For Jane Austen lovers, membership and gift ideas



I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen is surely one of Britain’s best loved novelists.   Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility are three of her works and having read them or seen the film or series and discovered more about her fascinating life, it's easy to see how her life and her experiences in it contributed to the plots and the daily and seasonal life of English country gentry.  Her six books give us a considerable insight into the lives of women in the early 19th century.

Jane Austen started Sanditon, but was unable to finish before her death.  Charlotte Heywood moves from Sussex to the sleepy seaside village of Sanditon, where she meets Sidney Parker.  Parker is trying to turn Sanditon in to a fashionable resort.   Charlotte gets involved in the town's "intrigues and dalliances" and the locals. Rose Williams and Theo James start as Charlotte Heywood and Sidney Parker respectively.  The story has a twisty plot, which goes from the West Indies to London.  

Her family’s travels around the south east during her life time gave her much material for her novels.  And they give rise to several membership opportunities en route.  Here are just a few places Jane Austen was assocated with.

Born in Steventon, north east Hampshire

Jane Austen was born in the village of  in North East Hampshire.  Her parents were the Reverend George Austen and Cassandra Leigh.  She had 5 brothers – two were clergymen, one inherited estates in Kent and Hampshire from a distant cousin; two more were in the Royal Navy. Her only sister never married.

Jane lived most of the first 25 years of her life here, although she and her sister went to schools in Oxford, Southampton and Reading.  Their schooling was cut short because of the family's finances. She made trips to Godmersham Park in Kent to visit her brother Edward, and to Bath to stay with relatives.  

During the 1790s she penned initial versions of Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey.   Shortly after in 1804, her father retired and the family moved to Bath, a stay which provided much material for her books Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. 


Then Jane moved to Bath

Life was hectic for Jane in Bath - rounds of shopping, visiting people and entertaining. And in Bath, you’ll find the Jane Austen Centre which tells Jane’s story and also the effect living in Bath had on her and on her writing.  They have a free membership to their Jane Austen site and services, with full access to the 1,000 articles from their online magazine, regular Austen news, offers from their online Gift Shop, a weekly quiz and a welcome 10% off voucher for any online purchases.

Holidays in Lyme Regis

From there the family had holidays on the south coast to resorts such as Lyme Regis. It was a fashionable town at the time, so taking walks, dancing in the Assembliy Rooms and bathing were frequent amusements.  Here Jane got the background she needed for Persuasion - the novel is part set there.. 

The Lyme Regis Museum has a number of objects on display relating to Jane Austen and her times and it has a Friends of the Museum scheme.   

In Bath, Jane’s father died and a few months later, Jane, her mother and sister lost the income they had received from his pension.   Brother Edward had them to stay with him in Southampton for a while, and when he and his wife had their baby and moved to the Isle of Wight.  Jane, her mother and sister moved to Chawton.  Here Jane and her sister took a walk most days, they shopped in Alton and collected the family post there.  

Lived in Chawton

In Chawton, you’ll find the Jane Austen’s House Museum which you can visit and where Jane revised Pride and Prejudice, and Sense and Sensibility.   Her brother negotiated with a publisher for her and publications began to appear.  The museum tells the story of Jane and her family, and there are plenty of Austen family portraits, original manuscripts and memorabilia.   You stand behind the table Jane used for writing, and stroll in the garden just as the Austen women did.  There's a gift shop and you can visit the kitchen and bakehouse.  

You can also take a walk which covers about 4 and a half miles from the centre of Chawton which takes you towards St Nicolas' Church where Jane's mother and sister are buried. And you can also spot Gilbert White's Selbourne village en route.  The walk takes you to Farringdon. 

Edward inherited the estate at Chawton, albeit from distant relatives, and it included Chawaton House, or the Great House as it was known.  Jane visited it often, and today, Chawton House Library fosters research and understanding of early women writers.   It has  several Become a Friend schemes or people in the UK, North America, and equally you can also Adopt a Book or Conserve a Book. There’s a lot on at the library, from gardening talks, recitals, conferences, events and exhibitions and I was enthralled to find out about this venue and what it’s going on.

Died in Winchester

After a few years at Chawton, Jane sadly began to suffer ill-health.  She went to Winchester for treatment but died there on 18 July 2017 age 41.  She was buried in Winchester Cathedral.   A year later, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were published.   

 How about a Jane Austen Book and Tea Subscription for three months?

How about a Jane Austen Book and Tea Subscription
for three months for £45.00?

Jane Austen: Floral Pencil and Pen Set
Jane Austen: Floral Pencil and Pen Set 
 avialable from Hive for £17.49

The Jane Austen Society was founded in 1940 by Dorothy Darnell   The am was to raise funds to preserve the cottage in Chawton, where Jane lied with her mother and sister from 1809 to 1817.  The cottage was bought by the Jane Austen Memorial Trust in 1947 and the Jane Austen Society helped with its preservation.  Today, it is simply called Jane Austen's House and it's a museum open to the public. The Society preserves its close links with the house.  Today, it still promotes awareness of Jane Austen's life and works - its Annual Report is full of original research.  

Membership gives you the Society's Report with the text of the Address at Chawton, held every year, and a bibliography of Jane Austen publications published recently, and also other items of interest. In the spring and autumn, there are newsletters with news of activities and book reviews and so forth. You can also attend the Annual General Meeting at Chawton House - there's an address.  And members have exclusive access to their own area on the website! You can become a member here

Jane Austen has left quite a legacy, with her famous novels which have brought pleasure to millions of people and inspired others to put pen to paper.   It’s been a fascinating journey finding out more about the woman whose books have brought me such enormous pleasure.