By Jon Michail
Jane Austen passed away 200 years ago, yet the names of Lizzy Bennet and Mr Darcy are familiar even to people who have never picked up one of Austen’s novels.
Then there are those who have read Austen’s works…. countless times. The academics, the Janeites, and those who simply appreciate her work for its place in classic literature.
Austen’s books have been translated into over 35 languages. Over 100,000 people make the pilgrimage to Jane’s homes each year and there are over 30 Jane Austen Societies worldwide, the largest of which (The Jane Austen Society of North America) has more than 70 branches. Over fifty Jane Austen events and festivals are held each year across the world and her works have inspired at least 75 movies or television series. More than 20,000 fan fiction novels have been published, based on Jane’s life, work, and characters, and there are over 7,000 Austen related websites and social media profiles online.
A new book aiming to satisfy this craving for all things Austen is Caroline Jane Knight’s Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage. Part history, part memoir, Knight’s book shines a new light on the places, traditions and family that shaped and were shaped by the author so many people love and admire.