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 10

Virgina Claire Tharrington and her Austen class group at Chawton (2008)

Virginia Claire Tharrington (center) visiting Chawton Cottage (2008)

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

First Trip Home (trip to Chawton)

Friday I saw one of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen. My Jane Austen class went on our study trip to Winchester and Chawton. It was amazing and one of the best days of my entire time here.

Virginia Claire Tharrington at College Street home of Jane Austen, Winchester (2008)

Virginia in front of Jane Austen’s last home on College Street, Winchester

We started out at the house on College Street in Winchester where Jane Austen spent her last days and died in Cassandra’s arms. Though we did not get to go inside the house because it is in private hands it was interesting to see this house that she spent her last months in. Cassandra had brought Jane to Winchester in 1817 to seek medical care but the doctors could barely help with the pain much less with the real problem (which is now believed to be Addison’s disease). The house is a simple building but it is beside the College and Jane’s bedroom is supposed to have overlooked the headmaster’s garden.

Virginia Claire Tharrington visiting Jane Austen's grave at Winchester Cathedral (2008)

Virginia at the graveside of Jane Austen at Winchester Cathedral

After this we went to Winchester Cathedral to see her grave. I thought it was very interesting that only 4 people attended her funeral, 3 brothers and a nephew. Cassandra did not attend her beloved sister’s funeral because in that time it was not customary for women to attend. This struck me as very sad because the sisters were so close and loving. Jane Austen’s grave was very interesting as well because though it is a loving memorial it does not mention anything about her being a writer. It is not till later many years after her death that the plaque was added that says Jane Austen was a famous writer. We stopped at her grave and I was very touched by it if only because it is sort of ironic that at her death she was only known as a parson’s daughter but yet she was buried in one of the largest churches in England. But now her fame has risen to the height that she is the most visited person in the church. We later saw Mrs. Austen and Cassandra’s grave at the little Church at Chawton and thought I think she would better fit there; I think she would be amused at the fact that she is so popular now.  Winchester was a lovely town but I was very excited to move on to see Chawton Cottage and Manor House.

Virginia Claire Tharrington visiting Jane Austen's desk at Chawton Cottage, Hampshire (2008)

Virginia visiting Jane’s desk at Chawton Cottage, Hampshire

Chawton Cottage was a lovely house though it was much bigger than we had expected. I was most excited to see the little table where Jane had written her letter. I did get to see this and I even touched (though you are not suppose to). It was amazing to see this little table on which she rewrote or composed some of the world’s greatest novels. I thought it was also interesting that Jane and Cassandra shared a room while they were at Chawton though there were 6 bedrooms. I would like to believe that these beloved sisters took so much enjoyment from one another that they could not be parted and I suspect that some of their best times were at night when it was just the two of them.  The house is most wonderful and that I am so glad we got to see it.

Virginia Claire Tharrington in front of Chawton Manor House (2008)

Virginia in front of Chawton Manor, Hampshire

Chawton Manor was our next and last stop. Chawton Manor was owned by Jane Austen’s brother Edward and it was passed down until it fell into disrepair after WWI. We went to see the library which has been started by an America member of JASNA. It is a fantastic library of early women writers. We saw first editions of Cecilia which is where Jane Austen could have gotten the title for Pride and Prejudice. It was a wonderful resource and I hope to one day to go back and research there.

This trip has been so wonderful. It has really been a dream come true. To see where Jane wrote and loved so dearly. I can see why she was so eager to leave Bath and go back to the country.  It felt almost as if I was going home, well maybe not to my home but to Jane’s which is just as good! : )

The Jane Austen Centre logoCheers 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

