Austen ancestor chart's home history

Friday 15th December 2017 8:00 am
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STATELY home Chawton House is among travel website Trip Advisor’s favourite destinations these days.

But once it was simply a family home, inherited by Jane Austen’s brother Edward Knight from his rich adoptive parents. It was lived in by generations of the Knight family until the 1980s.

Now, Jane Austen’s fifth great-niece, Caroline Jane Knight, has written about her experiences growing up in the house which, despite its dilapidated state, offered a secure home to various family members. Appealing family photographs accompany the text.

Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage reveals the fun she had, along with other youngsters, living in the Tudor house, with its long passages, spacious rooms and numerous staircases, and to have the benefit of such an large estate in which to roam about.

The layout and ‘personality’ of the house shine through in the book, as everyday life and the traditions and seasonal rituals enjoyed by the family are described, skilfully interwoven with facts about Jane Austen, her life and times and her books.

Eventually the reader shares with the author the pain of losing her home and the subsequent crisis of confidence and direction, now happily resolved.

Caroline’s charity, The Jane Austen Literacy Foundation, which supports literacy initiatives in disadvantaged areas of the world, will benefit from the sales of the book, which is strongly recommended for anybody who lives locally, and/or has an interest in Jane Austen.

Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage is available from Chawton House and Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton.

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