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Inspiring Jane: University of Southampton marks 200 years since Jane Austen found her ‘spiritual home’

Published: 29 June 2009
Manuscript (c. 1791, c.1800)

This July, Music staff and students are joining Southampton colleagues to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s arrival at Chawton House, which inspired some of her most famous novels.

Jane’s move to Chawton was a pivotal moment for her. Although she’d written before her arrival, it was having an established home on the estate which sparked her most prolific period of writing,” comments lecturer in English and academic advisor to Chawton, Dr Gillian Dow. “One might say that this was her ‘spiritual home’, the place where she was at her most creative.

Jane Austen wrote and revised some of her most famous works while living in a cottage in the village of Chawton in Hampshire and visiting the Chawton House Estate, owned by her brother. Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion were all composed during this period, while Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility were revised.

Austen has become a worldwide phenomenon and on 9 July hundreds of scholars and enthusiasts from as far a field as Japan, North America and Sweden will converge on Chawton House Library for the conference ‘New Directions in Austen Studies’.

We are regularly contacted by Jane Austen societies far and wide; Buenos Aires in Argentina, Australia, from almost all continents in the world. Her popularity knows no bounds,” says Stephen Lawrence, Chief Executive Officer at Chawton.

The conference will examine a range of diverse topics such as; why Jane Austen has become such a global icon; how her writing fits with Japanese and other global literature; and what effect, if any, war had on her writing.

The event will conclude with a concert, conceived of by Southampton PhD student Samantha Carrasco, featuring music from albums copied by Jane Austen and members of her family, performed by Southampton University Professor of Music David Owen Norris and soprano Amanda Pitt. The notebooks are at the centre of a multi-year research project led by Professor Jeanice Brooks.

Papers will be given by a wide variety of eighteenth-century specialists from the Southampton Centre for Eighteenth-Century studies in Humanities, including Dr Stephen Bygrave, Professor Emma Clery, and PhD student Danielle Grover from English and Dr Glenda Leeming from Modern Languages.

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