be expected and that if someone sees the movies and then sees a book cover that makes them pick up and read the book then it may be ok but I cannot stand the movie taking the place of the book.

I think it is so amazing that Jane Austen is so international. She has been translated into countless languages and though I have several different languages, I know I am nowhere near the total number of translations. It is remarkable that so many people all over the world can be drawn to one English middle class woman writer who was writing about the English countryside and just a few families in it. But Jane is so much more than that I feel. She deals with timeless issues like love, family and money and I don’t know more significant themes for today’s world though we take them on very differently. Her wit is timeless as well as her irony. Though I cannot read Czech, I can tell you what, “Světem panuje skálopevné přesvědčení že svobodný muž který má slušné jmění, se neobejde bez ženušky“, means. It is one of the best lines in the literature, “It is a true universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” I guess it is universally acknowledge because this line has been translated to languages all over the world!

But now I am settled back in Bath with two new copies of Pride and Prejudice and very happy to be back at the Jane Austen Centre. I was home sick a little for the first time over break and I think that was because I was not at the Centre which feels so much like home while I am in Bath. I know it sounds cliché but the staff at the Centre is so wonderful and I enjoy being around them so much that it really feels like a little family.  Being back has been wonderful though we have been very busy because of half term in the schools. Some of my housemates have started to come to the Centre to hear my talk and take the tour, though they have all heard my talk because I practiced on them before I started giving them at the Centre. The girls really enjoyed my talk and then we went up and had a lovely snack in the tea rooms before going down to the exhibition. All and all, it has been good to be home in Bath and back at the Jane Austen Centre, though when I go abroad Jane comes with me ; ).

Cheers until next week.

Virginia Claire Tharrington

Intern, The Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England

Read Virginia’s previous reports in the Austen Intern archives

An Austen Intern Reports in from The Jane Austen Centre: Week 8

The ultimate Austen adventure continues with our featured weekly 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.

I cannot believe my time in Bath is half way over. It seems like I only arrived here yesterday yet so much has happened between my arrival and now. I sometimes feel like a very different person though I know I haven’t changed that much I feel like I have only grown. I know my love and knowledge of Jane Austen has grown which I am very thankful for. Over the past couple of weeks I have been thinking about what I will be doing when I am done with my internship and studying abroad. I will be going home for my second semester of my junior year. It seems like college has flown by so quickly as well and I don’t know where it has all gone to. While I have been in Bath I have been thinking about what I want to do with my life and though I am not much closer to figuring it out definitely, I know I want it to involve Jane Austen. As I told my Jane Austen class in our first day, I cannot imagine my life without Jane. They all laughed and I do too looking back on the statement but then again… who or what would I be without Jane Austen, I am sure I do not know… although I know I would not be half so smart or witty without her  ; ). Of course there is a little tongue and cheek here but I really do think that Jane Austen has greatly impacted my life… she did bring me to Bath after all and that has done enough already.  Perhaps I will teach when I get done with school or perhaps I will go on to grad school. Everything is so up in the air right now but I do know that Jane Austen will be in my life for many years. : )

(On a less pouring out my soul note)

I have not been at the Jane Austen Centre this week because it was half term, but I did send them postcards from Amsterdam and Prague! I will have much more news next week when I am at the Centre again but until then know that Bath is beautiful but yet a little rainy and that everything is going well!

Cheers till next weekend!

Virginia Claire Tharrington

Intern, The Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England

Read Virginia’s previous reports in the Austen Intern archives

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: Catherine Morland’s Experience in Bath Part 3


if adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village,
she must seek them abroad

Lower Assembly Rooms and Bath Society

at Jane Austen’s World 

Discover the Lower Rooms in Bath where Catherine Morland the heroine of Northanger Abbey is introduced by the Master of Ceremonies James King to “a very gentlemanlike young man” Henry Tilney and he engages her for her first dance in Bath. Learn all about the history of the Lower Rooms and the social etiquette that they were governed under in Ms. Place’s (Vic) excellent blog on The Lower Rooms and Bath Society at her lovely blog, Jane Austen’s World. Please join us next week when she writes about the delights of walking with Eleanor and Henry Tilney on Beechen Hill. Thanks Vic!

An Austen Intern Reports in From The Jane Austen Centre: Week 7

The ultimate Austen adventure continues with our featured weekly 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.

