Jane Austen

On our last day in England in the spring of 2012, just a few hours before boarding the Queen Mary 2 for our trip home, we stopped to visit Jane Austen’s house in a little country town called Chawton. I can’t say we saved the best for last, because everything we saw was “best.”  But this house was wonderful and better than I ever imagined it could be.  It’s in Hampshire, centrally located in the south of  England (very close to Southampton) — you can see it on the map on page six of my book chronicling this magical trip called   A FINE ROMANCE.

First off, you have to know how this quiet neighborhood sounded this day!  The only sound missing is “my-toe-hurts-bet-tee” the nature national anthem of England, but there were wood pigeons cooing liltingly from every branch!

This is the 17th century house where Jane Austen did some of her most important work.  She lived here from 1809 to 1817, and published four novels during that time, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Mansfield Park.

How beautiful!  Let’s go find a parking space!

After parking, we walked for a little bit through the leafy old neighborhood and something interesting happened.  I took a picture of this little Jack Russell in a window of the house across the street from Jane’s and posted it here on the blog.  Later, after we returned home, I received an email from the owner of this house!  Her name is Mary and the dog’s name is Basil!  Mary had just happened upon our blog.  Isn’t that amazing? What a small world!  She’s actually written a cute children’s book about Basil which she sent to me . . .

 Many of the homes in Chawton have thatched roofs like Mary’s.  It’s a darling town ~ and we only had one afternoon. I wish we’d saved more time for this ~ there’s a lot of wonderfulness to see here.  Keep that in mind for when you go and have at least one full day.

There are many rose-covered cottages and lots of old brick . . .

 This is the pub across the street from Jane’s house . . . in case you’d like a bite when you get done, or a peah ci-da. In case?  Don’t you love the flower boxes?

On the corner, directly across from the house, you can stop for tea in this wonderful tea room called “Cassandra’s Cup” — named for both Jane’s beloved sister and her mother (Her mother was Cassandra Leigh Austen — gorgeous name).  I’ve decided if I ever have a lamb in this lifetime, I will name it Cassandra.

So here we go, are you ready?  I was so excited to be here, I had to remind myself not to run someone over, be a calm, quiet, mannerly American which was actually quite easy since that’s just how we are.

Run mad as often as you chuse, but do not faint.   Jane Austen

We had to go into the gift shop to get our tickets.  My first question:  “Can I take pictures inside the house?”  (Not every house we visited allows photography. I really didn’t expect them to say yes;  but I was hoping and praying.)  And then, I heard the magic words, “Yes, You Can!”  I can?  Oh Boy.  Let’s go!

There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart. ♥ Jane Austen

Jane was born in 1775, during the time of King George the III; she was the seventh of eight children in a close family.  Her only sister, Cassandra, was her best friend for life.  She began writing Pride and Prejudice when she was twenty-one, but it was in Chawton House at this shockingly small table that she finished it, here in the breakfast room in front of a sunny window where she wrote and revised her greatest stories.

At this very table.  Her books came right out of her brain, through her hand, onto the paper, one letter at a time. There was no Encyclopedia Britannica at the time, no complete dictionary, no way to do research (no Google!), and very few other novels in existence.  She wrote originally, in the “realistic” style and  made it all up from her own creative, opinionated, witty heart.

“Everything united in her, good understanding, correct opinions, knowledge of the world, and a warm heart.” Jane Austen

We were invited to try writing the way Jane did . . . with a feather quill pen and ink.  They set everything on a table in the kitchen . . . isn’t that fun?   And you can see everyone wanted to give it a try.

 I loved it! But it was much more difficult than I thought it would be.  I can’t imagine writing a whole book with a feather pen!  I bought a feather and ink in the gift shop so I could write in our journal when I got home.  You can see what I did on page 235 of A FINE ROMANCE (the diary I wrote when we were in England).  How Jane did whole books this way I will never know.  There could not have been much “rewriting,” because you have to dip the quill in the ink about every two or three letters or it runs dry!  (That may not be true; we have to take into consideration that I was probably doing it wrong.)  You have to blot it too, or your arm will drag through and smear it.  It’s a slow process, but it’s what she knew. That’s how it is with book writing, no matter what you have to do, you just keep going every day until it’s done, and then, voila, one miracle of a day you have a book!  Where there’s a will, there’s a way, goose feather or not.

