Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

Breaking news!  what a birthday gift for some Austen collector out there:  the Sotheby’s auction today saw the sale of Emma: first edition, all volumes with the ownership signatures of Jane Austen’s closest female friend Martha Lloyd ( Hammer Price with Buyer’s Premium:  37,250 GBP); and another Emma first edition, volumes 1 and 3 (lacking volume 2), the copy sent by Jane Austen to her fellow novelist Maria Edgeworth, with the ownership signature “Maria Edgeworth” on title page of volume 1, (Hammer price with Buyer’s Premium, 79, 250 GBP) – more on this in a full post tomorrow….

First, the grand announcement that the latest JASNA Persuasions On-Line Vol. 31, No.1, [click here for the Table of Contents ],  published annually on Jane Austen’s birthday, December 16th, is now available for viewing.  As always, a treasure-trove of essays on all things Austen – some from the 2010 AGM on Northanger Abbey, where “mystery, mayhem and muslin” ruled, and other “Miscellany” on topics ranging from Austen films and chick-lit, gender issues, to new thoughts on Austen’s death and Juliet McMaster on “Jane Austen’s Children” [perhaps signalling a new area in Austen research – see my posted interview with David Selwyn on his new book Jane Austen and Children and my upcoming review]…

And new this year, the “Jane Austen Bibliography”  has been reinstituted.  This annual compilation has not been published since 2006, since the death of the long-term compiler Professor Barry Roth in 2008.  Yours truly has taken on the task with this 2009 bibliography – my background in librarianship and antiquarian bookselling, as well as a love of bibliography [how weird is that!], not to mention Austen knowledge, has led me to this JASNA task – I will be tackling the missing years of 2007 and 2008 and those will be published along with the 2010 biblio in the 2011 Persuasions On-Line next December.  Any additions, corrections, suggestions appreciated…


But now on to the Birthday Celebration!  I was away and did not get to Maria Grazia at her Jane Austen Book Club blog in time to be a part of her Birthday Blog Tour – but I send you to her site and encourage you to follow the links to the other 15 Austen bloggers, all posting today on this 235th year of our “Dear Jane” – visit and comment – there are many wonderful Austen-inspired prizes!


For this year’s Birthday post, I have decided to compile a selection of presents that I think Austen would appreciate herself – we are so taken with all the Austen-related items for sale, slipping them onto our “want lists” and discretely leaving said lists around inconspicuous places for family and friends to find, or buying for our Austen-loving friends the latest and greatest in Austen-land books and paraphernalia for their birthdays and holidays – but what about Jane?  This is after all her day – and if we read the letters and her works and the various biographies, we get a true sense of what meant the most to her.  She led a fairly penny-pinching lifestyle once her father passed away and only through the generosity of family was she able to live the life of the gentry she was born to – a widowed mother and two unmarried sisters – exactly the stuff of her novels – and without any men of “good fortune” to “rescue” them, they learned to live frugally and well, but Jane still had her passions for certain things – and so if I could, I would give her all of these [and this is just a small sampling of all the possibilities!] ~ 

Tea:  from Twinings of course – “I am sorry to hear there has been a rise in tea…I do not mean to pay Twining until later in the day.” (Ltr. 98)

and served in a Wedgwood cup and saucer; “On Monday I had the pleasure of receiving, unpacking & approving our Wedgwood ware.” (Ltr. 75)


Teacup:  Wedgwood Harlequin  

*Note that Edward Austen’s dinnerware is up for sale at auction today at Sotheby’s – estimate is 50,000 – 70,000 GBP – the very set that “we went to Wedgwoods where my Br & Fanny chose a Dinner Set. – I beleive the pattern is a small Lozenge in purple, between Lines of narrow Gold; – and it is to have the Crest.” (Ltr. 224)



Stationary:  an unlimited supply of paper, ink and postage stamps, so she can write all that she will with no need to stop at one sheet or hope for a charitable “franking”:

Writing Paper and ink:  from Plazaverde.net


Postage stamps:  from Stamp Circuit

Calling cards:  From Cambria Cove, so she can visit all over Hampshire, Kent, Bath, and London to her heart’s content:

 [please substitute an “A” for the “C”…]


Fashion needs and accessories:  never enough for Jane of any of these, but I present to her for this birthday:

1.  A New Bonnet, this one fashionably covered in fruit, from HorrorShirts.co.uk ~ “Flowers are very much worn, & Fruit is still more the thing. – Eliz: has a bunch of Strawberries, & I have seen Grapes, Cherries, Plumbs & Apricots – There are likewise Almonds & raisins, french plumbs & Tamarinds at the Grocers, but I have never seen any of them in hats…” (Ltr. 20) ~

 or maybe this one at Miss Amelia’s Miniatures:   


