With any literary phenomenon, people often establish gatherings to celebrate an author, an author’s writings, or the time period in which an author lived and wrote. Or they just “fan girl” over the characters in varying degrees of intensity (remind anyone of the Twilight craze from a few years ago???) Having heard about Austenians (men and women who like Austen’s time period around the Regency movement), I was curious to see if there was a festival or gathering centered around Jane Austen. And, of course, there is. While I have yet to come across people who obsess more over Mr. Knightley than they did over Robert Pattinson, it turns out that there is a UK-based Jane Austen website from which several Jane Austen events are organized, complete with a 10-day Jane Austen Festival in Bath.
Also, as I learned from this article, apparently earlier this year on September 13th, 2014, the Grand Regency Costumed Promenade, part of the Jane Austen Festival, attempted, and succeeded to break the Guinness World Records record for “the largest gathering of people dressed in regency in costumes.” Over 550 men, women, and children, all clad in Regency period costumes, gathered outside the Assembly Halls in Bath in order to break the previously set record of 491 people gathered in the United States. There is even an annual summer ball which, this year, coincidentally with my reading, will celebrate the 200th anniversary of the first publication of the novel Emma. Many Austenians claim that such events are about something more than just celebrating Jane Austen and her works; rather, they commemorate a way of life that is deemed more elegant and genteel, with more style and grace. All I can say is that, while it may have been a stylish lifestyle, I am not sure that I would have survived the style trends of petticoats and chemisettes. So what do you think: Will you start sewing up a storm to create the perfect period costume and attend events such as these, or is the Austenian reenactment just not for you??? Either way, I doubt Jane Austen ever thought she would be involved in the breaking of a Guinness world record.