Where do I begin? There are so many things I want to say to you, and yet I’m not quite sure how to say them. Perhaps, if I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more (see what I did there?).
The first time I heard of you was when I was standing in my local Blockbuster (yes it was that long ago) with my parents. My mom told me about an author, whose works were turned into movies. Of course, at that time, I did not realize this author was from the 1800s, but I would soon learn. We rented the 2005 Pride and Prejudice and the 1995 Sense and Sensibility that night, and it would change my life forever. Over the next few years I would watch and re-watch those movies, especially Pride and Prejudice, as well as more adaptations of you other novels. I started out obsessing over these movies, but eventually I wanted more. Reading Pride and Prejudice really opened my eyes to your genius.
One of the things that I think is so special about your stories and the way you write, is how you craft your characters. You give them such unapologetic flaws, and yet manage to get your readers to look past those flaws, and love them anyway. These flaws make your characters seem real, and to a lot of us, they are real. You gave the world Mr. Darcy, Captain Wentworth, Mr. Knightley, and so many others, who, like other Janites have already mentioned, have given us unrealistic expectations about men. Thanks for that! When I think about it though, we fell in love with these heroes, but in truth we fell in love with you (seriously though, only a woman could think of such poetic lines, as I am half agony, half hope. . . I have loved none but you).
This year we commemorate the two-hundred-year anniversary of your death. But in truth, you never really died, did you? You live on through your stories, through your characters, and through us, your fans. And in turn, we live through you. You take us back to simpler time, where ladies went to balls in pretty dresses, and gentlemen treated them with respect. A time of romance, humor, and happiness, even if your life wasn’t always like that. In a time of war and hardship, you, a simple clergyman’s daughter, inspired the world, and gave all of us hope for a happy ending, even two-hundred years later.
I wouldn’t be the person I am today without you. You and your work have shaped me into myself, and will continue to do so for the rest of my life. Period dramas are my everything—and you were the start of that. When I was younger, I even dressed as Elizabeth Bennet for Halloween. Although, everyone thought I was either a Quaker or a Pilgrim (my outfit was black and white), but oh well. I knew.
You inspire me to write and you have inspired so many others, with your enticing characters and lively stories. There are so many multimedia adaptations and modern twists on your stories, that there’s literally a book that lists some of them. And entire book listing, a fraction of all that you’ve inspired! You! With your words, your spirit, and your mind.
I feel like I’m rambling, so I’ll come to a close: We may be parted across centuries, yet I feel as though we are family, and your characters are my friends. Your words will never die—they will continue to pass thorough each generation, and touch them, as they have touched me.
Thank you, Jane.