Picture this: Several hundred people, many in Empire gowns, buttoned boots, and bonnets pirouetting in a stately line across a large ballroom. Women are partnering women for the most part, though here and there one sees a male specimen in knee breeches, long coat, and curled wig sashaying happily amid the beribboned throng.

The event is the Regency Ball of the Jane Austen Society of North America annual general meeting, held at the Westin Hotel in Chicago in October, culminating in two days of total immersion in Austeniana. Preceding the ball was a gala banquet and costume parade down Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. When the dancing ended, interested parties retired for games of whist at the little tables set up for the purpose in the lobby of the Westin.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA), and the annual meeting featured a full… More…