Over the weekend the BBC had an article about Jane Austen societies around the world. I was pleasantly surprised to see the group here in Canberra featured first. I’ve included the Canberra part below, but you can read the whole piece HERE.
Australia may still have been a penal colony when Jane Austen was writing her novels, but two centuries on, Austen fans Down Under get together each year to recreate Regency England in Canberra.
Aylwen Gardiner-Garden and her husband John have run the annual Jane Austen Festival for 10 years.
The event grew out of their love of Regency dancing and now more than 300 people come from all over Australia and New Zealand for promenades, grand balls, talks and dance workshops.
“Jane Austen is very popular in Australia – especially after the BBC series aired here in the 1990s – Colin Firth just did it for everyone. And it’s generational – there was another whole new set of fans after the Keira Knightley film,” she explained.
“I don’t think it’s harking back to the old country – it’s more the sense of romance and escaping from reality. It’s not the seedy side of England, like Dickens.
“At the festival, the women can dress up, feel feminine and elegant, and the guys are gentlemen. Teenagers grow up overnight on the dance floor – their manners are fantastic.
“It’s people coming together to learn about the costumes, the books, the dancing. It’s become part of people’s lives, so I keep doing it for the love of it.”