While many people are familiar with the timeless story of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, relatively little focus has been placed on the characters in that beloved Jane Austen story who stoked the house fireplaces and washed the masses of clothing.
In Jo Baker’s newest novel, Longbourn, some of the most familiar characters in the Western canon, those of Pride and Prejudice, take a backseat to the servants of the Bennet household. Hailed by the New York Times as “delightfully audacious,” this fictionalized tale in the vein of Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey gives readers a “sobering look at the underside—or the practical side—of daily life circa 1812.” Longbourn has been named a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, and is currently being adapted into a Focus Features film.
Transitioning from a childhood spent making minuscule books to degrees in English Literature at Oxford and Irish Writing at Queen’s University in Belfast, Baker says that she writes to clear her head and make sense of herself in the world. Whatever she’s doing, she’s doing it right: Baker’s writing has been described by Kirkus as “immediate, poignant, and rarely predictable.”
Pre-event dining: Enjoy a special two- or three-course British-themed dinner in the Founders Room. Seating will be from 5:30–6:30 p.m. Entrée selections include beer-battered fish and chips, caramelized onion and goat cheese tart, and roast sirloin of beef with Yorkshire pudding. Dinner will include one alcoholic beverage.