When the British Meet Americans at Jane Austen Sites

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I knew it had to happen eventually, but I hoped that it wouldn’t happen at all: I have been called out as being an American. Yes, most people who talk to me know that I am American (except for those few people who thought I was from Canada or New Zealand). Many British people have also made jabs about the POTUS, which is fine, too, but no one usually deems me unworthy of being in England because I am an American.

On Friday, a visitor to JAHM complained about something in the house (an object’s placement, actually) when I was stewarding, and when I opened my mouth to engage her, she quickly said, “Oh, you’re from America, so you don’t really work here.” Hmm. What an assumption to make!

Speaking of assumptions…Today I was at a JA site where there was a “Sitting with Jane” book bench (again, a whole post on this is forthcoming), and when I opened my mouth, this woman asked, “Do you know of Jane Austen in America?” I smiled and said, “We love her in America, and I am a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America. Jane Austen Society of North America.

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By the way, I love this film!

I explained what I was doing in England for the past six weeks, in my own little scholarly Austenland. Then she smiled and asked me to forgive her! She really was sweet, unlike the visitor to JAHM, who explained to me that the people who run the museum don’t know what they were doing!

Something that has struck me as odd is how polarized opinion is in England on Austen. The people who love her really love her; some people either don’t know anything about her or haven’t read any of her novels, or profess to hate her (as in, “Oh, of course you like Austen. I can’t stand her.”). I guess it’s like that anywhere with any author, and I am just noticing it more right now because this is the 200th anniversary of Austen’s death and I have been immersed in it all in England. 😉

On the whole, the people I have met in England have been so nice to me–and I have felt very welcome here. 🙂

 

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