This week has been another kind of quite one at the Jane Austen Centre. I have continued to give talks and work in the gift shop. The one major accomplishment of the week came yesterday when I gave my first talk without any notes. I wish I could say I decided to not take my notes up or that I had them with me and just found myself to not need them but neither are true. I had forgotten them so I was kinda forced to either give a talk or stand in front of a group of people and just stare at them. I choose to do the first as one would imagine and it went off very well. I found that my talk began to flow very easily from me and though I still struggle with a few transitions I have found it to be going much better. This week my study abroad coordinator from Meredith College was also visiting Bath because she and her husband have a house here so they came to hear my talk which I was very excited for them to hear because I wanted someone from home to know exactly what I have been up to these last six weeks. I do not think she was disappointed in the least with my talk and in fact she said that she pitied my Jane Austen teacher next semester because I would know so much.  I do feel like my knowledge of Jane Austen has grown and strengthened while I have been here. I think my knowledge of Austen has become more focused on her life and her time in Bath especially! She is a fascinating person no matter how you study her but I think by looking at her family and her letters you start to get a fuller picture of Jane.

The other project that I have been doing this week was to take a survey about how people found out about the Centre and to see if they were enjoying the tea rooms. The tea rooms were getting rave reviews with an average score or about 9 or so which I thought was very good. The tea rooms are a lovely spot. Jackie, Andrew and I were up there for my interview when I first started and it was lovely. I have not worked in them as some interns have but that is probably for the best of the tea rooms. I doubt I am the best waitress and I know I am not a good tea maker unless tea bags are included. I have enjoyed being up there though for events during the festival or a hen party that I worked at (a hen party is a mix between a bridal shower and a bachelorette party depending on the bride). The fun thing about the tea rooms is that they are run by a really nice girl named Sarah and the fact they have fun things like Darcy Millionaire shortbread cake and such. I think it just makes the Centre a little more special if you take tea there as well. I have been meaning to take tea up there but I feel bad skipping out on working to go have tea upstairs and I haven’t had my friends come visit me yet but when they come I will defiantly be taking them to our lovely regency tea rooms.

Cheers till next weekend! I am off to Amsterdam and Prague this next week for break and I don’t know how much Jane Austen I will be studying except reading Mansfield Park for class but perhaps I may pick up a couple copies of Pride and Prejudice for my collection.

Cheers until next week,

Virginia Claire Tharrington

Intern, The Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England

Northanger Abbey Chapters 11-14: Summary, Musings & Discussion

At half past twelve, when Catherine’s anxious attention to the weather was over and she could no longer claim any merit from its amendment, the sky began voluntarily to clear. A gleam of sunshine took her quite by surprise; she looked round; the clouds were parting, and she instantly returned to the window to watch over and encourage the happy appearance. Ten minutes more made it certain that a bright afternoon would succeed, and justified the opinion of Mrs. Allen, who had “always thought it would clear up.” The Narrator, Chapter 11 

Quick Synopsis 

Catherine anticipates her walk with the Tilney’s but is concerned because of the rainy weather. John and Isabella Thorpe and her brother James arrive and insist that she ride out with them to Blaize Castle in their carriages. She declines because of the Tilney’s invitation, but Thorpe assures her they are not coming for her and she departs only to discover that he has lied as she passes them on the street. He will not stop. The scheme to travel to the Castle is too ambitious and they turn back after an hour. Catherine is miffed all around. The next morning she goes to the Tilney residence to apologize and is turned away. That night at the theatre she meets Mr. Tilney and apologizes. He assures her that they will walk another day. She notices John Thorpe talking to General Tilney. The evening ends well. The next day, Isabella, James and John insist that Catherine ride out with them to Blaize Castle again. She firmly declines because of her engagement with the Tilney’s. They insist and badger her. Thorpe goes to Miss Tilney claiming that Catherine has sent him to change the date. She agrees and Thorpe informs the party of his success. Catherine is horrified and wants to tell Eleanor it is not true. They try to restrain her, but she struggles and is let free to go to the Tilney’s and explain. She is introduced to General Tilney. The next morning the weather is fair, and Catherine walks with the Tilney’s as planned. They discuss books, history, politics and Henry instructs Catherine on the Picturesque and teases them on what nature has given to women.


