A live video talk
“Let me introduce you to a heroine. Her name was Dorothy Gwynnyd Darnell. It is thanks to this remarkable woman that we can today visit the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton.”
Do you know how Jane Austen’s home at Chawton, which was rapidly becoming derelict, was saved for the nation? Do you know the story of the remarkable woman who managed to do this? I’ve discovered what motivated this quiet achiever and I’ll share Dorothy Darnell’s amazing accomplishment in this talk.
Our Chawton home – how much we find
Already in it, to our mind,
And how convinced that when complete,
It will all other Houses beat.
― Jane Austen
Dorothy Darnell had long loved the novels of Jane Austen. On a visit to the township of Chawton she found Jane Austen’s house in a terrible state of disrepair. So Dorothy set about the task of saving the house and establishing a Jane Austen society.
What took place after that is nothing short of remarkable. A story of true tenacity and determination to save an important piece of history that I find totally fascinating.
Why do people want to visit the homes of famous writers? What drives us to go to such houses, what should be put on display there, and what is the function and role of a literary museum? I’ll delve into the whys and wherefores of a literary house museum, discuss what it is that visitors hope to gain from such an experience, and what the responsibilities of curators are. I ask you to consider why you would visit a literary house museum?
In a first for the Jane Austen Society of Australia, a meeting was recorded live to share with JASA members. Like most organisations, JASA has been unable to hold regular meetings for many months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. JASA worked within health and safety guidelines to arrange the meeting and the small group of people in attendance adhered to safe Covid-19 practices.
Prior to sharing it publically, this recording has been edited to remove the JASA agenda and items not of general interest. The meeting venue is a suburban church hall.
Have you visited Jane Austen’s House Museum? Of another literary house museum? What drew you to it? Let’s discuss it here.
Generally, my video talks are a paid item, but I’ve decided to make this one freely available. This video was recorded live in August 2020 at a meeting of the Jane Austen Society of Australia in Sydney, Australia during the Covid-19 Pandemic and runs for 52 minutes. Please enjoy it with my compliments.
To view this video in full screen mode click the small box in the lower, right corner which appears after it has started to play.
I was lucky enough to attend Susannah’s talk and it was wonderful. Run, don’t walk to see the video!
I was eager to listen to this talk because its Jane Austen content, but I found myself equally captivated by the broader theme of literary museums and what attracts us to the homes of famous authors. Susannah brought this topic to life with fascinating details about specific house museums, the practical concerns of their operation, and the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. A timely and timeless presentation!
Only you could make such a physical topic of an author’s home so interesting and touching.
Thank you, Susannah, an excellent talk. I always find it fabulous to visit an author’s home and look about me, to try and get a feel for them. I do hope as many as possible stay open after this COVID-19 times.