Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Jane Austen House Museum, Chawton

I had a wonderful day at the start of June, giving a talk at the Jane Austen House Museum. The house is in the beautiful village of Chawton set deep in the English countryside and it was Jane's home for the last eight years of her life. She wrote Persuasion, Mansfield Park and Emma whilst living there, and she also revised her three other major works -  Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Northanger Abbey - there.

The atmosphere of the house is amazing. Even standing outside I am immediately reminded of Emma: "A mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing, and can see nothing that does not answer." Once inside, the atmosphere intensifies. For me, the highlight is the table at which she wrote:

I gave the talk in the new lecture hall, which is a light and airy building in keeping with the style of the house. It's in the garden and provides the setting for talks, concerts and other Austen-related activities. There is always something going on there and if you're planning a visit, then it's a good idea to see what events might be on at the time. You can find a list of events here The Regency Butler talk looks particularly useful for Regency authors, and don't miss Victoria Connelly's talk on 9th July!

I was surprised to see so many people there at my talk and had a lovely time, chatting about my Austen heroes' diaries and my love for Jane Austen. I signed books afterwards - the museum has a lovely shop - and thoroughly enjoyed my afternoon. I'm sure you will love it if you haven't been.The staff are very friendly and very knowledgeable, and their genuine love for Austen shines through.

Amanda Grange

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