Before I give you details of the house, let me show you just how charming this chock-full-of-history cottage is.  This is the bedroom that Jane shared with her sister Cassandra.  I like the wallpaper, the little off-center painted fireplace, the mantle with flowers, the simple cupboards, the beautiful old floors . . .  seeing the same view from the windows that Jane and Cassandra had seen.

And this bed. This is a canopy tent bed of the period. Where they didn’t have the exact furniture owned by the Austen family, they used period pieces so we could know what things would have looked like.  Love this bed!  I would like to be twelve years old and have this bed!

 There are bouquets of cut flowers from the garden all over the house; on mantels and window ledges . . . you feel like someone really lives here . . . for some reason, this stairway is the part of the house where I could most feel the presence of Jane Austen.  She must have climbed these stairs thousands of times, her skirts brushing over the wooden steps as she carried her candle up or down them, her shadow would dance on the walls.

From the house you can look across the street to Cassandra’s Tea Room, how convenient to have a tea room so close by!

There are fireplaces in every room, some of them very tiny like this one.  Isn’t it cute?  Wouldn’t you like to warm your feet by this fire? And the wallpaper is perfect.

They’ve put little cards on or next to everything, so you can know what you’re looking at . . .

It’s a house to go slow in, you can feel the respect and reverence from the people who are there as they quietly read everything and pull it all into their hearts for the memory.  One girl came bounding into the room I was in, our eyes met, our shoulders went up, we sighed and shook our heads at how happy we were.  Joy swirled around the room, over the wooden floors, up the walls and hovered above us as a presence.  Neither of us said a word, we just moved on, the experience was perfectly shared without speech.

The people who run the Museum have made it so nice for everyone; it’s all here for the savoring . . .

There are lots of glass cases with personal things belonging to Jane and to her family.

Gorgeous 200+ year old bracelet owned by Jane . . .Wouldn’t you love to have this bracelet?  Look at the detail.  Perfect for a smart, stylish, interesting, funny, flirtatious girl who loved to dance.

She seemed to have the happy gene. 

Another adorable fireplace . . . and lovely period dress . . .

This is not the piano belonging to Jane, but it could have been, and so gorgeous, hand-painted.  The music on the piano was Air Suisse. Perfect!

All the wallpaper you see is Laura Ashley which is very appropriate as many of Laura Ashley’s designs were inspired by antique papers and fabric she saw while visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, maybe even originals from this house.  Wallpaper, something else that adds warmth and charm to the rooms.

This is a fragment of the original wallpaper they found in the house . . . very pretty too, light and clean just like the ones they’ve chosen for the rooms.

This quilt was made by Jane, Cassandra and their mother.  Jane Austen‘s  stories capture the essence of her time.  If you’d like to go back in time, reading Jane Austen is a very easy way to do it.   In the last two centuries, her books have rarely been out of print! She died very young, at age 41, in her beloved sister Cassandra’s arms.

The house has lots of homemade touches such as these embroideries…

In every case, Jane said it like she saw it.  This was on the dining table.

Here’s the bakehouse … and next to it is their little donkey carriage . . . imagine the smell of a crusty loaf of fresh bread coming from that oven all steamy hot.  Please pass the freshly churned butter.  Jam?  Oh yes, thank you, I would love some. Let’s take it to the garden.

The kitchen!  I could feel very at home in here!  If someone would teach me how to work that stove, it would be Hot Milk Cake for everyone!

Little details like this jar of cut herbs from the garden make it feel homey, like you could move right in!

And the garden!  With benches and lawns to sit and stay in, bees buzzing, butterflies floating by, birds singing.  Jane and her family grew everything they needed in their cottage garden, vegetables, herbs, and flowers; Cassandra kept bees so they made their own honey.  I would really love to taste that honey.

Their favorite flowers were “sweet williams, columbines, peonies, pinks and laburnums” … they also grew “gooseberries, raspberries and currants” … they made their own jams and jellies and summer wines, kept a pig and chickens and had two donkeys to pull them in their carriage.  A fresh breeze blew through these flowers as we sat on a bench for a few quiet moments.

The garden smelled like summer and sounded wonderful too; see the blackbird on the garden wall?  He was singing his heart out . . . we took the equivalent of a whole “roll of film” just on him!

 He was a little beauty.  What a perfect last day it was . . .

 Then it was back to the gift shop again, of course . . . I had to buy my quill pen and ink.  And some postcards and some books . . . and this . . .

. . . my irresistible Jane Austen dishtowel, which is now hanging on my stove.  (BTW, a few days ago I received a phone call from Ann at the Jane Austen Gift Shop.  I was thrilled to learn that she wants to carry my new book, A FINE ROMANCE, Falling in Love with the English Countryside in their shop!  In Chawton, England!  I can’t even tell you how much that makes my day!)

So much of Jane’s true life is obscured by the fact that her letters were destroyed by her family.  Some say they didn’t want the world to know the “real” Jane and “protected” her so that the everyone would think she was a retiring spinster, which is hard to imagine when you read her books, but apparently much preferable in those days when women weren’t supposed to be anything at all.  This has led to much conjecture as to what her life was really like, spawning an empire of imagination,  based on her books more than anything, on bits of truth and lots of hope and romantic thinking.  And the glorious idea of “Why not, it could be!”

One of my favorites of these is the movie Becoming Jane.  And I loved this BBC production, The Real Jane Austen.   There are so many wonderful movies based on her books, one of my favorites is EMMA with Gwyneth Paltrow.  Also funny, cute, and much more modern, CLUELESS, which is also based on the book Emma.   And this old production of Pride and Prejudice with Greer Garson, where the dresses are beyond romantic.  Here’s a list of movies based on her books, in case you haven’t seen them all, perfect for any rainy day.

There are lots of websites about Jane Austen, like this one for example.  If you’re interested, just Google her name and the list is unending.  You can even take summer courses at Oxford to study Jane Austen.  She’s recently been put on a stamp, and now the £10 note will carry her likeness.  So much to know and learn. 

Want More? I  wrote a handwritten, watercolored diary of this two-month dream-come-true called A Fine Romance, Falling in Love with the English Countryside…you can find it HERE.

OK, Girlfriends,  I think I should close now, before I hear those immortal words:

88 Responses to Jane Austen

  1. Thanks so much for the YouTube documentary. I really enjoyed reading your post about your visit to Chawton again and looking at the lovely photos.

  2. Nellie says:

    What an amazing place to visit, Susan! I think Cassandra would be a lovely name for a lamb.:-) It is a shame some of the papers from Jane Austen’s past history are missing.

    • sbranch says:

      I know … a hundred or so letters from the 3,000 she is said to have written in her life. A treasure trove up in smoke!

  3. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Love it that you could “feel her presence” in the stairway! I think that’s a camellia sitting there, lucky plant! Beautiful home & treasures, thank you for taking us there, now I’m off to Cassandra’s! Wonderful blog! xoxo

  4. Nellie says:

    Darling little lamb bookmark, by the way! Oh, a wonderful shipment came on Monday! My FOUR copies of “A Fine Romance!” Part of my Christmas shopping done already.:-)

  5. Bethany says:

    I think I just learned more from your post than I ever did from my literature classes in college! Her home was so pretty. Thank you for the tour!

  6. CarolK (The Garden State) says:

    Just finished watching the 8-part series The Real Jane Austin. Thanks to your links above to youtube. She had an amazing but short life. It’s a shame she died so young. Just think of all the other novels she could have written for us if only she had more time…….

    • sbranch says:

      I know — I’m sixty-six and I think of what I did between 41 and now — almost everything. I only met Joe at 39. It wouldn’t have been as much of a life for me! We can only imagine what we missed from Jane Austen, but she sure did have a light. She came, did her angel job, and left.

  7. there is a movie coming out soon that a friend told me about called Austenland have you heard of it? I had not but after watching the trailer I’m looking forward to seeing it. As far as i can tell, it is a romantic comedy about a british resort ala’ ‘club med’ but for austen-anglophiles in an english manor house… sonyclassics.com/austenland/

  8. Donna Crouch says:

    I just finished reading ‘A Fine Romance…..’. My eyes are crossed, I couldn’t put it down. You have given me so much enjoyment. I LOVE all things Jane Austen and loved this tour of her home and your personal insight as you visited. Have you read modern day novels such as Jane Austen Ruined My Life, The Dashwood Sisters Tell All and Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart? Beth Pattillo is the author. Cute stories. Thank you for this wonderful book of memories of your visit to the English countryside. It would be a dream come true to follow in your footsteps.

