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First to row solo non-stop across the Pacific


On arriving in Australia.

“I kind of think it’s like childbirth because he says he’s not going to get in another boat for a while,” his wife remarked.

John Beeden rowed an average of 15 hours a day for 209 days on a 6,100-nautical-mile journey. He was alone. He is 53 years old.

December 16, 2015

Happy Birthday, Jane


Looking across the fields to St Nicholas Church, Chawton. Once Jane walked across these fields.

The women characters Jane liked best take long walks in the country.

Jane identified with Elizabeth and her hike across muddy fields in Pride and Prejudice. When Jane was a girl she loved rolling down grassy hills with her father's male students.

Perhaps in her own quiet way she was a rebel?


Jane Austen portrayed by Anne Hathaway in Becoming Jane (2007).

Jane Austen understood why happy marriages worked. Before the usual conclusion of her novels - a wedding - Jane has shown us enough married couples along the way - the Bennets, the Collinses, Admiral and Mrs Croft, the elder Musgroves, the Gardiners - to give us a fair idea of the characters who create enduring happiness, and those who don't. That's interesting to anybody who cares about human relationships, even people with no intention of marrying.

Kindness, broad-mindedness, respect for your spouse and personal self-mastery, shared core values, adventurousness, fortitude and humour - Jane suggests these are some of the keys to married happiness.

Jane received support and encouragement from her brothers, who helped her to get published. She may hold the record for books turned into movie scripts.


Image: Chawton House, Hampshire, home to Chawton House Library's collection of literature and its fellowship programme. The Elizabethan manor house once belonged to Jane Austen's brother, Edward Austen Knight.

Today Chawton House Library houses a collection of books and manuscripts by women writing from 1600 to 1830.

Raise a glass to Jane Austen.

We usually edit this post every December 16th.