We have recently returned from an amazing annual conference organised by the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA), held this year in Kansas City, Missouri, and focusing on Persuasion the bi-centenary of whose publication is being celebrated in 2018.
JASNA is a remarkable organisation with over 5,000 members and 75 branches throughout the US and Canada. Each year the conference is held in a different North American city – last year Huntingdon Beach, next year Williamsburg.
This year’s had a record attendance of over 900 delegates for the 4 day conference.
The team from Jane Austen’s House Museum (JAHM) included our Director, Mary Guyatt, our American friend, Carol Chernega, who sells JAHM shop merchandise at the conference ‘Emporium’ and ourselves. We all really enjoyed meeting old friends and making new ones.
Amongst the many striking features of the conference are:
the incredible warmth and friendliness with which we and all attendees are greeted. People are fascinated when they realise that we come from the place where Jane lived and wrote or revised all her great masterpieces (the ‘mothership’!)
the fact that such professional conferences are organised and run by volunteers.
the wide range of interests from dressing up in Regency clothes to the latest in-depth academic research
the fascinating breadth and outstanding quality of the lectures given
Mary gave two excellent presentations in the main auditorium – one on Jane’s Sailor Brothers
(naval characters and matters feature prominently in Persuasion), the other giving an update on recent events and future plans at JAHM.
Sue gave a talk to over 350 people on Lighting in the Time and Novels of Jane Austen which was much appreciated.
We were also thrilled to unveil our very own replica of Jane Austen’s Pelisse coat in the 'Regency Room'. The beautiful garment, constructed for us by textile historian Hilary Davidson, will soon be on show at the Museum - watch this space!
Registered Design Right Hampshire County Council 2015, manufactured by Jane Austen’s House Museum under licence from Hampshire Cultural Trust and Hampshire County Council.
One of our personal interests is to ‘sell’ Alton and Chawton and we were delighted to share information about the 2019 Jane Austen Regency Week. Lots of people were already well aware of the Week and are planning to attend events. Many of our discussions took place in the Emporium where we sold a huge amount of our stock.
Finally, a number of our American friends wondered why we chose to go early to the conference and stay in Kansas. In fact, we found Kansas to be a wonderful and welcoming city with many green areas and several outstanding museums.
All in all, a fabulous experience spent with American and Canadian friends celebrating the author who means so much to us all. We wonder what Jane would have made of it…
Martyn Dell, Trustee
Sue Dell, Collections Volunteer