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Janeite Spotlight: Introducing Dolores Fallon

Hello, dear readers! This year, we’ve begun a blog series highlighting Austen-lovers around the world—sharing how they first discovered Austen’s fiction, why they love Austen, how they’ve contributed to the Janeite community, you get the picture. Fans, who cultivate and engage in discourse surrounding Austen’s life and fiction, participate in workshops and conventions, host book clubs, and don I ❤️ Darcy merchandise with pride (but hopefully not prejudice—wink, wink), are the reason Jane’s spirit survives in the twenty-first century. We deserve a shout-out! And we deserve the chance to connect with like-minded individuals across the world. This Spotlight features Dolores Fallon, a traveling blogger who loves to share her many adventures with the digital world.


Dolores Fallon

Dolores Fallon is a sixty-year-old writer with a degree in journalism, a background in professional marketing, and a passion for baking, books, travel, and all things Jane Austen. When asked to describe herself, she offers a characterizing comparison between herself and her husband: “When my husband and I travel,” Dolores says, referring to one of their favorite hobbies, “I’m research. The what-can-we-do-there person. He’s logistics. The how-do-we-do-this person.”

She stumbled upon Jane Austen first in 2009, when she was forty-six years old and visiting Hatchards Bookshop in London. “I thought, if I’m in London’s oldest bookshop, I should buy a British book,” Dolores says. “And there’s Jane Austen on the cover of Claire Tomalin’s Jane Austen: A Life. Before that, I had not read any Jane Austen novels or thought about Jane Austen as a person. But Claire Tomalin’s biography brings Jane Austen to life.”

The book that started it all...

As she began digging deeper into Austen’s world, Dolores found that she admired Jane Austen’s confidence as a writer most of all. While Jane was never rich, she knew she was a talented novelist. She wasn’t famous or married, and society perhaps would not have considered her a success. Yet, she accomplished more than many of her contemporaries, possibly because she wasn’t rich or famous or married, and we’re still talking about her today.

Dolores doesn’t often interact directly with Jane Austen fandom; she prefers the solitary acts of reading or listening. For instance, one of her favorite podcasts, The Thing About Austen, takes listeners all the way down the Austenian rabbit hole, covering “everything from alphabet boxes to Wentworth’s umbrella.” She loves learning new things about Jane Austen and her world, especially through detail-oriented books like John Mullan’s What Matters in Jane Austen and Paula Byrne’s The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things. And in 2013, Dolores planned her own tour through real-life Austenland, visiting Bath, Chawton, Lyme Regis, Steventon, and Winchester, all with a Jane Austen action figure nestled in her car’s center console.

Jane Austen the navigator

“Like me,” she laughs, “the Jane Austen action figure isn’t a good land navigator, so fortunately my husband drove.”

In 2020, Dolores started a blog to write about her favorite things: baking, books, and travel. She is not paid for reviews, and she doesn’t have advertising on the site—she just enjoys the creative process. As you might imagine, several of her posts tackle various Jane Austen-related topics, including a review of the biography that kick-started Dolores’s Austen obsession. “While Claire Tomalin’s biography brought me to Jane Austen, I disagree when Tomalin writes that Jane Austen’s Hampshire neighbors do not make a ‘recognizable appearance’ in her novels,” she says, “and that ‘the world of her imagination was separate and distinct from the world she inhabited.’”

Like other writers, both of Austen’s era and the present day, Dolores believes that Jane Austen used the people around her for inspiration, which is why her novels still ring true today. Times may change, but people do not. She adds, “Good writing is good writing. No matter how long ago it was written. We still listen to Mozart and Bach. If something is well-made, it will last.”

St. Nicholas Church at Steventon

When it comes to adaptations of the late author’s work, Dolores thinks Jane would enjoy the fact that fans feel the need to “take a stand” on Austen adaptations. “Jane Austen mocked snobs and she was a snob. So, I’ll follow her lead on both counts.” While she does not enjoy many adaptations of Austen’s work, believing them inferior to the original novels, she highlights Jude Morgan’s An Accomplished Woman as an exception to the rule. In this novel, Morgan tells the Persuasion-esque story of Lydia Templeton, a clever, self-reliant, unmarried heroine who must help her young ward choose between two suitors, realizing in the process that her own love story might not be over after all.

In the future, Dolores believes that Austen fandom and community participation will continue to move online. There are advantages for both creators and consumers in the digital sphere. On one hand, you can do more in less time online. Consumers can broaden their knowledge and creators can broaden their reach. No matter the platform, most fans generally consume more than they create, so the ability to “do more” in less time is significant for both consumers and creators.

The view at Chawton Cottage

However, while fans are now less likely to meet in real life, the ownership of physical items is still important. Whether you call yourself a fan or a collector, ownership of physical items connects us more closely to the community, even if you never meet that community in-person. But getting together to share your love of Jane Austen—or anything else—is still a fun part of belonging to a fan community! Dolores herself joined the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) last year, and she would like to attend its next Annual General Meeting. “Let’s see how I handle that!” she laughs.

Connect with Dolores on the Fold Gently blog, Instagram, and Facebook.

Excerpted from email correspondence with Dolores Fallon, February 17, 2024.



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