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

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