In this age of technology and high-speed access, it is possible to find nearly anyone and anything on-line. When a recent internet search using the phrase “Jane Austen” revealed more than 124,000 related websites, it was clear to see that Jane Austen was not only on the web, but there to stay. With literally thousands of sites to choose from – pages created by everyone from novice fans to museums, organizations and official academic research sites, it may be a bit daunting to know where to start. These next four articles will attempt to categorize some of the many websites available profiling this author and review some of the best sites relating to Jane Austen’s biography, her works, Regency fashions and that time period.
One of the most entertaining and certainly the most popular place to start a search for Jane Austen related information is the Republic of Pemberley. This site- or rather, community- was created in 1996 by a small group of hard-core Janeites. Moved to it’s own server in 1998, they have continued to maintain and update a “Haven in a world programmed to misunderstand obsession with things Austen.” They currently run over 20 message boards (on all topics including each of the novels, the movies, history, sequels, advice and the “Bits of Ivory” board- a place to post your own continuations of the books, such as a recent Uppercross Chronicles, detailing the lives of the next generation of Wentworths and Musgroves), a chat room, a widely respected and inclusive Jane Austen research site, and an incredibly detailed list of links. Pemberley serves about 125,000 visitors and averages around 6,000,000 page views a month. They continue to be volunteer operated and funded by donations.
Other places to visit when looking for Jane Austen related information are The Chawton House Museum and The Chawton House Library, which hosts the Centre for the Study of Early English Women’s Writing . While both these websites provide a wealth of information to the researcher, they also have the added charm of being real places that you can visit while in England. Both sites provide pages of historical and biographical material, along with links, directions and photographs. Other Jane Austen biography pages include: Henry Churchyard’s Jane Austen Information Page, hosted by the Republic of Pemberley, James Dawe’s Jane Austen Page, and of course, The Everything Austen Webring (a group of interconnected sites featuring Jane Austen). Also available on-line are pages for the various Jane Austen Societies around the world -most of which are linked from the JASNA website.
After you’ve explored these sites, try Mitsuharu Matsuoka’s page of Jane Austen links. Her constantly updated site is a treasure trove of Austen resources! Start surfing!
Originally printed in the JASNA-NY Newsletter, Summer 2001. Reprinted and modified with permission from the author, Laura Sauer.