Posted on Dec 15, 2010

To mark Jane Austen’s birthday, Schaffer Library will host a celebration Thursday, Dec. 16 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. in the Phi Beta Kappa room on the second floor.

Jane Austen

Rare books from the College’s Special Collections will be displayed, including a first edition of “Pride and Prejudice,” as well as other works by and about Austen, the beloved 19th century novelist. Also on display will be early editions of a variety of works read or cited by Austen in her books.

Birthday cake, coffee and tea will be served.

Each year on Austen’s birthday, members of the Jane Austen Society of North America (which numbers about 3,000) hold small gatherings around the world to celebrate her legacy, which includes the classics Sense and Sensibility,” “Pride and Prejudice” and “Emma.” Local Janeites have met in Delmar in recent years, but Annette LeClair, librarian and head of technical services, thought Union would be a perfect host for an Austen party.

“I thought, wow, some of these folks have never seen a first edition of “Pride and Prejudice,” said LeClair, who will give a brief overview of the books on display. She has presented her work on Austen at JASNA general meetings and at a variety of regional meetings and events. Her publications have appeared in “Persuasions” and the Modern Library Association’s “Approaches to Teaching Austen’s Emma.”

LeClair also thought the campus gathering would appeal to members of the library who formed the Jane Austen Book Club a couple of years ago, tackling all six of her novels together.

Advance reservations for the event are requested. To make a reservation, contact LeClair at or Leslee Barklee at

Austen was born Dec. 16, 1775, and died July 18, 1817. Even at 235 years, LeClair said a toast to her talents never gets old.

“It’s a wonderful tradition to simply pause and say, ‘What an amazing woman she was,’” she said.