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

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

An Austen Intern Reports in From The Jane Austen Centre: Week 5

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 so wonderful in Bath. Other than having a full day of rain on Tuesday the weather has been delightful. This week at the Jane Austen Centre I started again to give the talks at the Centre which has been wonderful. The tour begins with a introductory talk in which a member of staff tells you about Jane Austen, her writings, her life and her time while she was in Bath. I was very nervous to begin to give these talks but it has gotten so much easier since I started. I have now given about eight and I feel like with each one I give it gets a little bit easier and I become a little more comfortable. I am not a very good public speaker by any means but I knew that if there was one subject that I could talk about for fifteen minutes it would be Jane Austen. I have learned so much by giving these talks as well because though we are given a rough sketch of what needs to be said, it is up to the individual guide to decided exactly what to say. I will not bore you with everything that I say : ) (you can come to the Jane Austen Centre to hear that! haha) but I will say that each time I feel like my talk becomes more natural and I have to look at my notes less.

I have also been working a lot in the giftshop for the Centre which is lovely because I get to work with the wonderful staff. I love spending time getting to know everyone as the staff has a wealth of knowledge and I love picking their brains about everything from life in Bath to Jane Austen and movie adaptations. There is always something new to look at in the shop and for some reason I feel like I need as much Jane Austen stuff as I can get. My poor house mates have Darcy posters in our living room along with an entire mantle coved in Jane Austen postcards, pictures and magazines. They have now started to be able to laugh at it and have accepted that they are living with a Jane Austen fanatic. While we were watching Sense and Sensibility in our living room this week, some of the guys walked in talking during the Elinor and Edward proposal scene and the five girls who were all watching it got very mad at them for interupting!

Bath has been lovely though in every way and it is truly a dream come true to be here and working at the Centre. I am not sure what I anticipated coming to Bath but it has defiantly exceeded my wildest expectations! I am off to Lyme Regis for the weekend with some girls from my house, so perhaps I will meet Captain Wentworth or Anne Elliot while I am there. If not I will still not leap from the stairs on the cob but I will take picture.

Cheers from England!

Virginia Claire Tharrington

Intern, The Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England

An Austen Intern Reports In From The Jane Austen Centre: Week 4

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 so crazy. I spent the week in Oxford with my Advanced Studies in England program and stayed at University College which was amazing. The only downfall was that I was away from Bath during The Jane Austen Festival. Before I left, I did attend the promenade last Saturday and it was incredible. I got to dress up in full regency attire. I wore a flower dress with green and yellow flowers and an olive spenser.  Everyone from the Jane Austen Centre got dressed up as well and then we met at Bath Abbey. In addition to the Centre staff, naval and militia officers, there were more than 150 people promenading through a planned route. John White and Martin lead the procession and we were quite the spectacle. It was a lovely walk around Bath. We walked down Milson Street just like Catherine Morland would have done and up to Edgars Buildings where Isabella Thrope lived. Then we walked to the Circus where Admiral Croft took lodgings in Persuasion. While we were at the Circus we had some entertainment before moving on to the Royal Crescent. After the Royal Crescent we walked down the gravel walk just as Anne and Captain Wentworth did. After the group photo we moved on to Queen’s Square where we had a country fair. Jackie Herring the Centre’s director worked so hard on the fair and it went off beautifully. There were several venders selling everything from bonnets to military paraphernalia. There were many people at the fair from the community or who had just seen us promenading around the city.

Admiral Croft strolls the Promenade, The Jane Austen Festival (2008)

The Promenade at The Jane Austen Festival, Bath, England (2008)

Lace and finerie on the Promenade, The Jane Austen Festival, Bath, England (2008)

One of my favorite parts of the day was getting to see everyone’s costumes and dresses. I was so impressed with many of the people who made their dresses. Many people also came from all over the world to attend the Festival. I have met several people from America and continental Europe. The BBC was also filming the festival for their show Countryfile. I can’t wait to see it when it comes on television in a few weeks.

A red coated Militia man ready for duty. Lydia Bennet would swoon!

