Happy Birthday, Jane!

This Saturday, December 16th, we wish Jane Austen a very happy birthday! Austen fans and groups around the globe will unite this weekend to celebrate our favorite author, her incredible life, and the novels she wrote.

Here are a few ways you can join in the fun!

Design: Rachel Dodge; Image: James Edward Austen-Leigh, Memoir of Jane Austen, London 1870, Wikimedia Commons.

Schedule a Jane-a-Thon

When is the last time you took a full day off to read Jane Austen’s beloved novels? I can’t imagine a better way to honor her life and celebrate her birthday!

My daughter schedules 24-hour read-alongs with her best friend whenever she has a break from school. I could never handle 24 hours of reading without falling asleep (ah, to be young!), but when I watch them gather their snacks, make their reading schedule, and read around the clock together for a full 24 hours, I always find it inspiring. Don’t you?

Schedules permitting, perhaps you might block off a day or half a day and devote yourself to a Jane-a-thon! Can you imagine spending the whole day with your nose in a Jane Austen novel (or two)?

You might also take a tour of her novels: You could read your favorite portions of each novel, read all the opening chapters and compare Austen’s style in each, or read all of the final chapters and see which one is most satisfying.

Photo: Rachel Dodge

Watch the Films

Another favorite way to celebrate Austen is to have a movie marathon. You can do this alone or with a friend (or a group of friends)! If you want to do a true marathon, you can try to cover all six novels in a day or pick one novel and watch several versions to compare them.

I personally love to turn on the 6-hour, BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (1995) and get some of my Christmas projects done! It’s the prefect movie to watch while you wrap gifts, stuff Christmas cards, bake cookies, or work on other projects.

Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice (1995).

Eat Good Food!

Whether you’re reading Austen’s novels, watching the movie adaptations, or honoring Jane in other creative ways, you must buy or make a few treats to eat in honor of Jane. A traditional English tea can be prepared with homemade or store bought cakes, scones, sandwiches, or other tasty treats.

Truly adventurous bakers might try their hand at traditional Regency baked goods. There are many recipes online, in the many Jane Austen cookbooks that have been published over the years, and in several tea time books devoted to Jane Austen. Here is one of my favorites!

Photo: Rachel Dodge; Tea with Jane Austen, Kim Wilson

You might even try your hand at making a sponge cake in honor of Jane!

You know how interesting the purchase of a sponge-cake is to me.Jane Austen, Godmersham: Wednesday (June 15), Letter to Cassandra

A delightful Sponge-cake (Bite From the Past)

This recipe from Bite From the Past looks lovely. Angela Hursh provides helpful step-by-step instructions for making the recipe for Jane Austen’s Sponge Cake from Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends by Laura Boyle (now out of print).

Join the Party!

If you really want to go all-out, Jane Austen’s Virtual Birthday Party, hosted by Jane Austen’s House Museum, is a much-loved annual tradition. If you’ve never joined the party online, there is room for everyone! Jane’s birthday falls on Saturday this year, so reserve your spot and set your alarm (depending on your time zone).

Party guests will enjoy fabulous music, fascinating talks, beautiful readings, and all sorts of fun and games in the spirit of Jane Austen and her family.

Description from JAHM: “We’ll be joined by some very special guests! Enjoy a mini keynote by fabulous historian and broadcaster Lucinda Hawksley, a quick dive into Georgian prints by historian Alice Loxton, a dramatic reading by actor Rebecca Tanwen, a sneak peak into the making of the Jane Austen collection at Moorcroft Pottery, a reading by Jessica Bull from her debut novel Miss Austen Investigates, and beautiful music by pianist Laura Klein!”

Regency attire strongly encouraged!

Party Details:

Date: Saturday 16 December
Time: 8pm – 9pm (GMT)
Location: This event takes place online. Join in from the comfort of your own home!
Tickets: £10

Note: This event will be recorded so ticket holders can enjoy it at a later date if needed!

Purchase Your Ticket Here

Give a Gift

Finally, one tangible way to celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday is to consider giving a gift in her honor to Jane Austen’s House Museum. Chawton Cottage is lovely, secluded, and historic. I’ve visited the house several times, and it is an absolute treasure for Jane Austen fans. This is one simple way we can all play a part in preserving Jane Austen’s legacy both now and in the future.

The House Museum’s current Courtyard Restoration Appeal is designed to help raise funds toward repairing and restoring the roofs of the courtyard buildings, including the Bakehouse, cellars, offices, store rooms, and privy! You can find out more here.

Photo: Courtesy of Jane Austen’s House Museum

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

Wherever your plans take you this weekend, I hope you’ll join me and everyone here at Jane Austen’s World in honoring and celebrating our Jane on her birthday. She has given us so much, and we all love her tremendously.

RACHEL DODGE teaches college English classes, gives talks at libraries, teas, and book clubs, and writes for Jane Austen’s World blog. She is the bestselling author of The Little Women DevotionalThe Anne of Green Gables Devotional and Praying with Jane: 31 Days Through the Prayers of Jane Austen. Now Available: The Secret Garden Devotional! You can visit Rachel online at www.RachelDodge.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *