Barnegat performer brings Jane Austen to life at Toms River Branch

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Trish Chambers of Barnegat portrays English novelist Jane Austen during a program held on Dec. 16 at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library. The event marked the 238th birthday of Jane Austen.

Trish Chambers of Barnegat portrays English novelist Jane Austen during a program held on Dec. 16 at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library. The event marked the 238th birthday of Jane Austen.

TOMS RIVER  – For an author who just turned 238, Jane Austen is doing rather well.

Barnegat resident Trish Chambers brought the noted English writer back to life just in time for her birthday on Dec. 16 in a program at the Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library.

Austen was born in 1775 and died on July 18, 1817. The English novelist’s work of romantic fiction, earned her a place as one of the most widely read writers in English literature.

Chambers portrayed Austen wearing a period costume and spoke to an audience of nearly 40 people about the realities of English Society at the time of Austen’s life.

Austen’s realism, biting irony and social commentary earned her historical importance among scholars and critics alike. The author lived her entire life as part of a close family located on the lower fringes of the English landed gentry. Austen was educated primarily by her father and older brothers as well as through her own reading.

Chambers noted that Austen lived in a world of contradictions where English society embraced freedom of speech but often burned the books of those authors whose message they disagreed with.

“They hated the French and yet they embraced French fashion. It was a time where the British really did feel superior to everyone else,’’ Chambers said.

Chambers said that the steadfast support of her family was critical to her development as a professional writer.

Austen’s artistic apprenticeship lasted from her teenage years into her thirties. Her major novels were released from 1811 to 1816 and includes “Sense and Sensibility” (1811), “Pride and Prejudice” (1813), “Mansfield Park” (1814) and “Emma” (1816).

She wrote two additional novels, “Northanger Abbey” and “Persuasion” that were both published after her death in 1818. Austen began to write a novel called “Sanditon”, but she died before it was completed.

Her works were first published anonymously and brought her little personal fame. She received few  positive reviews during her lifetime. After the publication of her nephew’s “A Memoir of Jane Austen” in 1869 her popularity began to grow.

By the 1940s she had become widely accepted in academia as a great English writer and the emergence of a Janeite fan culture.

Trish Chambers writes and produces various historical presentations that deal with business and life situations that effect women and business professionals at various stages of their careers. She presents historical programs that include The Civil War, Black History, and women’s studies.

sm-Jane Austen Trish Chambers closeup

The Ocean County Library has many Jane Austen books, audio-books and DVDs about the life of the English author and the work she produced in the early  1800s.

The Ocean County Library has many Jane Austen books, audio-books and DVDs about the life of the English author and the work she produced in the early 1800s.

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