Friday, 16 March 2012


Becca Hemmings, Online Giftshop Manager for The Jane Austen Centre in Bath, is my guest today with an interesting interview and a lovely Austenesque giveaway. Read through her answers to my questions, discover more about her job and her love for Jane Austen, leave your comments and e-mail address to enter the giveaway contest. For more details about the gift and the giveaway, check at the end of this post. 

Thanks for accepting answering some questions for My Jane Austen Book Club, Becca. Welcome!
My first curiosity is … What is living and working in such a lovely place as Bath like?

Thanks for having me! Last year I moved from Bath to London, but still work on the site remotely. I loved Bath for the 7 years that I lived there, and didn’t leave with ‘such happy feelings of escape’ as Jane did. Bath was a great as you always feel like you are on holiday; even walking to work through the golden buildings was a pleasure. However, I must confress I love London with its incredible history and culture!

How do you like working at the Jane Austen Centre, instead?
The Jane Austen Centre is wonderful, the staff are like family to me and, despite being in London, I still see them often.

What kind of people visit you  and where are they from?
People visit our online shop from literally all around the world! It just shows that there are Austen fans everywhere. Our low Worldwide postage means we can send our Austen treats at a good price.

Did you already love Jane Austen before starting working there, or did it come as a result later on?
I already loved Austen, which is why I was so thrilled when I got the job at the centre! My mam introduced me to her; we watched the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice together every Sunday. I was 12 and read the book straight after the series ended.

Is Jane more part of your professional life, or is she someone like … an old friend to you?
Austen is part of both, really. I have to ensure I am always supplying Austen fans with affordable, good quality gifts - which means being quite professional. At the same time she is my favourite author.

What is it that you most admire in her?
Her wit. I would love to have come up with some of her comebacks!

What is your favourite Austen novel?
This has to be Pride and Prejudice, as it was my ‘first love’. Though Persuasion comes very close as it is so romantic, but then Emma is so funny. Ah it is hard to choose!

Most charming Austen  hero?
Most charming has to be Mr Knightley. I think he is wonderful. Everyone would love him on first aqquantience (unlike Mr Darcy I suppose!)

And what about the heroine  you most sympathize with?
Definitley Anne Elliot - it must have been awful for her to have been persuaded against marrying her true love, then never forgetting him or forgiving herself. Can you imagine how hard those first few chapters would have been for her? Dear me!

What do you most like in JA’s world? 
The clothing is beautiful, and, so long as you were a lady of good fortune, the way of life would be bliss! 
Walks, sewing, reading, balls, how nice would that be?

We know that the years she spent  in Bath were not her best , but she chose to set part of Northanger Abbey and of Persuasion there. How much of her Bath can a Janeite visitor recognize nowadays?
I would say most of it! The main building are all still there; Camden Crescent, Westgate Buildings, Putney street. You can still walk along the paths of Anne and Catherine, as well as where Austen herself. When the Jane Austen Festival is on and hundreds of people dress up in Regency attire you could be in the Regency period.

And what are the places/sites which are unmissable for a Janeite?
The Jane Austen Centre (of course), 4 Sydney Place (where she wrote of seeing the fireworks in Sydeny Gardens) and St Swithin's Church, where her lovely father, George, was buried.

What is exactly your job at the Jane Austen Centre?
I run the online giftshop, which includes keeping the site up to date, sending out newsletters, posting on Twitter and Facebook and (my favourite) sourcing Austen goods that everyone would like.

So you never meet customers visiting the centre?
When I worked at the centre as a guide I would often meet with customers. It was really nice to hear positive feedback about the work we do and find out what they would like to see for sale online. Now I souly run the online giftshop.

What Austen related gifts are the most popular?
Definitley the ‘I Love Darcy’ range, the bags being the most popular. But we have a new contender - the ‘Keep Calm and Read Jane Austen’ tea towels are this month’s best seller - and we are going to extend this range in the next few months!

Where do you mostly send gadgets and books to? What countries in the world, I mean?
No.1 is here in UK, but USA is a very close second. Australia is third. We literally sell goods to Austen fans everywhere! Our low Worldwide Postage rates means everyone can enjoy a bit of Austen. Sometimes we have free worldwide postage weekends!

Have you got a very special item to recommend these days?
I would personally recommend the ‘Keep Calm and Read Jane Austen’ Tea towel - it is such a good price and excellent quality. I have mine framed so it looks like a canvas print! It always reminds me to pick up an Austen novel before I venture out into the modern world :-)

That’s all Becca. Thank you very much for being my guest. Good luck and great success with your job.
Thanks very much, I have enjoyed answering your questions!

