10) Jane Austen
Apparently, turning 200 is a blast if you’re Elizabeth Bennet. You get to marry Colin Firth, watch your story turn into a beloved classic, pop up on every ‘greatest books ever written’ list ever written, and watch your namesake win an Emmy for basically being really awesome at updating one of the greatest love stories ever told.
It’s hard not to wonder if Jane Austen, for all her famed self-awareness, had any idea that the novels she began writing for friends and family would make history, or that two centuries on people would not only still be celebrating the rich Regency universes of her stories, but would have produced an inestimable number of new versions, modernizations, and sequels, both professional and amateur. This year, the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice saw a milestone for the Austen fandom: the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which began as an experimental transmedia project, ballooned into a hardy fandom that rewarded its creative team for their efforts by kickstartiing nearly $500,000 after the YouTube series’ impressive 100-episode run.
Although the Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modernized, YouTube-savvy version of Austen, her more “traditional” fandom is still going strong. In her 2013 book Among the Janeites, a comprehensive and broad look at the Austen fandom, author Deborah Yaffe spoke of the “remarkable endurance of Austen’s stories, the unusual zeal that their author inspires, and the striking cross-section of lives she has touched.”
Photo via dazsmith/Flickr
Austen fandom is proof that while stories get updated, and media types and formats change, the communities we form around the stories we love remain remarkably the same. We have a feeling that in 400 years’ time, the Janeites will still be gathering together to recreate, rewrite, and bond over Mr. Darcy’s fateful meeting with Miss Bennet and her fine eyes at the Meryton Assembly Room.