The Jane Austen Society of North America is a non-profit organization staffed by volunteers and dedicated to the enjoyment and appreciation of Jane Austen and her writing.
Vision: Because literature has the power to change and enrich our lives, we want to see more people reading the great authors, with special emphasis on Jane Austen.
Mission: Our mission is to foster among the widest number of readers the study, appreciation, and understanding of Jane Austen’s works, her life, and her genius.
JASNA was founded in 1979 by Joan Austen-Leigh, Henry G. Burke, and J. David Grey. One hundred Janeites attended the society’s inaugural dinner on October 5, 1979, at the Gramercy Park Hotel in Manhattan. The event was covered by The New Yorker magazine in a “Talk of the Town” item, which began, “Some people who like Jane Austen got together the other evening . . . ”
Since then, the society’s ranks have grown to more than 5,000 members, making JASNA the largest literary society devoted to Jane Austen. But its collegiality and purpose remain the same. Members are of all ages and from diverse walks of life. Although most members live in the United States and Canada, Austen admirers from more than a dozen countries are also JASNA members.
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What We Do
There is always more to learn and enjoy about Jane Austen, and JASNA makes that possible in a variety of ways.
- Many members participate in the activities of one or more of JASNA's 75+ regional groups. At local JASNA meetings members may discuss an Austen novel, hear a lecture about her or the Regency era, learn English country dancing, celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday on December 16 with a tea or luncheon, and much more. The good company of "clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation" makes these gatherings especially congenial.
- Each autumn 700 to 800+ members also gather for JASNA's Annual General Meeting (AGM), a three-day conference with an Austen theme hosted by a JASNA region in the United States or Canada. The AGM features dozens of lectures by Austen scholars and JASNA members, as well as workshops, exhibits, entertainment, and a banquet and Regency ball.
- Our publications and news bulletins keep members up to date with the latest information about Jane Austen and her writing. JASNA’s journals, Persuasions and Persuasions On-Line, are leading sources for Austen studies. JASNA News, which contains feature articles, book reviews, reports from Austen sites in England, and news about the AGM and regions, is mailed to members three times a year, while the monthly e-bulletin, JASNA Update, provides timely news about Austen and JASNA by email.
- Other JASNA programs and activities that further the study and appreciation of Austen's writing and life include: the annual Essay Contest, which is open to students worldwide; the International Visitor Program, which provides a member the opportunity to work on a creative or scholarly project in Chawton for six weeks; and tours to England tailored for JASNA members.
JASNA relies primarily on membership dues and donations for its funding. The society also provides support to sites in England that have close ties to Jane Austen and her family. Contributions to JASNA, which is a section 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, are tax-deductible and are gratefully acknowledged with a receipt.
Photo used in banner © Lisa Brown