  9. april says:

    What a grand tour! Two of my girls are standing over my shoulders and “ooh, aaah-ing.” We have been all about everything JA for the better part of two years now and simply cannot get enough. THANK YOU for sharing your fun with us!

  10. Sandra Fredericks says:

    A year ago this month my husband & I and friends traveled to visit and tour Jane Austen’s cottage it was lovely and our the weather was perfect as well. 🙂

  11. I love all her books. I have most of her movies on dvd already.

  12. I love England. I went in 1974 during my last year at university. I would love to go back. I didn’t get to see everything.

  13. Paula says:

    Hi Susan!

    Its just amazing to read your notes about your visit to Jane Austen’s house. I was really young when I read “Pride and Prejudice” for the first time and I became a huge fan of Jane Austen´s books. Both, the book and the BBC production of “Pride and Prejudice” with Colin Firth are my mates in rainy days and inspire me!
    Some years later, a friend in the United States sent me a book of “Days” and I became in love with it, but I wasn’t able to find more of your books because they don’t sell it here in Portugal.
    Then I found your site but you didn’t ship to Portugal…finally I found e-bay and I already have: Days, Girlfriends Forever, Sweets to the Sweet, Vineyard Seasons, Christmas from the heart of the home and I’ve been buying your calendars since 2010! I just love your books!!! Sometimes I get in trouble trying to find the right ingredients four your recepies, because we don’t have some of them in Portugal!
    I just want to say that both you and Jane Austen are my inspirations, so it was so nice to read what you wrote about her!
    I wish you all the luck in the world and maybe one day you’ll visit Portugal (the island of São Jorge in the Azores) and we will meet!!!!

    PS – Sorry if you don´t understand some parts but it`s not that easy for me to write in English. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      I would LOVE to come to Portugal someday Paula! Thank you for your lovely beautifully-written letter! Wouldn’t Jane Austen be surprised to see how far her words have traveled and how people are still talking about her, even between us in two different parts of the world! She would love it too!

      • Paula says:

        Thank you, Susan, you´re so sweet!
        I’ll be waiting for you to come to Portugal. I know you will love our country as well as our cuisine! Maybe one day you’ll right a book with portuguese recepies… 🙂

  14. Jodie H. says:

    Hi Susan,
    I just love your blog and wish that I had life just like yours! I’m sure that you will understand (being a Jane Austen fanatic)
    that the name of one of her books, is actually Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey, which was published after her death. I know that Jane would have been so flattered by your admiration for her. I can’t wait to see what other lovely things you will show us from New England.

  15. Lisa Andrade says:

    I get butterflies just looking at these pictures. Reading the book, I was nearly in tears. I have to say, I am not sure how you and I did not spring from the same womb, Susan. All the things you saw and wrote about on your journey to the happiest place on earth (England, not Disneyland!) are things that I love and have seen on prior trips, or are on my to-do list for future trips, or things that I didn’t know about but would LOVE to see anyway). Having been an anglophile since my age consisted of single digits, I’m now 40 with a greater love of England than ever – and nearing the top of my list of loves are Tea and Jane Austen! I have a small table next to my bedside which looks nearly identical to the one she composed her letters and novels at – but I didn’t even know this until I saw the picture in your book. Imagine my giddiness!
    Thanks so much for taking me on the (vicarious) ride of my life! What a pleasure!

  16. Coraleen says:

    I can not believe that we haven’t met before (smiles and giggles), you and I have so many interest in common. Jane Austen, Beatrix Potter, England, Downton Abbey, tea parties the list goes on and on…. It is such a pleasure reading your blog and most of all reading my first adventure with Susan Branch “A Fine Romance”. I absolutely love this book between the writing and the watercolors I don’t know which brings me more joy. I can’t wait to read your blog entries, its the same feeling I use to get when I would receive my Victoria Magazine (the first go round). I am buying three more copies of “A Fine Romance” so that others may appreciate your talents. It is a blessing to be able to take a break from everyday trials and tribulations and relax and emerge yourself in such beauty. Thank you, now off for tea and watching for the 6th time the movie “Ms. Potter”. Oh, Fred Astaire movies are the best, I have been in love with these movies since I was 9 years old (and that was a long time ago in a land far away)

  17. Alison Wood says:

    I have just found your website today and I love it, I think that might be most of the weekend gone as I read through all your articles.

