At Home with Jane Austen

At Home with Jane Austen

by Kim Wilson
     
 


Tour the homes and settings of Jane Austen, one of the most widely read and beloved authors in English literature, in this beautiful book featuring over 100 color photographs and illustrations.

“I shall be very glad to see you at home again, and then…who will be so happy as we?” — Jane Austen

From her youth in a country rectory

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Overview


Tour the homes and settings of Jane Austen, one of the most widely read and beloved authors in English literature, in this beautiful book featuring over 100 color photographs and illustrations.

“I shall be very glad to see you at home again, and then…who will be so happy as we?” — Jane Austen

From her youth in a country rectory in Steventon, a small village in Hampshire, England—where she wrote her first stories for her friends, Volume the First, Volume the Second, and Volume the Third—to the fashionable spa town of Bath, to the seaport of Southampton, to her final years in her last settled home at peaceful Chawton Cottage, where she penned her most famous novel, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s life was hardly that of a shut in. A regular visitor to London, to the seashore for holidays, and to the estates of friends and relatives, Jane carried her own notion of home with her wherever she went and drew inspiration for her brilliantly witty novels from every new experience. She wrote most everywhere she traveled, accompanied by her portable writing desk.

With gorgeous photography and illustrations, At Home with Jane Austen explores Austen’s world, her physical surroundings, and the journeys the popular author took during her lifetime. Author Kim Wilson ties Austen’s novels to places where she lived, visited, and even attended school, ending with her final months in temporary lodgings in Winchester, England. Jane Austen’s enduring legacy is the final chapter of this beautiful and eye–opening book.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/22/2014
Though there is no shortage of books about Jane Austen, this charming volume will no doubt find an appreciative audience. Wilson (Tea with Jane Austen) once again leads the reader through a specific aspect of Austen's life– in this case, the physical spaces which she lived in or visited. Individual chapters take us from Austen's childhood country home in rural Steventon to the bustling city of Bath, with which she is so associated, to her final dwellings in Chawton, where she wrote so many of her novels, and Winchester, where she passed away. Austen regularly visited friends and family and vacationed at the seaside, and the chapter on travel is particularly engaging, recounting in detail the vagaries and difficulties of Regency-era travel. Copious photographs and prints illustrate what Jane Austen might have experienced as well as what remains for us to enjoy. Quotes from Austen's letters convey the day-to-day experience of living in these places, and examples from her work demonstrate how often these experiences found their way into the novels. The volume will perhaps be best enjoyed by diehard Austenites, but even casual fans should enjoy following in the beloved author's footsteps. A useful appendix is also included.120 color illus. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

“Evokes the charm of a Jane Austen novel with lively prose…Wilson relies on Austen’s letters, family memoirs, travel guides, and other publications of the era to create an enchanting biographical sketch…Austen enthusiasts and any reader interested in late 18th– and early 19th–century English society will relish this title.” — Library Journal

#1 Non–Fiction Austen–Inspired Title of 2014: “A perfect combination of detailed research, engaging prose, and exquisite illustrations." — Austenprose

Selected for Women’s Wear Daily’s “Elements of Style: Fall Book Roundup”

“Whether you are a newcomer, or a longtime Austen devotee, this book cannot fail to encourage your own further exploration of her life, times, and work.” — Mary Guyatt, curator of Jane Austen’s House Museum

“At Home with Jane Austen is the perfect companion to Austen’s novels” — The Lady magazine

“This charming volume will no doubt find an appreciative audience. Wilson (Tea with Jane Austen) once again leads the reader through a specific aspect of Austen's life—in this case, the physical spaces which she lived in or visited…Quotes from Austen's letters convey the day–to–day experience of living in these places, and examples from her work demonstrate how often these experiences found their way into the novels… even casual fans should enjoy following in the beloved author's footsteps. — Publishers Weekly

