Tuesday, December 16, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JANE AUSTEN!


Jane Austen, by far my favourite author, was born on this day in 1775, in Steventon, Hampshire, England. She was the daughter of the Steventon rector, Rev. George Austen, and his wife, Cassandra. She was the second daughter of eight children-her sister, Cassandra, being her closest and best friend. Although some might consider it dull, I do envy her her childhood. It was simple but active-mentally and physically.


She did things women didn't ordinarily do. First of all, she never married. It was almost a necessity that women did marry for financial reasons, if nothing else. They could not inherit and did not work, other that being a governess, for instance. Secondly, she was an author who actually was paid, although very little, for her work. She wasn't blessed with great riches but never lacked companionship and intellectual stimulation. To say nothing of great needlework!


Her books are wonderful. Like Dickens, they are social commentaries. They are also written in her biting, delightful humor. She didn't spend a lot of time on physical descriptions but her personality descriptions are wonderful. I can actually see people I know in her characters.


Persuasion has long been my favourite of her books. Not too long ago I took one of those little tests to show which of her characters you most resemble. Oddly enough, I was Anne Elliot! I would have thought I would be Elizabeth Bennet. I'm more of the "speak off the top of your head" person like her. On the other hand, who wouldn't like to sail away on a ship with the long-wished for man of your dreams, knowing you "pierce his soul".


I re-read her books often. And I love her History. And how I would love to meet her and have tea and a great conversation with her.


Jane Austen died on July 18, 1817, in Winchester. She was 42 years old. She was buried in Winchester Cathedral. Interestingly enough, her own sister and mother did not attend her funeral: women did not do such things in those days. Several years ago I was privileged to visit her resting place. I spent those moments in a sort-of awe that I was finally that close to the woman who had given me so many enjoyable moments through her works. I'm planning one more trip over in a couple of years and part of that trip will be a pilgrimage to her birthplace and to Chawton and again to Winchester.


Thank you, Jane. I hope my granddaughters will come to love you as I have. I'm going to do my best! Happy Birthday.

4 comments:

Julie said...

Marion, that read so beautifully.

I'm raising my teacup full of Lady Grey tea to your heroine as we Brits do!

wakana said...

I love her books, too! My daughter almost shared her birthday with Jane - hers was yesterday ;-)

coral said...

Marian...You and I share the wonderful love for this outstanding lady ...My favourite book is Pride and Prejudice ...I studied it in English Lit while still at High School. I too have visited Winchster Cathedral...and stood quite tearful at her resting place...we also visited her home in Bath,now the Jane Austen Society Centre. We did a walking tour of Bath with the President of the society...In a couple of years we will get to Chawton ...hey I'll meet you there and we can have morning tea.

Tracey said...

How wonderful that you visited Jane's grave. I am envious!! What a wonderful post. It would make Jane smile.