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.