Lost in Austen

13 Sep

Illustration from Pride & Prejudice

For those of you who aren’t totally obsessed with Jane Austen and her world I do apologise for this post. Yesterday I ventured out of London to the beautiful county of Hampshire to bask in the September sunshine and visit the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton. Although I have been an Austen fan for many years, it was my first time visiting the museum which I must say was fantastically maintained and well laid-out, with lots of interesting artefacts from her life – they even had a bed spread quilt that had been handmade by Jane, her sister Cassandra and their mother, cobbled together from off cuts of dress fabric. The piece de resistance though, was the small octagonal wooden table at which Jane wrote her famous novels and adorning the walls in the first floor corridor were original prints of Hugh Thomson’s 19th century illustrations for the books. Illustrated editions of Austen’s novels are still available, most notably ‘The Complete Novels’ published by Penguin and priced at £25.00 (ISBN:9781905716760) After wandering around the large cottage and marvelling at Jane’s original Wedgwood dinner service, we took one last sniff of the beautiful white roses trailing across the side of the house and headed off to Winchester and the cathedral there where Jane is buried. A kind of Austen pilgrimage. Having been to her house and paid my respects at her final resting place, I am eager all over again to dive back into her world and befriend her fantastic heroines once more. To be in the company of the Miss Dashwoods, Anne Elliot and her Captain, Emma Woodhouse & Mr Knightley and of course the sprawling Bennett family and proud Mr Darcy. If you haven’t already read Claire Tomalin’s biography of Austen then put simply, you must! I am ashamed to say that I have not read any of Austen’s lesser known novels – Lady Susan, The Watsons and the unfinished Sanditon – but will soon remedy the situation! I also intend to read the very popular ‘Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad’ by Bee Rowlatt & May Witwit published earlier this year by Penguin (ISBN: 9780141038537) For the next few weeks my head will be full of Georgian England – if anyone needs me I will be lost in Austen.

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