    I was drawn to this post on Chawton as I have visited it many times, I live in Berkshire the next county over, so I am not very far away. You have really brought it to life in your detailed description. It is a wonderful place to visit, as is Chawton House Library, just up the road, which now houses a collection of early women’s writing.

    For a really good biography of Jane Austen I would highly recommend ‘Jane Austen: A Life’ by Claire Tomalin.

    Thank you for your lovely site, I am off to read some more posts now 🙂

  18. Renee says:

    My husband and I spent 3 heavenly weeks driving through England and Wales in May and June of last year. This was one of my favorite places. I had taken just about the exact same photos you’ve posted here. How fun. Love your book “A Fine Romance” which is such a wonderful reminder of our own trip. Thank-you for posting this and sharing your trip.

  19. Brenda Gail Bissette says:

    It is a snowy weekend in Seattle and I stumbled onto your blog while searching web for info on Mason’s china “Laura asley” pattern. Now, I have spent hours on your blog. One of the best days ever!!
    I am an avid fan of Jane Austin, as well as my four daughters (who are all married with children) but are still romantics like their mom. I was fortunate to visit England in 2007 with my friend at work, Gillian, who was born there and came to live in USA a few years ago. We stayed in her daughters home with her family in Darby. What a special treat view England first hand.
    Sorry, I did not get to see Jane Austin’s house, because the weather was so snowy in March.. I did get to visit Chatsworth (Mr Darcy’s Pemberly), but had to walk up from the main road, again because of snow. Hope to visit again in spring/summer.
    I’m excited to buy your book “a fine romance”. Can you tell me when you be signing your book in Seattle? Or in Nashville? We also own a home there. Your blog and inspiration has made my day! Also can’t wait to go treasure hunting for more “Laura Ashley” stuff! I’m sure you will hear from me again.
    Love, Brenda Gail B

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Brenda Gail, nice to meet you! I’m so happy you’ve been enjoying the blog ~ you can probably tell, I love doing it. We aren’t planning any far-away signings just now because I really want to stay home and write something new. Maybe when that is done, we’ll get to go out and do some book signings like we did with A FINE ROMANCE. If you want a signed copy, we have them in my studio (see shopping at the top of page), otherwise, you should be able to get it (or order it) at your local bookstore. Have a wonderful day!

  20. Brenda Gail Bissette says:

    Please email me if I should enter additional info

  21. Kathleen Marie Rands says:

    Oh Susan! A friend of mine sent me the link to your site saying, “This reminds me of you.” Of course, I already knew your art work well enough and have had books and stickers of yours over the years, by the dozens. But then I noticed this page about your love of England. It was SUCH a pleasure to know that you too love England as much as I do. I also visited Jane’s house in Chawton some years back and was SO pleased to see it again, as the memory grows dusty. I always knew it, but now it is confirmed that we are kindred spirits…. I look forward to meeting you in another time. Thank you for sharing your wonderful talent. Kathy

  22. melanie says:

    regretfully I did not make to Chawton when I was in the UK but loved your tour and made me long for a trip back. thanks so much for sharing

  23. I just found your book “A Fine Romance”. Just reading the book, which I have re-read about 4 times now, has brought back such wonderful memories of my last trip to England, 2 months ago. I am doing the planning for a trip next year with 4 girlfriends, (no husbands, children or grandchildren on this trip) and you have given me wonderful ideas. I seem to be a bit old to write a fan letter, but I have several of your books, but A Fine Romance is one of my favorites of any book I own ( and there are MANY.) Thank you for your gorgeous watercolors and your ideas. I cannot wait to visit Bibury and hope to stay at the Bibury Court and meet Siobhan and John. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so happy you liked it Lexi! It seems to me it would take a lifetime to discover all the charms that England has to offer. Have fun!

  24. Tracy says:

    THIS is delightful! This day is right up near the top of my bucket list! I have never been to England, but being an anglophile at heart, I cannot wait. The only thing I want to do more than Jane Austen tours is Wimbledon. Until then, I will revisit this post from time to time and live vicariously through you and your beautifully detailed and enchanting blog posts. Cheers!

