George Justice, Editor
Jane Austen Each Day Keeps Boredom Away  

A Year with Jane Austen,
A Calendar for 2002

By the Jane Austen Society of North America, Wisconsin Region, 2002.
11" x 17" wall calendar printed on ivory cardstock.
12 b/w illustrations by Hugh Thomson. $12.00.
(See the Wisconsin Region’s listing in the Merchandise section of this newsletter for ordering information.)

Reviewed by Iris Lutz.

If you are like me, you need a calendar to help you organize your life and keep track of what day it is. And because you have to look at it every day, you probably select a calendar each year that reflects one of your interests or is aesthetically pleasing. Have you also thought—as I have—that it would be fun to hang a Jane Austen calendar on the wall? Thanks to the Wisconsin Region of JASNA, you now can!

“A Year with Jane Austen” measures 17" high by 11" wide when open and is printed on high-quality, ivory cardstock. Each month’s spread features a black-and-white line drawing by Hugh Thomson that has been cleverly selected to illustrate an event in one of the novels that occurred during that month. Among the 12 illustrations reproduced in the calendar, five are from Pride and Prejudice, three from Emma, two from Mansfield Park and two from Northanger Abbey. (A 2003 edition of “A Year with Jane Austen” is in the works and will feature illustrations by C. E. Brock and H. M Brock.)  

The calendar also includes 309 Austen-related date entries, based on information culled from Jane Austen’s letters, various biographies, and R. W. Chapman’s chronologies of her novels. Surprisingly, mapping events from Austen’s life and novels onto the pages of a 12-month calendar produces juxtapositions that are not only interesting, but also touching or amusing.

Entries on July 18: 1816—JA writes “Finis” at the end of Persuasion. 1817—JA dies in Winchester, at No. 8 College Street.

Entries on November 18: Mr. Collins arrives at Longbourn. 1814—JA writes niece Fanny, “Anything is to be preferred or endured rather than marrying without Affection.”

Entries on December 16:  1775—Jane Austen is born. 1810—Charles Musgrove marries Mary Elliot.

Austen newcomers and long-time enthusiasts alike should find the calendar a splendid way to infuse each day with a bit more Jane. (Can we ever get enough?) Many will also welcome it as a reference guide for important Austen milestones, as well as an introductory tool for studying the chronologies within the novels. I use the term introductory because—by focusing only on Chapman’s version of the chronologies—several key events from Emma (some of my personal favorites) are missing from the 2002 calendar.

In her article “Chronology Within the Novels” Jo Modert makes a strong case for the fact that Emma is based on the calendar years 1813 and 1814, “with main events occurring on holy/holidays, both New- and Old-Style.”1 She also points out that Austen played a “hidden calendar game” with the reader. For example, Jane Fairfax receives the pianoforte, Frank Churchill’s gift of love, on February 14, Valentine’s Day. Frank attempts to confess his and Jane’s secret to Emma before leaving Highbury on February 22, Shrove Tuesday—a day of penitence. In addition, Mr. Knightley proposes to Emma on July 6, Old Midsummer Day.2 (I understand that these dates will be among 25 new entries added to the 2003 edition.)

Of course, “A Year with Jane Austen” also functions as a calendar. You just need to decide whether you want to write in it or keep it in mint condition. You can use it to track appointments, although with 309 date entries, the amount of space available for adding personal notes is somewhat limited, making the calendar more useful for tracking the schedules of one or two individuals rather than those of several very busy family members. Most dates can accommodate one to four personal entries—depending on the day and the size of your handwriting.

All in all, “A Year with Jane Austen” should be an appealing addition to any Janeite’s wall or desk. The Austen- related entries and illustrations make the calendar a true page-turner. Month after month.
Note: “A Year with Jane Austen” was largely researched and written by the late Joan Philosophos, a member of the Wisconsin Region. A tribute to this leading light of JASNA  is in this issue. Kim Wilson will continue as the calendar’s editor and graphic designer for the 2003 edition.

1 Jo Modert, “Chronology Within the Novels,” The Jane Austen Companion, ed. J. David Grey, A. Walton Litz, and Brian Southam (New York: Macmillan, 1986), pp. 57-58.
2 Ibid.

Iris Lutz is JASNA’s newly-elected First Vice President, Regions as well as the Regional Coordinator for Southern Arizona. She has been a JASNA member since 1996.

JASNA News v.18, no. 3, Winter 2002, p. 20

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