200 Years and Counting

JASNA 2011

I confess that it’s been a few days since getting back from Texas and the General Meeting for 2011 of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA). This year’s GM celebrated the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Sense & Sensibility, the first of Austen’s novels to be made available to the public. It did not do as well as the author had hoped, although it did come to the attention of some prominent individuals of the time. One of those was the ill-fated only child of the Prince Regent and Princess Caroline, the Princess Charlotte, who wrote to a friend that she very much admired and understood Marianne Dashwood, having herself a temperament very much like her.

For those new Janeites and those who have never been to a GM, it is  a total immersion into all things Jane, from the interesting talks on the taking of snuff and tying of cravats to the more scholarly investigations of the philosophy and psychology behind Austen’s characters.

The emporium’s vendors offer Regency clothes and accessories, Austen gifts and tea–yes, the lovely ladies from Bingely’s Teas were again at the Emporium with delightful new flavors and were singled out by a crew from the UK BBC for a video-taped interview as part of their coverage of the conference. Seems the UK is keen to discover more about the American Austen phenomenon.

And finally, the ball offered participants the opportunity to imagine themselves at Meryton’s assembly rooms or Neitherfield’s ball. Not content with only the ball to exhibit, this year many attendees wore their Regency finery during the entire weekend. My favorite presentation of the conference? I’m saving that for my next post!