Temptation and judgment are key factors in the next four chapters. We see our heroine Catherine tested on many fronts in social situations, and called upon to evaluate and decided for herself which are the best decisions for her happiness. The first test comes with her friends Isabella and John Thorpe, and her brother James when she is pressured to put aside her commitment to walk with the Tilney’s at the prospect of seeing an ancient castle like the ones she has read about in the Gothic novels that she admires so much. “I should like to see the castle; but may we go all over it? May we go up every staircase, and into every suite of rooms?”  The temptation to see such a fanciful place outweighs her concern of offending the Tilney’s and she is persuaded to go on the drive, only to discover that she has been lied to by John Thorpe regarding his seeing Henry Tilney with another young lady before he arrived. When she passes the Tilney’s on the street she understands the deception, and she begs Thorpe to stop.

“Pray, pray stop, Mr. Thorpe. I cannot go on. I will not go on. I must go back to Miss Tilney.” But Mr. Thorpe only laughed, smacked his whip, encouraged his horse, made odd noises, and drove on; and Catherine, angry and vexed as she was, having no power of getting away, was obliged to give up the point and submit. Catherine Morland, Chapter 11

It is a painful and frustrating lesson to learn, but she understands the consequences of slighting the Tilney’s whose friendship she values opposed to the immediate pleasure of an excursion in the country with friends whose judgment and methods she doubts. When the drive is cut short after an hour because of the eventual reality that they can not make it to the Castle in the time they have, she sees that putting herself under the power of such people is foolish and regrets her actions.

The second test comes when she immediately needs to find Miss Tilney and explain why she did not keep their date to walk. When she arrives at her door, the footman tells her that Miss Tilney is not at home and she departs dejected, only to look back and see her leaving her home with her father. Catherine feels slighted and ashamed. Later that evening she finally meets Henry Tilney at the theatre, aplogizes and learns that it was their father’s doing,  he did not want to be delayed in his walk. But another lesson had been learned. Do not over react in the heat of the moment. Things are not always what they seem and every consideration should be given to cool judgment. The evening ends most agreeably after her chat with Mr. Tilney, his confirmation of another walk, and a complement by his father, General Tilney.

That General Tilney, instead of disliking, should admire her, was very delightful; and she joyfully thought that there was not one of the family whom she need now fear to meet. The evening had done more, much more, for her than could have been expected. The Narrator, Chapter 12

Austen seems to follow good news with bad quite swiftly, as our heroine in high spirits after meeting with Miss Tilney the next day and confirming their walk, is assaulted by her friends for accepting the invitation which interferes with their desire for Catherine to drive out with them to Blaize Castle, again. Even though she firmly declines their invitation determined not to allow their plans to spoil another engagement with the Tilney’s, they will not accept her decision and press her to change the date. I am amazed at the length that they go to pressure her as Isabella shames her and cries, her brother James calls her quite unkind and selfish and John Thorpe approaches Miss Tilney under the guise of Catherine’s authority requesting a change of date. Catherine is horrified at their behavior, firm in her resolve and I applaud her new found confidence.

She had not been withstanding them on selfish principles alone, she had not consulted merely her own gratification; that might have been ensured in some degree by the excursion itself, by seeing Blaize Castle; no, she had attended to what was due to others, and to her own character in their opinion. Her conviction of being right, however, was not enough to restore her composure; till she had spoken to Miss Tilney she could not be at ease; The Narrator, Chapter 13 

Score one for Miss Morland. A difficult situation that she handled to our relief and her satisfaction. Peer pressure can be the worst form of friendship, if one can call such action friendship. She has made a good decision for herself and her walk to Beechen Cliff with the Tilney’s proves a much more worthy excursion as she sees, experiences, and learns so much more than with the society of the Thorpe’s. After being taken down so low by the Thorpe’s ill manners, walking with Eleanor and Henry Tilney is the height of perfection in good views of countryside, witty banter, and educated conversation. There are so many excellent dialogue passages in this chapter that one is hard pressed to narrow them down. We begin to see Henry and Eleanor’s sibling relationship more closely as he teases her and she him, playing off each other to amuse Catherine and themselves. By the end of the chapter he has undoubtedly the charming, clever and witty man that we and Catherine had suspected. He loves Gothic fiction, though Catherine is concerned to discuss it with a man, his Oxford education has not ruined his sense of the sublime in nature which he shares with Catherine in his description of the picturesque countryside, he talks eloquently of history, politics and art with ease, and knows when to complement and please.

