Today is the 233rd anniversary of Jane Austen’s birth on the 16th of December 1775 at Steventon Rectory, Hampshire England. Break out the port wine and sponge cake.
Many regional JASNA chapters will be celebrating with gatherings & parties in her honor during the month of December. My local Puget Sound chapter was all set for the annual soirée on Sunday in Seattle until the cold weather prompted a postponement. I was greatly disappointed to have to suspend my pleasure, but glad that I did not have to drive so far in dangerous conditions. The small irony is that Jane Austen herself came into this world during a bitterly cold winter in Hampshire. Her family delayed her christening for four months until the 5th of April 1776 because of the freezing weather, so we can wait a month to celebrate in January.
In honor of her birthday I have over the past few years read one of the many excellent (sometimes creative) biographies of her life. I have just completed Jane Austen: A Life by David Nokes and thoroughly enjoyed it. Here is a short expert regarding her birth from a letter written by her father George Austen to his sister-in-law Susannah Walter.
You have doubtless been for some times in expectation of hearing from Hampshire, and perhaps wondered a little we were on our old age grown such bad reckoners but so it was for Cassy certainly expected to have been brought to bed a month ago. However, last night the time came, and without a great deal of warning, everything was soon happily over. We have now another girl, a present plaything for her sister Cassy and a future companion. She is to be Jenny…
The party continues at my co-blog Jane Austen Today as Vic (Ms. Place) and I celebrate Jane Austen’s Birthday with seven great presents to our readers – seven unabridged editions of her major novels from Naxos AudioBooks. Join in the festivities between now and December 31st by leaving a comment stating why you like reading or viewing Jane Austen and you might just be one of the seven lucky winners on January 1st. Start the New Year right with Jane Austen. There is certainly no irony in it, but I am sure we can find one in her honor.
Cheers to the incomparable Jane,
Other birthday celebrations around the blog-o-sphere
JASNA has just published Winter 2008 issue of Persuasions On-Line
Jane Austen Today
Jane Austen’s World
Jane Austen in Vermont
Lydia Bennet’s Journal
Book Club Girl
Becoming Jane Fansite
Let Them Eat Copy
Etiquette with Miss Janice
The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide
Image of Jane Austen from JASNA website