December 16 – Happy Birthday, Jane Austen

Posted on December 16, 2014

Today is the birthday of one of my favorite authors—and a great excuse to sit around and binge-read, or even to binge-watch movies. If the weather outside is frightful where you live, and you need an excuse to stay in and keep cozy and warm, get your Jane Austen on!

Jane Austen was born in England on this date in 1775. She lived her whole life as part of a close-knit family who were landed gentry—which was a good thing—but who had little money—which was a bad thing. During her time, a gentlewoman had no actual work—the servants did that—so she spent most of her time with creative pastimes such as playing the pianoforte (we call them pianos) and painting. Some women were so daring as to read fiction—at the time, many people thought that reading novels was harmful to one's character, that people should stick to reading the Bible and elevating non-fiction. Very few women were so daring as to WRITE fiction!

But Austen did just that. She wrote six novels that have been published and republished ever since Sense and Sensibility was first published in 1811. Every one of those novels has been made into movies, too—some of them have been made into movies, television specials, and even modern-day rewrites and homages.

And speaking of homages, an entire publishing industry has developed around Austen. People have written books about her, about people who are crazy about her, about people who are crazy about her hero Mr. Darcy, and further adventures of her characters. According to Wikipedia, there in an entire Janeite fan culture.

Here are my favorite movie versions of Austen's books:
Best Jane Austen movie:

Best version of Sense and Sensibility:

Best version of Emma:

Best take off on Emma:

Best take off on Pride and Prejudice:

Best movie about Jane Austen fans:

Best movie about Mr. Darcy fans:

Best movie about Austen herself:

Also on this date:

Margaret Mead's Birthday (scroll down)

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