Jane Austen 200th anniversary events 2017

Engraved portrait from A Memoir of Jane Austen by JE Austen-Leigh, on display as part of the Jane Austen by the Sea exhibition, Royal Pavilion, Brighton. Jane Austen 200 anniversary events 2017
Engraved portrait from A Memoir of Jane Austen by JE Austen-Leigh, on display as part of the Jane Austen by the Sea exhibition. Credit: www.jimpix.com/Royal Pavilion, Brighton

To mark the 200th anniversary of the death of writer Jane Austen, we’ve rounded up some of the best events taking place across Britain in 2017.

Jane Austen is celebrated as one of our nation’s most cherished novelists, with her 19th-century books, set amid the social circles of the middle and upper classes in Regency England, famed for Austen’s sharp wit and wry observations.

From her debut novel, Sense and Sensibility, through her ’darling child’ Pride and Prejudice which has inspired countless adaptations and parodies, to the comedy of manners of Emma, Jane Austen’s talent for creating characters that have withstood the test of time, has marked her out as one of England’s literary greats.

On 18 July 1817 Jane Austen passed away in Winchester following a period of ill health – possibly from Addison’s disease – and this year, 200 years after her death there are numerous events and exhibitions celebrating her life and work: here are some of the best Jane Austen events for 2017.

Jane Austen by the Sea, Royal Pavilion, Brighton

George IVs copy of Emma. Jane Austen 200 anniversary events 2017
George IVs copy of Emma. Credit: Royal Collection Trust/Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2017

This show looks at the relationship Austen had with the ocean and the role it played in her works. Highlights of Jane Austen by the Sea, which runs from 17 June to 8 January 2018, include King George IV’s specially bound copy of Emma – the final novel published in Austen’s lifetime — which Austen dedicated to him (under much pressure) while he was Prince Regent.

The exhibition will also display the manuscript of her unfinished novel, Sanditon, which is set in a seaside town in Sussex, as well as prints, paintings and letters and a look at the role Brighton played in Pride and Prejudice.

Which Jane Austen? Bodleian Libraries, Oxford

This exhibition at Oxford University’s Bodleian Libraries, which runs from 23 June to 29 October 2017, aims to challenge long-held perceptions of Austen.

Which Jane Austen? presents the author as an ambitious and daring wartime writer, who was influenced by the international adventures of her family. 

Throughout most of Austen’s adult life, Britain was at war with Napoleonic France and three of her brothers served in the military. In view of this the exhibition explores her books as wartime texts and also looks at how her family’s global travels to India, Africa and China gave her a rich international look.

The Bodleian Libraries is home to one of the world’s three most significant collections of Austen materials and the exhibition also features many items on loan. Highlights include The Watsons, the earliest surviving manuscript of a novel by Jane Austen in the process of development.

Professor Kathryn Sutherland, curator of the exhibition and world-leading Austen expert at Oxford University, said: Œ”Contrary to popular belief, Jane Austen was no retiring country mouse. And while it is assumed that, as an 18th-century female, her context was local and her outlook parochial, Austen was always very much a writer of the world.“

Jane Austen Tour and Tea

Jane Austen was born in the small village of Steventon in Hampshire and although she spent much of her life in Bath, she later returned to Hampshire and she is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

This tour by specialist cathedral guides includes insights into Jane’s life and her connection to Hampshire, a walk through the Cathedral Close to the house on College Street where she died and time for reflection at her grave.

After the tour there will be time to share thoughts on Jane over a cup of tea or coffee and a slice of cake, which is included in the price.

The two-hour tours run until 4 November 2017 and cost £12.50. You could even combine your tour with a stay at Pemberly, a 14th-century cottage located on the walking tour route.

Read about further Jane Austen 200 events in Hampshire.

Jane Austen in Bath

For most of us, when we think of Jane Austen we think of Bath – it was here, in her adopted home city (she lived here from 1801-1806) that Austen set two of her six novels – Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

And so, in her 200th anniversary year, the annual Jane Austen Festival (this year from 8-17 September) in which thousands of fans descend on the city of Bath to attend its workshops, dances, readings and more (many wearing Regency dress), promises to be bigger and better than ever before.

Read more about Jane Austen’s Bath.