Anatomy of a Janeite: Do You Fit the Profile?

In 2008, JASNA put together a survey of the “typical” Janeite. I was wondering how many items match with my viewers/readers.

Part 1: Participant Demographics. The first half of the survey focused on the survey participant. What portrait emerges from these responses?

• Gender: 96% Female; 4 % Male
Age: 33% age 1-29; 35% age 30-49; 32% age 50+ (with a median age of 40) There were 335 teenagers and 215 respondents aged 70 or over.
Nationality: 90% from English-speaking countries
• 67% U.S.; 6% Canada; 16% U.K, Australia, New Zealand & Ireland (combined)
Occupation: 75% of Janeites are typically working women/men. The top ten career fields are education, business administration (manager/HR/secretary, etc.), business services/worker/retail, library/archivist, finance, science/engineering, writing/publishing, medical, arts, law and IT. (More than one-third are/have been teachers or librarians.)
Education: 81% over the age of 20 have a 4-year (or higher) college degree; almost half have achieved a master’s (33%) or a doctorate (12%). Surprisingly, 71% did not major in English/Literature.
Religious: 41% said they were religious; 38% not religious.
Politics: Janeites are more likely to view themselves as liberal (55%) than conservative (25%), and on the topic of feminism, to have a favorable (67%) rather than unfavorable (11%) opinion.
Hobbies: More than 50% involved in reading (98%); watching movies (80%); listening to music (72%); attending theater/concerts (61%); walking/yoga/other exercise (60%); visiting museums (60%); and traveling (56% to other countries; 54% within own country).
Traveling: 47% of all respondents have visited Austen sites in England, including 40% of U.S. respondents and 53% of Canadians. More than half the respondents have visited Western Europe (69%), England/Wales/Scotland (68%) or traveled extensively in the U.S. (65%) and Canada (52%). Many have also been to Mexico and the Caribbean. The least-visited area from the survey list was India (4%), followed by Russia (7%), and China (8%).
Favorite Afternoon Drink: 63% tea; 46 % coffee
Pets: tabbies rule – 58% of respondents have pets, with cats at 36% and dogs at 30%
Reading: 86% read at least 2 books per month; 33% read five or more per month
Preferred Genre (non-Austen, of course): 29% mystery; 15% historical fiction
Favorite Authors (not Jane Austen): Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, Mrs. Gaskell, J.K. Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkien, William Shakespeare, Anthony Trollope, Georgette Heyer, and Agatha Christie.
Tech Savvy: 57% described themselves as tech smart; 1% as clueless

Part 2: Janeite Land. The second half of the survey looked into the participant’s relationship to Jane Austen and her work.

Age When You Discovered Jane Austen: over 50% before age 17; 13% younger than age 12
How Often Do You Read Austen Novels? 33% read 3+ per year; 11% read all six every year
Favorite Austen Book: 53% Pride and Prejudice; 28 % Persuasion; 7% Emma; 5% Sense and Sensibility; 4% Mansfield Park; 4% Northanger Abbey.
Favorite Heroine: 58% Elizabeth Bennet; 24% Anne Elliot; 7% Elinor Dashwood; 5% Emma Woodhouse; 3% Fanny Price; 2% Catherine Moreland; 1% Marianne Dashwood
Favorite Hero: 51% Fitzwilliam Darcy; 17% Frederick Wentworth; 14% Mr. Knightley; 10% Henry Tilney; 5% Colonel Brandon; 1% Edward Ferrars; 1% Edmund Bertram [Interestingly, males are a good bit less likely to choose Darcy as their favorite hero. The least-liked hero by some measure is Edmund Bertram (40%).]
Favorite Bad Boy: 33% Wickham; 28% Willoughby; 16% Henry Crawford; 10% Frank Churchill; 7% William Elliot; 6% General Tilney
Worst Parents: 54% Sir Walter Elliot; 16% Mr. & Mrs. Price; 15% Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram
Four Comic Characters Who Delight Us: 74% Mrs. Bennet; 70% Mr. Collins; 56% Admiral Croft; 50% Mrs. Bates

For the complete results and analysis, please go to JASNA Persuasion On-Line sources.

39 Responses to Anatomy of a Janeite: Do You Fit the Profile?

  1. Most of the standards in the large picture would not apply to me, at least for technical reasons, but I would be happy to live in the 18th century, but for the whole plumbing thing!

  2. I really enjoyed reading this, Regina! It quantifies all manner of things we’ve guessed already, but there were plenty of surprises along the way. Sometimes stats can be great fun!

  3. I didn’t “discover” JA until the 1995 movie was released. Loved Jane Eyre and re-read that many times before finding P&P. I didn’t participate in the survey, and am conservative and Christian. Used an outhouse many time and our church had one when I was very young…but my grandfather in Mississippi kept a “pee” can under the bed so at night in cold or stormy weather one didn’t have to go outside. I love my coffee but drink Green tea many times due to its benefits. Our ancestry is mostly Anglo Saxon but never had a DNA test. My aunt had her side traced professionally but that doesn’t take into account my father’s side. Read all those authors except Anthony Trollope and was astonished at how prolific he was when I looked him up. Very interesting survey which I am going to send a copy of to my daughters and daughter-in-law as I think they are of the opinion that we are all of the “older generation”.

  4. I think this survey just reiterates how Jane Austen has appeal across the demographics. We’re certainly more than only female, librarian, English major, tea drinker, classical music lover, NPR listener—with cats!!

    • I certainly do not fit all those parameters, Ginna. Is it not nice to consider how Austen reaches many. I have several male friends who are “closet” Austen readers. LOL!

