ALH Anna Lee Huber

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Happy Birthday, Miss Austen!
December 16, 2011

Jane Austen


Today is Jane Austen’s birthday. She was born on December 16, 1775, which makes her 236 years young. Or, at least, she would be if she were still alive. Sometimes I wish she really had been a vampire or werewolf, or one of the other immortal creatures that modern-day authors have ascribed to her in recent years for their own series. Think of all the wonderful books she would have written by now. She lived but 41 ½ short years, and yet she wrote six enduring classics that have made her one of the world’s all-time, most-beloved authors. 



Wishbone the dog as Mr. DarcyI can still vividly remember the first time I read Pride and Prejudice. And I have one of my suitemates from my first year of college to thank for it. Stacy was an avid Jane Austen fan, while I had never consciously read a single one of her sentences. I knew who she was, of course, and even the titles of her novels, but my only exposure to her stories had been an episode of Wishbone, in which Wishbone, the dog, plays Mr. Darcy. Needless to say, that was hardly an auspicious introduction to Miss Austen’s genius, nor could a Jack Russell Terrier do the legendary Mr. Darcy proud, no matter how cute his floppy ears were. (Here’s the YouTube link for the first part of that episode if you’re in the mood to laugh - “Ah! Meeting all these new people gives me a headache.”)

That all changed with Stacy’s enthusiastic recommendation. She lent me her copy of Pride and Prejudice, and promised me we would watch the BBC film adaptation once I’d finished it. From the very first chapter I was hooked, laughing delightedly at Mr. Bennet’s droll teasing of his silly wife. I devoured the story, and settled in to watch the BBC miniseries, falling in love with Colin Firth—a man who was born to play the role of Mr. Darcy—like so many woman before me. Then I turned to Miss Austen’s other books—Sense and Sensibility, and then Persuasion, followed shortly by Emma, Mansfield Park, and Northanger Abbey
Now I own copies of all of her books, as well as at least one film adaptation of each of them. Each and every time I open one of Miss Austen’s books I am transported again, held captive by her wit, honest characterization and subtle humor. Her writing is truly a treasure. And I will be forever grateful to my good friend Stacy for recommending Miss Austen's books to me.    

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