Jane Austen Fest

Portrait of Jane Austen

This year, 2017, marks 200 years since Jane Austen, beloved English novelist, passed away. JaneFest, held at the University of Washington’s Mary Gates Hall on November 4th from 1-5:30 pm, celebrates her inspired work and many aspects of the Regency era she lived in and wrote about. Jane Austen is being celebrated internationally this year as well, with happenings in other parts of the world, especially near Hampshire in England where she lived.

According to the Janefest Facebook page, this upcoming, free Seattle event covers “various aspects of Austen’s life, times, and work, such as Regency cooking, clothing, letter-writing, and embroidery. Try your hand at Regency card games such as whist, and try your feet at Regency-style dances! Activities include trivia, a visit to UW Special Collections for a Rare Books Workshop, discussions of Austen’s fiction, dance workshops, a photo booth, fashion shows, and more!”

A Regency Ball is also scheduled for that evening, which quickly sold out. And the “pre-ball” class to learn English Country dance steps from that time period is also completely booked.

Public transit, carpooling, taxi, or alternate means to the fest are being recommended to avoid parking dilemmas, due to the UW Football home game that day. Practice patience for standing in lines (or queues, as they say in Britain), since this is already shaping up to be a popular event.

Letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra. June 11th, 1799.

If you are unable to attend, here are a few suggestions to still celebrate Jane Austin’s legacy:

  • Participate in a meeting or event with the Jane Austen Society of North America (Puget Sound Region).
  • Join a discussion at the Jane Austen Book Club of Greater Seattle.
  • Make your own Regency era gown. (This article is for those who don’t necessarily excel in sewing.)
  • Or browse for period clothing and accessories at the Seattle Opera’s Costume Sale, Saturday Oct. 21st.
  • Host your own tea party or indoor (since it’s cool out) picnic with recipes, fabric, and rituals from Jane’s time. Jane Austen 200’s picnic pack is one example. Maybe conclude that party with watching a screen adaptation of one of her books. Value Village, Goodwill, and thrift consignment stores are often good places to check for elaborate silverware and glassware, too.
  • Begin your own legacy (work on your own novel or screenplay!) which hopefully also stands the test of time. We could all learn a thing or two about longevity and good writing from Jane Austen.