Pretty much every romance reader and writer I’ve ever met has read at least one of Jane Austen’s books (or seen the movies/TV shows) and every one has their own opinion of them. I read most of them years ago and loved them (on the whole 😉 ), she had a sharp wit and a keen take on societal mores of the time.
I know little about her life, though, and am always interested in finding out people’s backstory (yeah, okay, I’m nosy!!), so on a recent flying visit to England I took a trip with my sister to the Jane Austen Museum in Chawton. Jane lived there from 1809 to 1817, just before she died at the young age of 41 of an unspecified illness (although researchers in the 1960s think it may have been a form of lymphoma). She wrote Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Emma, Persuasion and Mansfield Park here.
The house belonged to her brother and she lived in it with her mother and beloved sister, Cassandra while her brother lived a short distance away on the Chawton Estate that he inherited from a wealthy family that adopted him (strange but true!). Her bedroom was the one with the window with closed blinds, middle right! It was so cool to walk where she’d walked, and wander round the garden in her footsteps.
Thank God for computers! I would not like to do my daily words using a quill like Jane did.
I love using fabrics and yarns and have made my own quilt, but it was nothing as grand as the one Jane, her sister and her mother made!
Jane’s garden wasn’t extensive but it was well used for growing food, flowers and plants for many medicinal and other uses…
The neighbours – look at the thatch owl art!
It was wonderful to slip back a couple of centuries for a few hours. Chawton is in the middle of nowhere, a beautiful village of thatched houses, a pub and a tea shop. I wonder what she’d think of our world? I’m sure she’d be happy to have a proper English ‘tea’ and prosecco!
Are you a Jane fan? Do you like to visit famous people’s houses? If so, where have you visited and what did you think?
Louisa George is an award winning author of books with humour and heart.
RITA finalist. Allergic to housework. Zumba addict. Visit her website for a complete list of her novels, which includes women’s fiction, contemporary romance and medical romances.