how to become a complete Jane Austen bore
Friday 22 September 1995
Join the thriving Jane Austen Society, which boasts 2,000 fully paid- up members, eight regional branches, 400 overseas members and an American associate, JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America).
Wear a warming, specially designed Jane Austen sweatshirt, available from the Jane Austen Memorial Trust, bearing three of Hugh Thomson's illustrations for the 1894 edition of the text. Football fans wear their team's shirt to watch a game; why should literature fans feel inhibited?
Prepare a Jane Austen TV dinner with a recipe culled from Deidre le Faye and Maggie Black's The Jane Austen Cookbook. True buffs will buy the ingredients armed with a Jane Austen carrier bag and cook the meal wearing an apron bearing the author's name.
Bid for a first edition. One recently sold at auction for pounds 6,500.
Listen to the Jane Austen Music Compact Disc. Not a posthumous collection of Jane's greatest hits, but a selection of popular songs from the time, which staff at the Memorial Trust claim Jane might have played or sung.
Watch yet more television to top up your Austen fix. The BBC is broadcasting an Omnibus special on 23 October , with the predictable The Making of Pride and Prejudice following on later in the autumn.
And finally ...
Read the book. New editions will be available. Pride and Prejudice, originally entitled First Impressions, is the most widely read of Austen's six novels. She sold it for pounds 110 (having asked for pounds 150), but it quickly became a best-seller. If the novels and the verse are not enough, there is The History of England, a "1066 and All That-style" historical lampoon written by the precocious, but highly erudite adolescent Jane. A full facsimile is available at pounds 8.
The good news: it should all be over by Christmas.
The Jane Austen Society can be contacted through the Jane Austen Memorial Trust on 01420 83262.
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