Everyone in the Centre has been working so hard for the festival and I think it has been going beautiful.  Friday after I got back from Oxford and seeing Blenheim Palace I went to the Jane Austen Centre for an evening party. Everyone sat down to eat, play Loo, whist and other games popular in Regency times. We got to dress in Regency attire again. It was a lovely party and it made me very sad to think that most of the festival almost over.  Luckily I get to help with the rest of the weekend so I hope to keep everyone up to date on the goings on of the festival and the Jane Austen Centre.

Signing off until next week,

Virginia Claire Tharrington

Intern, The Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England

These stunning photos were generously provided by Owen Benson, who should consider a career as a professional photographer. View his Flickr gallery here.

An Austen Intern Reports in From The Jane Austen Centre: Week 3

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 amazing even if I haven’t been feeling that great.  Tonight was the opening party at The Jane Austen Centre for The Jane Austen Festival September 19th-28th, and we all had such a lovely time. I met several people from the US who had come all the way for the festival. I have been working in the shop for most of the week but I did start guiding this week as well. I am so honored to be the intern at the centre I always leave in such a good mood because of the wonderful people who work at the centre and the fact that I get to talk about Jane Austen all day!

Tonight the festival opening party was lovely. There were several wonderful costumes along with some very interesting characters. I was not feeling my best tonight but being at the party lifted my spirits. I meet several people from the state and from around England and Denmark. There was one lady named Tracy who is writing a novel and she had been traveling around England searching for Pemberley. I was very intrigued by her and she seemed to have had a wonderful time up in Derbyshire.  I am hoping to get to go to see Derbyshire and especially Lyme Park which is where the 1995 Pride and Prejudice was filmed. Martin and I started the night greeting at the door but when we came up stairs I really began to enjoy the party. It was so exciting to see all the pictures from the Promenade last year and I am so thankful that I at least get to do that because I will be missing most of the festival because my study abroad group is going to Oxford for the week.

The Regency Promenade is tomorrow and Jackie Herring has been working so hard on the Queen Square Fair that we will end at. I am so excited to be dressing up again with all of the girls from the Centre. We will be walking through much of Bath and from what I understand we will be a spectacle. I am very excited to see all the soldiers and navy officers which will be joining all the ladies on our walk. It is always exciting to see gentlemen in waistcoats and tales.

I started giving my introductory talk this weeks and I am so glad to have it under my belt. I felt so good about it and I am just glad that the first couple are over because they seem to come more naturally. Hopefully this will improve my ability to speak in front of crowds because I still get a little scared about it sometimes. I think my first talk went ok but the next two I felt much better about. I believe if there is one thing I can talk about for 15 minutes it is Jane Austen. I have no problem conversing with everyone in the shop about her so the next step was to start giving the talks.

I have had a wonderful week at the centre even if my week has been plagued with illness and stress. We leave for Oxford tomorrow for the week and I will have to travel there by myself since I have the Promenade and everything. I will have plenty of pictures next time of the Promenade!

Cheers from England and the Jane Austen Centre!

Virginia Claire Tharrington

Intern, The Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England

An Austen Intern Reports In from The Jane Austen Center: Week 2

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

My first couple of weeks in Bath have been so wonderful. I feel much like Catherine Morland did when she arrived in Bath saying “Oh, who can ever be tired of Bath“. Bath so far has treated me much like it did Catherine. The Jane Austen Centre has been a highlight of my time here in Bath. Everyone at the Centre has been so nice and encouraging to me. I hope to be giving tours in the next week or two. The introductory talk which starts everyone’s tour of the exhibition at the Centre is giving by a member of staff. One of my goals is to be able to start giving this talk very soon about Jane Austen’s life, family, works and time here in Bath.  The Centre has been a wonderful place for me to go each week to learn more about Jane Austen and to meet all the wonderful people who work there.

It is wild to be living in a city where Jane Austen lived and wrote about in several of her novels. I walk through the Circus and down Milson Street everyday on my way to class. (The Circus is where Admiral Croft was supposed to have taken lodgings). I live right behind the Royal Crescent and I pass many other places that she mentions in her works. I cannot even express the awe I feel sometimes when walking through the city of Bath. It is truly a beautiful place and magical even if you are not a Jane Austen fanatic.