  25. Linda Lee Miller says:

    I so enjoyed visiting Chawton and Jane’s beautiful home. I just came
    across it on your website and really enjoyed the quaint little town.
    It must have been a lovely trip and a journey back in the day of this
    creative writer!
    Loved the pictures and little quotes from Jane…

  26. lin rader says:

    Oh, Susan, Your Jane Austen visit took me right there! That is your true gift…being able to transport one to the very spot in history. I felt myself in one of those gorgeous dresses sitting at that table with tea and pen in hand to share my thoughts on paper…(a seemingly lost art these days). And that stamp…I want a fur muff! I may make one this winter…if I do, I shall make one for you. Would be useful for New England! Time for me to return there for a visit. It has been 20 years and I love, love, love New England. You are so fortunate to live there. I live in Michigan and believe me, our winters are very similar. Here’s to Jane Austen and her more contemporary likeness, Laura Ashley and YOU! Thanks for taking me to England today!

  27. helena pennell says:

    oh susan, you enchant me with your musings! its everything I’m thinking but you express it so perfectly. your photos and commentary are like you are reading my mind. I have been a fan of yours for a very long time. I have most of your books and must send for “a fine romance”. I have been to England and I remember holding my breath almost constantly because of the beauty of it. thank you for this lovely post.

  28. Susan, Let me first say how jealous I am that you saw Janes home. I want to visit there someday and it looks lovely. I am currently enrolled in an online psychology class. My instructor was nice enough to allow us to submit a blog post about something we are interested in. Well, I am a huge Jane Austen fan!! I have all the movies, that include a few doubles of Pride and Prejudice due to the different versions. I will say I love the version with Collin Firth. He is my favorite Mr. Darcy. I enjoy these movies very much. I am so relaxed and stress free when I watch them. The movies are almost like my therapy for stress. Being able to join as different time is a real distraction that is good mindful practice for me. In my opinion nothing is more mindful than a good Austen book or movie. It may seem weird to try and find the connection between psychology and Austen for this blog post but for me she is the definition of a great therapist. She teaches you how to be strong, speak your mind , and find an outlet of expression. I find extremely therapeutic. I have been so stressed and I know if I read or watch some Austen I will be transferred to another time. Austen is female role model. I enjoyed reading this blog site and your Austen house pics are amazing.

    • sbranch says:

      I love reading your take on Jane Austen and how she connects your interests. I think that’s true for many of us who love her. Thank you Bethaney! I know you’ll get there one day . . . it’s just sitting over there, as it has been for so long, waiting for you.

  29. I’m a tad late in viewing your post but it made me so happy that I had to comment. A visit to the Jane Austen house is high on my bucket list. I love all of the special little touches they seem to put into it for the visitors. After reading your post I certainly feel like I was there for just a moment 🙂 Thanks for sharing your trip.

  30. Suzette Shoulders says:

    I have not been to Chawton, but I adore Jane…. and while visiting friends in Lancashire, we HAD to watch a series on BBC with them called ‘Lost in Austen”, and two years later we were able to get a DVD to play it here in the US. OH, MY! Takes you into the past! So many things we all love. My husband loves the Jennifer Ehle/ Colin Firth version of ‘Pride and Prejudice”… and watches it over and over, saying how much he loves the language and the civility of that time. Mind you, he never read that book as a young man, but I love this sweet streak in his character. Dear, dear England!

  31. Patricia Parker says:

    So love your blog Susan! My husband & I were in England a couple of years ago & took the tour of the Cotswolds & so loved it……we wanted to go to Choctaw & see Jane’s village and home but it was raining & were told you had to take different transportation to get there. Were you driving or are there tours you can arrange to take you there & are there inns there where you can spend the night?
    I have pre-ordered your next book & can hardly wait for it! You are a gem & through your writings, you feel like a friend that our “Downton Abbey” club could have a cup of tea with!! 😊☕️

  32. Sugandh nanda says:

    Hii Susan, I just loved reading about your experience in our very own Jane Austins house,it must have been amazing to experience that era ,era in which Jane wrote all of her amazing novels…Her work has always been a nobility…. I seriously got tears in my eyes reading about it and looking at the photos of her house and her writing table and staircase where you felt her presence…….I can only wish to be able to visit there someday and experience it for myself but until then thank you for taking me there , it was magical even looking at all the things which she used and touched and I would love to touch them and feel her presence….I know it is my first post but I would love to hear from you….Thanks Susan ….

