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Celebrating the 200th Birthday of Pride and Prejudice

Published: 28 January 2013
The Uses of Austen, book cover

Lecturers and researchers in English and the Southampton Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies (SCECS) are at the forefront of the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s best-loved novel in 2013.

The Department of English and Southampton Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies will be making a splash with a number of events, lectures, and publications, many in association with Jane Austen’s House Museum, Chawton, and Chawton House Library. The library, set in an Elizabethan Manor House that belonged to Jane Austen’s brother Edward Austen (later Knight), has a mission to promote the writings of Jane Austen and her lesser-known contemporaries and predecessors.

On February 9, Chawton House Library will host a day conference, organized by Dr Gillian Dow, where speakers including film specialist and contributor to Uses of Austen, Dr Shelley Cobb will explore Jane Austen’s style, reception and legacy, her life and times, and 20th and 21st -century adaptations. SCECS will commemorate the anniversary of the establishment of the Chawton House Library with the major international conference, ‘Pride and Prejudices: Women’s Writing of the Long Eighteenth Century’. In July, Professor Emma Clery will deliver a keynote lecture at the international conference, ‘The Locations of Austen’, at the University of Hertfordshire, while in June Dr Dow will be sharing her extensive knowledge of Chawton and its collections with the delegates of the 200th Anniversary Conference at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge. Dr Dow last year co-edited Uses of Austen: Jane’s Afterlives, an exploration of the author’s influence over the 20th and 21st centuries including contributions from several Southampton scholars. She is also a contributor to a new Cambridge Companion to Pride and Prejudice, due out in February.

But celebrations will not just involve academic lectures, conferences and publications. Novelist, Teaching Fellow, and author of Jane Austen’s Guide to Modern Life’s Dilemmas, Rebecca Smith will run writing workshops on themes from Pride and Prejudice at the perfect tranquil setting of the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, in March and April 2013 . Rebecca (who also happens to be Jane’s five-times great niece) will also judge the Jane Austen’s House Museum’s annual competition for young writers, a competition she established when she was the Museum’s writer in residence (2009-10). Open to students in school years 7 – 11, this year’s competition is for a short story of 300-400 words on the theme of First Impressions, and prizes will be awarded at a celebratory tea in Jane’s garden in June.

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