Becca Hemmings has granted the readers of My Jane Austen Book Club the chance to win a Keep Calm and Read Jane Austen’ Tea towel . Have a look at the lovely gift  HERE, then leave your comment and your e-mail address in order to be entered in the giveaway contest. The name of the winner will be announced on March 23rd. This giveaway is open internationally.


Monica said...

I love this JA Tea towel!
I also hope to visit the JA centre in Bath next summer. I can't wait...


Krista said...

Super Cute Tea Towel. Love it!


jt said...

The tea towel is lovely and I had admired it already on your website. (I visit there often and receive the newsletters!) I hope to visit the center someday!!! That would be wonderful!

Your interview was quite interesting and I enjoyed learning more about you as I have seen your name from the emails.

Thanks for the giveaway.

jt said...

Forgot my email address.

Thanks, Maria!

Anonymous said...

I saw that tea towel in the newsletter I receive and was so tempted to buy it!

Nice interview and the perfect giveaway. Thanks.


Linda said...

Oh my! What an exciting giveaway. Just recently I saw a really neat video about the background of the three WWII posters, inc. Keep Calm. I would love to win this tea towel. Thanks.

Helen said...

Another great interview Maria! Saw these tea towels on FB...fabulous! Thanks for making it international!

Best wishes, Helen

helen at hancock dot id dot au

lunarossa said...

Great interview! I'd been to Bath many times but I only visited the Jane Austen Centre last year. My daughter and I loved the costumes above all and a lovely lady gave us a very lively introductory speech about JA and her life in Bath. We also had a tasty afternoon tea in the tea shop under the 'vigil' eyes of Mr Darcy's (aka Colin Firth)portrait.
Ciao. A.xx

Michelle said...

Love the idea of framing the tea towel. Good luck to everyone who enters.

Malvina Beatrice said...

I have a bible collection of Jane Austen's book and I wish for that towel. It's amazing.


Heather M. said...

Wonderful interview, as always! Makes me want to add Bath and the Jane Austen Center to my list of things to see when I plan my big UK trip. Thanks!


Chiara said...

The towel is super cute, i hope to win it! A wider range of these Keep Calm products could be a bestseller! Maybe something like "keep calm and kiss Mr Darcy" :D my email is: :)

Faith Hope Cherrytea said...

loved this interview! thank you !
and wondering, if this was a written response from Becca, she's made a great pun when saying "Now I souly run the online giftshop."!!
how good to know that as she 'solely' runs it, she's running it 'souly'!!


HaPpY UK Mother's Day!

Andrea Staten said...

That looks like it was so much fun! And the tea towel is adorable. :)

BeckyC said...

Wonderful post! And what a fun giveaway!
cherringtonmb at sbcglobal dot net

Kaitlin Saunders said...

Lovely interview! Would love the towel. :)

julienne said...

lovely shop! I'd like to have an online shop too.

Kathleen Rogers said...

Nice interview and great shop! I love the idea of framing the tea towel!
I guess that means I need to buy one and win the other! :)

Have a tea-rific day!

Patricia F. said...
I love the tea towel!
Ive visited Bath and would love to work in GB someday

mimi the zookeeper - said...

i have had the lovely pleasure of conversing with becca several times (we share our love of colin firth as the best mr. darcy!).

she is a pleasure, has always been the most helpful, and i hope someday to travel again to the u.k. and meet her in person.

keep calm....carry on :)

Danielle said...

I love that towel! It would look perfect in my office. The more Jane Austen things I find the more my office transforms into my own little museum.


maria said...

A very nice interview and a wonderful giveaway! I would love to go to this beautiful centre but for the moment I would like to win this lovely tea towel!

ElaineCharton said...

Lovely tea towel. After reafing your interview I am determined to get to England and Bath.

Gisele Alv said...

OMG!! That's so beautiful!! I would kill for that towel -well not kill but pretty close- haha! Now seriously I would love to have a towel like this one!! :D I'm on my way to stalk this webside, and find about shipping! T___T Thanks for the giveaway!!


Kelli H. said...

Lovely interview and beautiful towel! I would love to win this! Thanks for the giveaway!=)

Lúthien84 said...

Love the interview between Becca and Maria. Please enter my name into the drawing. I would love to get it.


Felicia said...

Great interview! I'm in awe, I'd love to work on a daily basis on all things Austen! One of these day's I'll get to Bath and the Centre, for now, I visit the website and wish!


felicialso @gmail .com

Marie Burton said...

What an adorable piece for my reading room! I must say it would like quaint in there. Thanks for spotlighting Becca, I shall have to peruse the shoppe!
marieburton2004 at yahoo dot com

Thank you for the giveaway!

Marie Burton said...

LOL~~ I just saw the end date.. no worries =) I will have to see how much the shipping is!