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so happy you enjoyed it Sugandh . . . It was just as wonderful as you are thinking it is. I loved being able to share this with everyone! Magic of the Internet! Going to Scotland in the fall and “taking the blog” with us . . . hope you can join in!

  33. Katherine Gillatt says:

    Dear Susan

    I have really enjoyed your blog and the wonderful photographs. I live in Normandy, France, but was at the Chawton “cottage” last weekend with my two daughters and one of my sisters – they all dressed up in the Regency dresses and bonnets provided by the Museum – it was quite eerie, imagining that they could be Jane and her friends!

    The house is just as fabulous still – fascinating and very interesting – we were lucky to be there on a warm May Saturday – the garden was very pretty.

    I am reading Jane’s letters at the moment – collected and edited by Deidre Le Faye – I would recommend this book to everyone – but what a terrible pity that so many letters and other documents were destroyed by Cassandra!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s fantastic, the house with you in costume! I spent my whole time there imagining, so I’m sure that was a big help! Yes, I agree, the letters, what a loss! But sometimes I think that if we had all the letters, then we would have the whole truth, and there might only be one story, instead of the many of conjecture that we get like Becoming Jane and Miss Austen Regrets. There can be much more fantasy when no one knows the whole truth. By the way have you seen Mansfield Park? I just LOVE that movie!!! I’ll have to find the book you mentioned. I know I would love it. Thank you Katherine!

  34. kathy fenton says:

    dear susan, we didn’t know each other in high school but we both went to reseda high(class of 67) and we lived not to far from each other, i am a follower and love your books. my husband and i are lucky enough to go to england for two weeks this sept and am wondering what were your highlights not to be missed besides austin, potter and morrison? truly love your writing, keep it up. kathy fenton, arroyo grande, ca.

    • sbranch says:

      If you have read my book A Fine Romance, you will get the highlights from our two trips to the English Countryside . . . I included all of our most favorite houses and gardens in that book ~ plus other things that England travelers should know, like yes, American CDs work in English cars, but no, our DVD’s don’t work in their DVD players. Little things, like about electricity and celsius (for the temperature) and stones (for weight). If I started listing here, I would never stop! Have a WONDERFUL time, I know you will. You need to go to Charleston and to Sissinghurst. Okay, I’m stopping now. Yorkshire, and the Dales.

      • kathy fenton says:

        thank you for your input, it is all overwhelming so we are still listing places. i will let you know. i would love to know when you come back to our area. we saw you at madonne’s for book signing.kathy

        • sbranch says:

          Just pick 3 things and don’t be overwhelmed. It doesn’t matter where you go, you will love it, and nothing is too far from anything else.

  35. Fatima Zahra says:

    I learnt a lot about Jane Austen from this post than I ever did in my whole life, I loved the photos and your comments on them, I just can’t get enough of reading and looking at them, it’s pity that I couldn’t get your book, I really wanted to read it.
    P.S I was checking your post about cursive hand-writing and then I found myself here, I’m glad I clicked whatever I clicked to get here! 🙂

  36. Shifra says:

    It’s interesting to note that in the book What Katy Did Next by Susan Coolidge (first published in 1872), Jane Austen was unknown in her native land in the mid-nineteenth century. The heroine of What Katy Did Next insists on visiting “Winchester, that Katy might have the privilege of seeing the grave of her beloved Miss Austen. Katy had come abroad with a terribly long list of graves to visit, Mrs. Ashe declared. They laid a few rain-washed flowers upon the tomb, and listened with edification to the verger, who inquired,—

    “Whatever was it, ma’am, that lady did which brings so many h’Americans to h’ask about her? Our h’English people don’t seem to take the same h’interest.”

    “She wrote such delightful stories,” explained Katy; but the old verger shook his head.

    “I think h’it must be some other party, Miss, you’ve confused with this here. It stands to reason, Miss, that we’d have heard of ’em h’over ‘ere in England sooner than you would h’over there in h’America, if the books ‘ad been h’anything so h’extraordinary.”

  37. Rafael Cortes says:

    Take a look at Resident Magazine’s exclusive story with Kate Beckinsale as she talks about her starring role in Love & Friendship based on Jane Austen’s novel Lady Susan.


