Become a Janeite

by : 

Stephanie Kapadia, Severna Park Community Library



the fans of a particular person, team, fictional series, etc., regarded collectively as a community or subculture

Oil portrait of Jane Austen






I first read Emma by Jane Austen when I was twelve. Sadly, it wasn’t love at first read - I thought Emma was annoying and silly. As a self-described Anglophile I was disappointed that one of the leading ladies of British Literature wasn’t what I expected. In my high school years I read Pride and Prejudice, as most high schoolers are assigned to do, and while I enjoyed it, it wasn’t until reading Northanger Abbey that I truly fell in love with Austen’s writing. I not only became obsessed with Mr. Tilney and his kind mysteriousness, but I wanted to read the gothic novels Jane mentions: The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Monk. It was after reading those that I truly came to see Northanger Abbey not as a serious gothic novel, but a satire on what we would call fandom today.

When I first read Northanger Abbey I was 18 and Catherine Moreland, the protagonist, was (and still is) my kindred spirit – minus the wealthy family friends that take me to Bath or all the siblings. We both become so fully captivated by the books we read that those characters bleed into real life. We can’t wait to pick the stories up again. We’re gullible. We love nice dresses and hats and a good dance. These are not bad traits unless we decide that our love interest’s father is a cold hearted murderer… and fortunately, we do not have that in common.

Catherine’s story is one about passion to a fault, something I think many of my friends and I can relate to. It’s so easy to get caught up in fandom that we don’t appreciate the thing for what it is anymore – great writing, or inspired music, or an amazing film, or incredible art. Jane knew the intricacies of being immersed in a fandom, she saw the people becoming obsessed with the new gothic novels of the day. She worked that observation into an amusing, light-hearted tale of innocence, romance, and having a good time.

Jane’s legacy is such that she has a massive following surrounding her to this day. There are Janeites, the endearing term for lovers of Jane Austen, all over the world. We may be from different backgrounds, but get us talking about Jane and we’ll be there for hours. I even have a penpal in Brussels that I found in a Jane Austen letter writing group. Fandoms unite people that may not have found each other were it not for their shared interest or obsession. Beautiful friendships form, knowledge is shared, and the world becomes just a bit smaller. Sometimes I wonder what Jane would think about her hoard of Janeite devotees. I think she’d be tickled.

In honor of the the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death on July 18, here are some resources to become immersed in part of Jane’s fandom and become a Janeite yourself.



Yellow book cover with an illustration of a woman riding a horse. Includes the words "Among the Janeites: A Journey through the world of Jane Austen Fandom" by Deborah Yaffe.


Jane Austen’s England by Roy Adkins

At home with Jane Austen by Kim Wilson

Jane Austen’s names: riddles, persons, places by Margaret Anne Doody

The best of Jane Austen knits: 27 regency-inspired designs

Jane Austen Writers’ Club: Inspiration and advice from the world’s best-love novelist by Rebecca Smith

Among the Janeites: a journey through the world of Jane Austen fandom by Deborah Yaffe

All roads least to Austen: a year-long journey with Jane by Amy Elizabeth Smith


Modern Retellings:

This book cover includes a drawing of a black and red carriage with the words "Death Comes to Pemberley A Novel P.D. James" surrounding the illustration.

Emma by Alexander McCall Smith

Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid

Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld (Pride and Prejudice)



Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James

Longbourn by Jo Baker



This is the movie cover for the 2005 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice starring Kiera Knightly. The cover includes and image of Knightly with her love interest from the movie standing behind her.

Movie and Mini-Series Adaptations:

Emma (1996 movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow)

Love & Friendship (2006 movie starring Kate Beckinsale)

Pride & Prejudice (2005 movie starring Kiera Knightly and Matthew MacFadyen)

Sense & Sensibility (2008 mini-series)

Death Comes to Pemberley (2013 mini-series)


Movies based (however loosely) on Austen’s works:

This is the image of a DVD cover. A white heart with the photo of three teenage girls on cell phones inside is on top of a bright pink background. Above the photo is the title of the movie "Clueless The 'Whatever' Edition."

Bridget Jones’ Diary (Pride and Prejudice) 

Clueless (Emma)

Bride & Prejudice (Pride & Prejudice)


Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (Pride & Prejudice)

The Cate Moreland Chronicles (YouTube series based on Northanger Abbey)

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