2.  A variety of Floral ribbon trimmings at HymanHendler.com ~ “Must we buy lace , or will ribbon do?” (Ltr. 47)

or this:


3.  Fabric: a painted cotton from India at Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion:  and hopefully it will be “as wide as it used to be” (Ltr. 72) – “I shall want two new coloured gowns for the summer, for my pink one will not do more than clear me from Steventon.” (Ltr. 33)


4.  Stockings: always in need, never enough money –  “You say nothing of the silk stockings; I flatter myself, therefore, that Charles has not purchased any, as I cannot very well afford to pay for them; all my money is spent in buying white gloves and pink persian.” (Ltr. 1) – here is a year’s supply from Liverpool Museums ~


5.  And “a kerseymere Spencer” which will be “quite the comfort” in this year’s snow-bound England! (Ltr. 55)

 [from Costumes.org ]

6.  and for the men in her life ~ A Pattern for a Great Coat, which she so lovingly bestows upon her Hero Henry –  “And then his hat sat so well, and the innumerable capes of his greatcoat looked so becomingly important!” (NA, v.II, ch. 5) – this is from Reconstructing History:


Books for Jane’s Library: 

1.  A Magazine subscription to the Lady’s Monthly Museum – so she will be forever current in news, literature, and fashion:

[from Monash University Library] and Google Books for the volume from 1817.

2.  From her beloved “Dear Dr. Johnson”, a copy of  Samuel Johnson’s  Rasselas:


3.  Samuel Richardson, author of her favorite book, Sir Charles Grandison, and the author referenced in Austen’s only footnote (NA, v.I, ch. 3), I offer a lovely bound copy of Richardson’s  Pamela at Stikeman Bindings:

  “Samuel Richardson; “The Complete Works” in Twenty Volumes in Deluxe Bindings, Autograph Edition; From a set of Twenty Volumes, this is the Novel “Pamela” in Five Volumes, 4to, of Full Green Crushed Morroco; Boards of Wide Borders in an Art Nouveau style, four Bright Scarlet Tulipform onlays on each board, and three Red Rose Onlays in the spine compartments (55 onlays in all); Spines sunned, here digitally retouched to approximate the original green. Hinges cracked and starting © Jeff Stikeman”

Travel accommodations:  her very own Barouche so she can travel at her own whim rather her brothers’ schedules:  “I liked my solitary elegance very much, & was ready to laugh all the time, at my being where I was. I could not feel that I had naturally small right to be parading about London in a Barouche.” (Ltr. 85) – she will now have all the right possible…


Food:  and just because she mentions it so much, she must have some true affection for it! ~ her very own Bowl of Gruel:  from BBC News 



Popular Culture:  just because I think she would get a chuckle out of all this… 

1.  Lost in Austen at Amazon or your local bookseller


2.  Such a lover of puzzles might like her very own:


3.  A Larger-than-life wall poster of the generations-obsessed-over Mr. Darcy ~ [please take your pick…]






7.  And lastly, her “own darling Child” (Ltr. 79) ~ Pride and Prejudice – the  1st edition:  so she would at last get a portion of the worth of her own pen!

[From Paul Fraser Collectibles.com]


Happy Birthday Jane ~ enjoy your handsome and “noble Gifts” [though alas! no Ermine Tippet this year!] (Ltr. 98)

Readers all ~ what would you give Jane Austen for her birthday?

17 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

  1. Very unique post! I like the booksby her favorite author. I’m sure that will please her! And the larger than life posters of the all the Mr. Darcy’s are brilliant!

    Perhaps Jane Austen would like some new piano music? Some country dances she can learn and play for her nieces and nephews?


  2. Pingback: A Jane Austen Day! « Bygone Books Blog

    • No, no, Mary Ellen – any wrapped up Captain Wentworth should be sent MY way! – but all kidding aside – a lovely gift idea for Jane – I think she would heartily approve…

      Thanks for stopping by!


  3. Just want to stop by and join in the birthday fun… even though I haven’t posted anything on Jane, I’ve been hopping around and sharing the excitement of Janeites everywhere. This is such an interesting post, so rich and informative. Thanks for all the time you must have spent in preparing it.

    And have yourself a very Merry Christmas too!


    • Goodness Vic, not nearly as “awe”-inspiring as yours on Austen’s first two years, that seemd to encompass her bio, the birthing tradtitions of the late 18th century, the clothing for toddlers, and so much more! – I was too late to get in on the birthday blog tour – great posts by all!

      Thanks for stopping by Vic – and Happy Holidays to you!


  4. Deb,
    Love just EVERYTHING in this birthday post! I would give Jane a hearty supply of ink, quills and paper!

    Thanks for all my smiles today!



  5. Pingback: The Jane Austen Birthday Soiree! ~ A Love Letter to Jane Austen ~ and Giveaway! « Jane Austen in Vermont

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