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The University of Southampton

Bestselling author heads up 2006 Chawton lecture series

Published: 18 January 2006

Novelist Sarah Waters, bestselling author of Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith, will be reading excerpts from her eagerly-anticipated new novel The Night Watch at Chawton House Library later this year as part of the Library's 2006 lecture programme.

The lectures have been organised by Chawton House Library's Centre for the Study of Early English Women's Writing and the University of Southampton.

Chawton House is best-known for its connections with Jane Austen, whose brother Edward once owned the house. It is now home to one of the world's leading centres for the study of the lives and works of women writing in English before 1830. The Library's main aim is to promote and facilitate study in the field of early women's writing.

Other highlights of the series are BBC Four Controller, Janice Hadlow, speaking about the reputation of King George III's consort Queen Charlotte in February and Valérie Cossy of the University of Lausanne, on Jane Austen in France and Switzerland - which focuses on early translations of the beloved author's novels. Two University of Southampton experts from the School of Humanities are also due to give lectures. In April, literary critic Stephen Bygrave will talk about education in the 1750s and in May historian John Oldfield will talk about Hampshire life in the late eighteenth century.

The series begins on Tuesday 24 January with a lecture about women and education in the 19th century by historian Christina de Ballaigue of Merton College, Oxford.

Dr Gillian Dow, Chawton Postdoctoral Research fellow at the University of Southampton and organiser of the lecture series, said: "I am very excited about this year's lecture series, not least because we have some great speakers lined up. There is also a good balance between academic and popular lectures, and I hope there really will be something for everyone."

In 1999, the University of Southampton and Chawton House Library formed an academic partnership that now extends to English, History and Music within the School of Humanities, the Hartley Library, the Winchester School of Art, and the Intelligence, Agents, Multi-Media Group in Electronics and Computer Science. At Southampton, the partnership is led by Dr Gillian Dow and Emma Clery, Professor of Eighteenth-Century Literature.

Full details of the lecture series can be found at All lectures begin at 7pm and tickets cost £12.50 (£8.50 Friends and full-time students). For more information and to book, contact Kathy Quinn at Chawton House on 01420 541010 or email

Related Staff Member

Notes for editors

  1. A digital image of Chawton House is available from Media Relations on request.
  2. Lectures confirmed to date for the 2006 Chawton House Library lecture series are as follows:

    Tuesday 24 January
    Schoolgirls, Schoolmistresses and the French Exchange
    Christina de Bellaigue, Historian, Merton College, Oxford University

    Thursday 23 February
    A Sour and Disagreeable Woman? Queen Charlotte's Reputation Revised
    Janice Hadlow, Controller, BBC Four

    Wednesday 8 March
    Jane Austen in France and Switzerland
    Valérie Cossy, Literary Critic, University of Lausanne

    Wednesday 26 April
    Hercules and a Big Stick: Teachers and Pupils circa 1750
    Stephen Bygrave, Literary Critic, University of Southampton

    Wednesday 3 May
    Hampshire Life in the late Eighteenth Century
    John Oldfield, Historian, University of Southampton

    Wednesday 14 June
    A reading of selected passages from her works
    Sarah Waters, bestselling author of Tipping the Velvet, Affinity and Fingersmith
  3. Chawton House is the Grade II listed Elizabethan manor house in the village of Chawton near Alton in Hampshire which belonged to Jane Austen's brother, Edward Austen Knight. The house, gardens and parkland, which would have been frequently visited by Jane Austen, have undergone ten years of sensitive restoration to establish a Library and Centre for the Study of Early English Women's Writing from 1600-1830. A major contributor to the project has been American businesswoman Sandy Lerner, through her charitable foundation the Leonard X. Bosack and Bette M. Kruger Charitable Foundation.
  4. The University of Southampton is one of the UK's top 10 research universities, with a global reputation for excellence in both teaching and research. With first-rate opportunities and facilities across a wide range of subjects in science and engineering, health, arts and humanities, the University has around 20,000 students and 5000 staff at its campuses in Southampton and Winchester. Its annual turnover is in the region of £274 million.
    Southampton is recognised internationally for its leading-edge research in engineering, science, computer science and medicine, and for its strong enterprise agenda. It is home to world-leading research centres, including the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton; the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research; the Optoelectronics Research Centre; the Textile Conservation Centre; the Centre for the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease; and the Mountbatten Centre for International Studies.
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