  38. Sandy says:

    What a delight!
    Love the pictures and your writing.
    I really want to go visit England and stay awhile.

  39. Julie Torgerson says:

    I was in the house in Chawton in fall of 2012. Have read all of the books and purchased most of the dvd’s. I’m just finishing the Letters of Jane Austen book and one thing that I find interesting is how often the people during that time moved about. Someone is always coming or going. People come for tea, dinner or sometimes stay for a “fortnight”. It makes me wonder how she found the time to write so much.
    I’m a member of JASNA (Jane Austen Society of North America – the Minnesota branch.) And on Saturday will be at the annual December luncheon. I’ve learned so many things at each of the meetings.
    I’m not sure how it happened to me, but I’ve become totally enamored of all things British. I would love to live there. Perhaps in another life. (sigh)

    • sbranch says:

      We’ll go together! It’s a good passion to have! Imagine all that coming and going, with no radio, TV, computer, phone, no noise except wagon wheels and cooking! I think time must have gone very slow in those days.

  40. Judith Williams says:

    What a beautiful site this is, and thank you so much for sharing the things you saw and experienced. I would love to go to this place myself. My late husband and I were avid fans of Jane Austen’s stories and while he was home on hospice with me, in his last weeks, he requested to watch Pride and Prejudice once more with me. That meant so much to me. Her stories will always be a sweet remembrance of my our life together. Not sad, but happy. Thank you or the recommendations. I have found some I have not watched. What a touching testament to her this site is. Again, thank you!

  41. Marcie says:

    Thank you, Susan, I always return to this particular post whenever I need a lovely refresher in life. The words and pictures are like liquid sunshine!
    Actually, I’m in a bit of a Janeish mood today, my dear friend just told me about a new book coming out called (got to love it) The Jane Austen Diet. She sent me some articles in Vogue and the Washington Post about it – it looks like a lot of fun (I know, wonderfully weird, for a diet book). Anyway, just wanted to share, as a fellow Janeite in arms!

  42. Eve says:

    I have just read your post… thank you for such a beautiful display of photos of Jane’s house and garden. So beautifully highlighted with your words. A joy to read.

  43. Noel says:

    Thank you for sharing! I am an English teacher, and I get to read “Pride and Prejudice” with about 60 tenth grade girls each year – what a joy 🙂 My sister and I are now a two-person Jane Austen book club, and she sent me this beautiful blog. I hope to use your pictures and details in my intro notes in my class next year when we’re back to school.

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, that IS a joy. Watching people fall in love with your passions, who could ask for better “work?” Never stop! xoxo

  44. Ruth Clapp says:

    In spite of years of travel, I never got to Chawton. I have seen other pictures of Jane’s table but for some reason, your picture brought tears to my eyes. I enjoyed all of this post. Thank you.

  45. Carol Shapiro says:

    Dear Susan, I don’t know if you are aware of the plight of the Jane Austen’s House Museum that you visited in 2013, is at risk of closing forever due to the covid19 crisis..while there are many worthy charities that are in desperate need, in this crisis ( food insecurity being of paramount importance) , having visited their website recently , they are asking for any donation that can be spared, and have opened an online gift shop to try to raise needed monies…with your vast readership, I thought perhaps you might want to consider mentioning their plight. Of course, with all the desperate needs around us, some things will just have to fall by the wayside, unfortunately…I enjoy your blog, I am sorry I missed out on purchasing the bluebird mug which is truly delightful to look at, and maybe you might try a second run of it, or another bluebird mug- it is charming!!!! Take care- be safe.

    • sbranch says:

      I just went to donate myself and was so happy to see they’ve more than reached their goal … they’re holding the appeal open because they will need more help. Warmed the cockles of my heart to see they are doing well and the lovely response by everyone that loves them as we do. Yes, we need to keep our wonderful world alive! Thank you for passing this on. xoxo

  46. Dr Lynda Lakin says:

    This was a wonderful tribute to Jane Austen and her talents! My sister and I visited her tea room when we were in England “off the ship” with Susan last May. What a delightful time we had! We had the most scrumptious tea and lovelies at the restaurant and then played “dress up” and took pictures of us with “Mr. Darcy”. I have since been reading all her novels, albeit on my own timeline! Thank you Susan for sharing everything England with us who dearly love that country second to the USA! Delightful!!

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