Her novels still influence movies, television, books and, most importantly, people’s lives; so—nearly 200 years after she wrote her last story—Mentor Public Library is welcoming everyone to meet Jane Austen this autumn.
The library is hosting a series of programs dedicated to Austen this September and October. Called Austen in Autumn, the event is designed to appeal to both dedicated Janeites and those who may not yet be familiar with the writer’s work and influence.
“What makes Austen different than almost any other writer is her continued impact,” said Amanda Densmore, the manager of MPL’s Reference Department. “Most people recognize Austen’s influence in Ang Lee’s Sense & Sensibility or BBC’s Pride & Prejudice or even that the movie Clueless is a remake of her novel, Emma. But when you read a Bridget Jones book or watch Friends, Austen’s influence is there too. If Austen didn’t invent the romantic-comedy genre, she’s still one of its greatest practitioners.”
During Austen in Autumn, the library will give away free copies of Austen’s posthumously published masterpiece Persuasion at all of its branches, as well as other locations throughout the city. These books need not be returned and are yours to keep forever.
Adults can also pick up a copy of Persuasion during MPL’s Austen in Autumn Kickoff Party on Thursday evening, Sept. 17, at Little Mountain Brewing Company. Little Mountain is even releasing a special beer for the event, Austentatious IPA.
Additionally, Mentor Library has teamed with the Great Lakes Mall Atlas Cinemas in Mentor for free screenings of four films that all used Austen’s work as inspiration. Each of the screenings will begin at 7 p.m. on their respective Thursday and are open to everyone.
The films include Persuasion on Sept. 24, Clueless on Oct. 1, Sense and Sensibility on Oct. 8 and Bride and Prejudice on Oct. 15. The screenings are free because of a grant from the Mentor Arts Commission.
The Jane Austen film series will also provide an opportunity for local filmmakers to demonstrate their craft. The library is holding a short-film contest along with Austen in Autumn. Anyone can submit a short film (no longer than five minutes) that has been influenced by Austen’s work. The winners of the contest will receive fun Austen-themed prizes, but all contestants can see their work on the big screen during the free screenings.
Meanwhile, Mentor Library will host several programs that illumine both Austen and the times in which she lived. Debra Jane Miller will perform as Austen on Saturday, Sept. 19, at the library. She’ll talk about Austen’s life and work as the writer herself saw it.
The Geauga Lyric Theater will have a special reprise of its rendition of Pride & Prejudice as part of Austen in Autumn. They will perform vignettes from the play in the library’s Main Branch on Tuesday, Oct. 13.
That includes a Pride and Prejudice and Zombies party for teens on Oct. 12. Teens can practice their skulking and celebrate Halloween a little early when they party like the undead.
For more information on Austen in Autumn, visit www.mentorpl.org/austen.
Finally, Mentor Public Library would like to thank the generous financial support of The Friends of the Mentor Public Library, Mentor Community Arts Commission, Ohio Arts Council and Ohio Humanities Council for making Austen in Autumn possible, as well as the following organizations for providing time and resources to make Austen in Autumn the best it can be: Atlas Cinema; the City of Mentor; Cleveland Candle Company; Geauga County Ohio Bee Keepers; Geauga Lyric Theater Guild; Jakprints; Little Mountain Brewing Company; Local Tavern; Redhawk Grill; Sisters Tea Room; and Ten 10 Design.