1 September 2020 Susannah

Saving Jane Austen’s House

Jane Austens House Museum

“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.”

These words marked the beginning of a feature talk I presented at a Jane Austen Society of Australia meeting recently.

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.

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. In this talk, I delve into the whys and wherefores of a literary house museum, discusses what it is that visitors hope to gain from such an experience, and what the responsibilities of curators are.

This 55-minute video is the feature talk from a live recording of a recent Jane Austen Society meeting.

Please enjoy this video free with my compliments.

Have you visited Jane Austen’s House Museum? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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Featured image credit- Jane Austens House Museum, https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4616279

Comments (4)

  1. Helen

    On a family holiday from Melbourne in 2017, a visit to this beautiful home was on the list, and I couldn’t wait. It was a pilgrimage of sorts. As it turned out in the day, we only had 30 minutes in which to visit before the museum closed and we had to get our bus back to Oxford to get our train back to London. It was one of the most wonderful, heart-warming 30 minutes of my life. For this history buff and Jane Austen fan, it was a walk in heaven. I was so grateful for the chance to step back in time and share a small part of Jane Austen’s life. We did everything we squeeze into that 30 minutes and I dearly hope that one day I will return for a longer visit.

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Too short a visit, but wonderful that you did get there. It is such a special place. Do watch the free film I’ve given you a link for about how the house came to be saved for the nation, and what it is we all hope to find when we visit the home of a favourite writer. I think you would really enjoy it.

  2. Maria

    I was lucky enough to attend Susannah’s talk and it was wonderful. Run, don’t walk to see the video!

    • Susannah Fullerton

      Oh you are kind, Maria. I think it was a talk that taught lots of people things they didn’t know before and hopefully made them think about visiting the homes of writers and what we all expect.

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