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Upcoming Virtual Book Clubs for Janeites

Virtual book clubs are a delightful way to discuss Austen’s works with fellow Janeites from the comfort of your own home. Open to readers from all over the world, discussions are rich with differing viewpoints, analyses, and questions. Due to the pandemic many in-person events moved to virtual platforms. Fortunately there are organizations that saw the value in continuing their offering of virtual events in order to reach a wider audience, further public humanities initiatives, and increase accessibility by breaking down geographical barriers.

For an author as internationally recognized and loved as Jane Austen, these virtual book clubs are advantageous to directly experiencing Austen’s global appeal.

Two Austen-affiliated organizations will be running virtual book clubs this spring that will help you prepare for JASP 2023. Back by popular demand Jane Austen’s House in Chawton, England will be hosting their Virtual Book Club series from February- November. Their first two virtual book clubs will feature the Teenage Writings and the novella Lady Susan. Based in Boston, Massachusetts Austen in Boston regularly holds virtual reading groups on Jane Austen and other authors of the period. In March this group of Austen enthusiasts will be discussing Catherine, or The Bower.

We will be recapping all of these virtual events so whether you are unable to attend or just want a review of the lively discussions that are sure to take place please be sure to check back on our blog!

1. Virtual Book Clubs: Teenage Writings

Date and Time: Tuesday, February 7, 2023 2-3 PM GMT

Host: Jane Austen’s House

Cost: £6.50 (All proceeds goes towards the museum’s preservation.)

Registration: Book your tickets here.

Jane Austen’s House is kicking off their virtual book club with the Teenage Writings. With its hectic pacing, reckless heroines, exaggerated characters, and motiveless acts these works are a stark contrast from Austen’s mature novels. Jane Austen’s House also has additional resources on their website for acquainting readers with the Teenage Writings including a short introduction by Professor Kathryn Sutherland, emeritus professor at St. Anne’s College, University of Oxford. In her article Professor Sutherland discusses how Jane Austen trained herself to be a writer through her juvenilia. The website also has six theatrical shorts inspired by Jane Austen’s Teenage Writings as well as an interactive writing game inspired by ‘The Beautifull Cassandra’ in which players help a young Jane Austen write a story. Click here for access to these amazing resources!

2. Austen in Boston: Catherine, or The Bower

Date and Time: Sunday, March 5, 2023 5-5:45 PM EST

Host: Austen in Boston

Cost: Free

Registration: Confirm your attendance here.

An unfinished novel from the juvenilia, Catherine, or The Bower is a diverting precursor to Austen’s mature novels. Although it still has a substantial amount of parody and burlesque, Catherine, or The Bower alsohas realistic settings and characters. The story follows Catherine (or Kitty) Percival, an orphan living with her strict aunt. Need an excuse to reread Northanger Abbey for the umpteenth time? There are some striking similarities between one of the main characters, Camilla Stanley, and Northanger Abbey’s Isabella Thorpe.

3. Virtual Book Clubs: Lady Susan

Date and Time: Tuesday, March 7, 2023 2-3 PM GMT

Host: Jane Austen’s House

Cost: £6.50 (All proceeds goes towards the museum’s preservation.)

Registration: Book tickets here.

The second book club from the Jane Austen House will focus on the epistolary novella, Lady Susan. The beautiful and devious Lady Susan Vernon is definitely a character we love to hate. Or perhaps there are readers who (gasp!) actually love her?! There are bound to be some interesting takes on this controversial character. Bring a cup of tea and your unpopular opinions to this virtual event on Jane Austen’s coming-of-age novella.


Don't forget to register for JASP 2023, June 15-18 on the UNC Chapel Hill Campus!

(Early Bird discounts are going fast!)


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