“Miss Morland, I think very highly of the understanding of all the women in the world – especially of those – whoever they may be – with whom I happen to be in company.” 

“That is not enough. Be more serious.” 

“Miss Morland, no one can think more highly of the understanding of women than I do. In my opinion, nature has given them so much that they never find it necessary to use more than half.” Henry and Eleanor Tilney, Chapter 14

And that gentle readers is quite a man.

  • Online text of Northanger Abbey complements of Molland’s Circulating-library
  • Group reading schedule
  • Summary of Northanger Abbey chapter 8-14
  • Quotes and quips from Northanger Abbey chapters 8-14

Go Gothic with Northanger Abbey: DAY 8 Giveaway

Jane Austen in Bath: Walking Tours of the Writer’s City (2006)

By Katharine Reeve

Leave a comment by October 30th to qualify for the free drawing on October 31st for one copy of Jane Austen in Bath: Walking Tours of the Writer’s City, by Katharine Reeve (US residents only)

Upcoming event posts
Day 09 – Oct 15           Guest Blog – Kali Pappas
Day 10 – Oct 16           Group Read NA Chapters 15-17
Day 11 – Oct 19          Book Review – NA Naxos Audio
Day 12 – Oct 20          Guest Blog – Valancourt Books

© 2008 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

An Austen Intern Reports in from The Jane Austen Centre: Week 6

Virginia Claire Tharrington with friends at Lyme Regis (2008)

The ultimate Austen adventure continues with our featured weekly 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.

Off to Lyme Regis…

This past weekend one of my house mates and I went to Lyme Regis. Jane Austen visited the town with her parents in 1804 and part of her beloved novel Persuasion is based in it. Lyme was such a wonderful picturesque fishing village we really enjoyed a nice weekend there. Getting to Lyme was not easy though because my friends and I took the wrong train and such which made us very late to check in, but our bed and breakfast was lovely.

Virginia & friends on the Granny Teeth steps on the Cobb, Lyme Regis

We got up on Saturday morning to good weather so we headed out to see the Cobb. This was the highlight of the trip for me because I got to walk along the top like they did in Persuasion. We loved going to the Cobb and walking though we almost got blown off the top. I can see why the women in Persuasion could not walk all the way out because it was to windy so they had to go down the stairs and that’s when Louisa’s spill took place. We also went to the aquarium that was run by this lovely old fisherman. I am pretty sure that he had just put fish that he caught in tanks and called it an aquarium, but he did have some nice pictures and stories of the filming of Persuasion. We took so many pictures on the 3 sets of stairs on the Cobb because in each version of the movie Persuasion they use a different set of stairs. I thought it was interesting that there is no real answer to what stairs Jane Austen was talking about. But I personally think the Granny Teeth steps were the ones that Jane might have been thinking of when writing.

View of Lyme Regis harbour from the park

We then went to the Jane Austen Gardens which were lovely. I had a copy of Persuasion with me so I of course had to read the Lyme section while I was in Lyme and in the park. We loved wondering through the gardens which had a wonderful view of the Cobb and the sea. We had a wonderful rest of the day walking around shopping in Lyme. The weather got a little rainy around tea time so my friends and I went back to our bed and breakfast and watched the 1980’s Pride and Prejudice which is my favorite because we were talking about Pride and Prejudice adaptations in Jane Austen class last week. They really enjoyed that version as well but don’t think it helped that I was reciting the lines with the movies.

Virginia at the The Jane Austen Gardens, Lyme Regis

This week at the Jane Austen Centre has been wonderful as well. I have been doing a lot more guiding which I think is really helping my confidence with public speaking. The people at the Centre are who make it so fantastic. I will be doing a survey tomorrow at the Centre and possibly dressing in Regency attire with a guy from my house. We will have to see if I can convince him to dress up with me.

My Jane Austen class is also going very well. We just finished Pride and Prejudice and now starting Mansfield Park which is nice since I haven’t studied it yet in class. We studied Northanger Abbey which was neat because since I live in Bath I pass Milson Street, the pump rooms and many other places that the novel mentions which really bring it to life.

Cheers till next week!

Virginia Claire Tharrington

Intern, The Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England

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