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The Great House in Hampshire

By Linda Tancs

Chawton House is a center for early women’s writing. Owned by Jane Austen’s brother Edward, the Elizabethan manor house in Hampshire, England, was referred to by Austen in her letters as the “Great House.” The venue has many first editions and original manuscripts; not surprisingly, one of those assets is “Sir Charles Grandison,” written in Jane’s own hand. Although she may have dined frequently at the home, Jane did not live there. Instead, her brother offered another residence minutes away, which many might consider the real “great house” because she penned her major works there: “Sense and Sensibility,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Mansfield Park,” “Emma,” “Northanger Abbey” and “Persuasion.” That residence, Jane Austen’s House Museum, may be the most treasured fan site in the world. Both sites are accessible via hourly trains to nearby Alton from London’s Waterloo station.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

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