I am very fortunate to not only be working as a Jane Austen intern but also to be taking a Jane Austen class. We are studying Northanger Abbey right now but I have loved being able to study Jane in the place where she was writing about. Last Wednesday my Jane Austen class went on a walking tour of the city, to hit some of the highlights that Jane talks about in Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. One of the best places to see was the Upper Assembly rooms. It was fun to try and imagine the room packed for a Regency ball that perhaps Catherine, Anne or Jane herself would attend.

Last night I was fortunate enough to be able to dress in Regency costume and help with the cocktail party for the re-launch of the Jane Austen Regency World Magazine. I had a wonderful evening with many of the staff from the Centre. The magazine was bought by a local businessman who with the help of Sue Hughes the editor has revamped the magazine to a new, smaller, sleeker looking style. I cannot wait to see how the next couple of issues look because I know they will be great. The party was lovely and it was very fun to dress up and greet everyone coming in.

Bath has exceeded my expectations in every way and I am not sure if I will ever want to leave it.

Cheers till next week!

Virginia Claire Tharrington

Intern, The Jane Austen Centre, Bath, England

An Austen Intern Reports In from The Jane Austen Centre: Week 1

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

The Austen Tattler: News & Gossip on the Blogosphere

“All that she wants is gossip, and she only likes me now because I supply it.”
Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31

Around the blogosphere for the week of September 1st

The first reviews for Jane Odiwe’s Lydia Bennet’s Story are in, and honestly not a suprise!

Austen-esque author Marsha Altman is featured at Jane Austen Today and Jane Austen in Vermont discussing her new book The Darcys and the Bingleys published by Sourcebooks, and now available at bookstores.

If you are as excited as I am about the premiere of the movie Duchess, staring Austen actress Keira Knightley (Pride and Prejudice 2005), check out The Duchess of Devonshire’s Gossip Guide to the 18th-century. This informative and slightly sardonic blog is like a gossip rag from the 18th-century but with a modern twist. I particularly enjoy the Tart of the Week posts, and the recent Hunk alert on Richard Brimsley Sheridan written as a hip singles ad. Jane Austen would have been amused!

Some people understand what makes a Jane Austen heroine tick, they just don’t want to be one! And then, a few days later they change their mind!

Austen-esque author Diana Birchall is interviewed about her two books currently in print, Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma and Mrs. Elton in America by Vic (Ms. Place) at Jane Austen’s World. Discover what makes Diana one of the most admired sequel authors in print, and where she got her wicked sense of humor from.

Join the Jane Austen Book Club Online as they read a novel a month. September is Emma month, so break out your copies and delve in to Highbury again!

Lost in Austen, the new time travel inspired slant on Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice was televised in the UK on September 3rd. The advance reviews have been mixed, to put it kindly. AustenBlog has all the scoop and updates, so check it out.

Do you know the 7 key elements to Jane Austen’s writing success? Romance writer Tina M. Russo does and explains it all for us in her clever an insightful post, What Would Jane Do?, at The Seekers blog. Enter a comment for a chance to win a copy of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict or The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen.

The Becoming Jane Fansite chose one of my favorite quotes from Emma for their quote of the week.

Austenprose is happy to announce a new weekly column entitled ‘An Austen Intern Reports In’ running on Saturdays until December from Virginia Claire Tharrington, the newly appointed intern for The Jane Austen Centre in Bath. This very lucky young Janeite will be sharing with us her weekly news and insights from Bath, England, the heart of Jane Austen’s world and the home of The Jane Austen Centre. Please return on Staurday, September 6th for her first installment as she shares with us how she turned her passion for Jane Austen into a once in a life time opportunity. Stay tuned for this very exciting Austen adventure. Woundn’t Catherine Morland be jealous?

Cheers to all, Laurel Ann

*Watercolour engraving by Thomas Rowlandson, Jealousy, The Rival (1787)