  5. If there is a new survey – that one having been done in 2008 – I think they should add questions about villains. Our local grocery store put up a cardboard cutout of their manager, a Mr George Wickham. I of course sought him out. He was really nice and very chatty. He said all the Jane Austen fans want to talk to him, and they tended to come in all sizes and ages from Kindergarten to quite an old age. I don’t see either him or the cutout at that store any more, but I do not believe he’s left town to flee debts and compromised tradespeople’s daughters. Lydia would not find him dashing enough to leave Brighton with him, either – he’s middle-aged and balding, but has a kind voice and a warm smile. No red military coat but black trousers and a white shirt. No horse either. He might do for Mary Bennet, but she’d be lucky to get him.

    • I agree. A new survey is required. I have been an Austen fan since age 12, but I was not always “fanatical” about all things Austen. My responses would depend upon my age at the time of the survey.
      I love your story of “Mr. Wickham,” the grocer. Fortunately, the man was amicable.

  6. First of all, I didn’t take the survey. But I am a very fervent advocate for Jane Austen. I became a follower in my seventies and am only conservative about some things. I have strong Christian values. I believe Jane has done much for the position of women in society and I am thankful for it. When I have a bad day. I have an ice cream sandwich and watch a Jane Austen movie. It is therapy for me. I quote lines from her novels (yes, the actual books) without looking to see if it is on the list of Austenquotes. I live in North Carolina, and I have visited Jane Austen’s England, my most enjoyable trip abroad. Both Tennyson and myself stood on the Cobb in Lyme and saw where Louisa Musgrove fell.

  7. That was fascinating, I don’t much fit the profile. I’m afraid I used the outhouse too much, having spent much of my life in the orchards and farm fields. I do so really love my indoor plumbing and A/C, living in the desert the A/C is a necessity. I find it wonderful that our love of Jane Austen can unite such a diverse group of people as we have here. thanks for everything

    • It is grand, is it not, Carmalee. I was once at a book signing in another state, and this young girl came through the door to the Books-a-Million. She had piercing and tattoos and purple hair, and no one thought she would even look at a 67 year old WASP. Yet, we made eye contact, and she rushed to the table to tell me she had read “ALL” my books. We certainly were as different as could be, but we both knew a love of Austen.

  8. I fit quite a lot of the demographics. I am conservative, though, and do not consider myself a feminist at all, nor do I really have a favorite non-JAFF author. The closest I have is Frank Peretti. And I love too many JAFF authors to single out just one. Oh, and I don’t do outdoor plumbing unless in case of extreme emergency (like if I am ever again stuck in 4 hours of traffic to attend a NASCAR race–one should always stop at the previous exit to the track to take care of one’s business), so I would not want to do without a hot shower and a flush toilet. A/C is rather important too. 😉 I loved this article, Regina! Thanks for sharing it!

    • Being raised in the South, I knew my fair share of outhouses as I was growing up. I could possible tolerate those, but there are other conveniences I would have difficulty doing without.

  9. I am not really within the demographics, but then I’m not a typical janeite either. But this is really interesting and even when I love Regency stories and movies I would not really like to live in that time. Thanks for the post.

  10. While I only fit about 1/2 of your statistics, I DO still have an actively used outhouse! I don’t think the outdoor plumbing would bother me as much as no A/C — although putting your shoes on in the middle of the night to go out to the privy in the middle of a blizzard or during 100+ temps would not be my idea of fun either.

    • I cannot image the summer heat while wearing the full Regency gown, corset, etc. I am also not one to like a buggy summer. I am one of those people every mosquito in a 50 mile radius claims as dinner. LOL!

  11. Very enlightening Regina, as always with your posts. While I do see myself in those statistics, I am not in the majority which surprises me! 🙂 I suppose we all think that most Janeites are just like us!

    • We most certainly do make that assumption, Brenda. I did a DNA test on to discover “my roots.” 99.7% of my ancestors came from England, Scotland (not the upper Highlands), Ireland (from Dublin eastward), and the western part of Europe. Needless to say, the rest of the world is not like me. I think it is telling that the majority of the Janeites were from the U.S., not the U.K.

      • Gayle and I are English-Scots-Irish, too. Since we live fairly close to each other, I suppose the area in which we live might have been heavily populated by those people groups who then intermarried.

        • I found the DNA results fascinating. I knew we had Germanic roots for my grandfather’s surname was “Miser.” I always heard there was a bit of Cherokee in the family, but not according to the test. gave me a map that displayed the ancestral roots. It was if I took a large glass tumbler and placed it over England and drew a circle. I traced the Scottish line somewhat, but the others.

  12. I see that this survey was taken in 2008. I wonder how much of that has changed today. The U.S. has changed drastically during the past seven years, and I would imagine that people have changed as well.

    I do fit many of the parameters, though I’m conservative; I haven’t traveled outside the U.S. except to Canada, the Caribbean, and Japan; I prefer dogs to cats; and I drink my afternoon tea in ice.

    Interesting post!

    • I am in North Carolina, Caryl. We have had nearly a month of 90+ degrees. To quote the Wicked Witch of the West, “I’m melting!” Without the A/C, I would be a puddle of water on the floor. LOL!

  13. Quite interesting stats, though I didn’t find Jane until late in life and now I’m obsessed! Love the pic with all the sayings too. Thank Regina for a great post.

  14. I enjoyed the overview. I am within the demographics as I am certain we all are. Loved the picture with the sayings and agree with Jen Red that the indoor plumbing saying had me chuckling. Thank you for sharing.

  15. Interesting overview. I love the picture with the sayings and had to chuckle when I read the one about indoor plumbing. So true. ~Jen Red

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