While not a prolific writer, Jane Austen certainly was one of the most formidable novelists of the English language. Born December 16, 1775 in Hampshire, England, she lived a relatively quiet and unassuming life until her death at age 41 on July 18, 1817. Her plots revolve around domestic life in early 19th century England and are equal parts romance and acerbic social commentary. Her novels are so beloved that they have spun their own industry of Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF). Although Jane Austen only published six complete novels, three of which were released after her death, her literary legacy has spawned over a thousand sequels, retellings, continuations and adaptations.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. Literature lovers and so-called Janeites (fervent devotees of the author’s works) are celebrating her life in a variety of ways culminating with the release of her portrait on the new British £10 note in September. Libraries in particular are encouraged to create displays, book discussions or other event programming based on Jane’s life and works.
Here at the Indiana State Library, we have many items related to Jane Austen. In our general collection, we have several early 20th century editions of her works as well as a collection of early biographical material.
Our Indiana and Talking Books Large Print collections have several examples of popular Jane Austen fan fiction including works by Indiana authors like Karen Joy Fowler (“The Jane Austen Book Club”) and Ben H. Winter (“Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters”).
For ideas on how you can celebrate all things Jane, check out these sites:
Jane Austen Society of North America: http://www.jasna.org/
Best Jane Austen Fanfiction: http://www.goodreads.com/list/show/405.Best_Jane_Austen_FanFiction
Jane Austen 200: A Life in Hampshire: http://janeausten200.co.uk/
This blog post was written by Jocelyn Lewis, Catalog Division supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian” at http://www.in.gov/library/ask.htm.