It Started with a Book...
Austen fans are born holding a book or a tablet, in front of television screens and in theaters. I was introduced to Jane Austen as a high school freshman while reading Pride & Prejudice as part of my first year English curriculum. Meeting Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy on the page changed me. I became a self-proclaimed Janeite and thought myself to be the only one! Little did I know...
It was about this time that my Mom introduced me to a hobby I came to love, stamp collecting. I also credit my Mom with bringing the pastime of letter writing into my life during my middle school years when she approached me with the question, "Would you like to have a pen pal?" Before long I was corresponding with friends from around the world - South Korea, Ireland, Japan, England, Finland, Germany, Australia, Israel and the Phillippines. We exchanged letters and cards, photographs and small gifts. It was an extraordinary experience that deeply affected my life and my life interests. I became interested in languages, travel, history, literature, politics, writing and law.
In November of 1997, I attended a program at the beautiful Milwaukee Public Library, sponsored by the Jane Austen Society of North America - Wisconsin Region. Joan Austen-Leigh, Jane's great-great-grandniece, was scheduled to speak. It was a wonderful program; I bought her book, Later Days at Highbury, a sequel to Emma; she signed the first page.
At this gathering, I was thrilled to find a whole roomful of Austen fans and shortly thereafter became a member. I have enjoyed JASNA membership for many years and have benefited from knowing so many Austen devotees. I have also had the pleasure of meeting Austen fans, unattached from any formal group, around nearly every corner, attending book clubs, writing sequels, and savoring the six novels over and over again. Together we have shared and continue to share our love for this wonderful author who when she came into our lives - changed everything!
May you enjoy getting to know each other as you correspond across the miles.