As an ardent admirer of the impeccable research and informative prose found in Kim Wilson’s previous works—Tea with Jane Austen and In the Garden with Jane Austen—I was beyond excited to see she has yet again published another comprehensive and artfully arranged tome about Jane Austen’s life and time…A thoughtful, engaging, and superbly executed compilation! A must read for any Janeite who wants to share a visit with Jane Austen at home. I sincerely hope we will see more books of this nature from the talented pen of Kim Wilson…Brava, Ms. Wilson! This one is another gem! — Austenesque Reviews

Library Journal
11/15/2014
This handsome, decorative book evokes the charm of a Jane Austen novel with lively prose, whimsical illustrations, and stunning modern photographs. Wilson (Tea with Jane Austen) presents the houses where Austen lived or visited, the people she encountered, the events she experienced, and the brilliant response she made to her world: her novels. In this volume, Wilson relies on Austen's letters, family memoirs, travel guides, and other publications of the era to create an enchanting biographical sketch. The author shares detailed descriptions of each house occupied by the novelist—the spacious parsonage at Steventon, where Jane was born, the narrow terraced Sydney Place house in Bath, and the "old-fashioned" Castle Square residence in Southampton. Austen's final home was Chawton Cottage, a "comfortable and ladylike establishment," as described by her niece Caroline. Austen's daily activities—sewing, practicing the piano, reading—are examined, and her love of dancing ("there were twenty dances and I danced them all") celebrated. VERDICT Austen enthusiasts and any reader interested in late 18th- and early 19th-century English society will relish this title.—Kathryn Bartelt, Univ. of Evansville Libs., IN

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780789212092
Publisher:
Abbeville Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/30/2014
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
530,725
Product dimensions:
9.90(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

At Home with Jane Austen


By Kim Wilson

Abbeville Press

Copyright © 2014 Kim Wilson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7892-1209-2


Excerpt from At Home With Jane Austen

The Author

Jane Austen is among the most widely read and beloved authors in English literature. Her novels vividly depict the society and world in which she lived with humor and sharp social commentary. Jane’s own life and emotional experiences, deeply influenced by where she lived in Southern England and her travels to other parts of the country, are reflected in her works and in the importance of house and home to her characters. Although the Austens moved several times, from Steventon in the Hampshire countryside, to the cities of Bath and Southampton, and finally to Chawton in rural Hampshire again, Jane carried her own notion of home with her wherever she went. As one of a large, loving family, Jane neither needed nor depended on the outside world. Her home, a great-nephew noted, “was wherever her own people were, and whether at Steventon, Bath, or elsewhere, her cheerful temperament was even and unvaried, and assured her own happiness as well as that of those with whom she lived.”

Her father’s parsonage at Steventon in Hampshire gave Jane her love of country life. A spacious, old-fashioned building set in a quiet village near flower-filled meadows and ancient hedgerows, the parsonage provided a secure and peaceful home for Jane for the first 25 years of her life. The sunny garden, green terrace, and wood walks behind the house were favorite spots, and inspired scenes in several of her novels, especially Northanger Abbey, whose heroine also grew up at a country parsonage. Steventon, wrote her nephew, “was the cradle of her genius. These were the first objects which inspired her young heart with a sense of the beauties of nature. In strolls along those wood walls…fancies rose in her mind, and gradually assumed the forms in which they came forth to the world.” Jane was the seventh of eight children, part of warm, loving family who valued a wide variety of books. “Our family,” she wrote, “are great novel readers and not ashamed of being so.” The Austens put on family theatricals and wrote comic verse, and supported Jane enthusiastically when she showed early talent as a writer while still a teenager. Beginning when she was about twelve years old, Jane wrote many short stories, plays, and other pieces to amuse her family. As she grew older, she began to experiment with different forms of writing, including a novella, Lady Susan. It is thought that Sense and Sensibility, her first novel, then named Elinor and Marianne, started as an epistolary novel, as did Pride and Prejudice, which began as First Impressions. The first draft of Northanger Abbey, then called Susan, was also written at Steventon.

Her father’s retirement to Bath in 1801, when Jane was 25 years old, brought a complete change of scene. Trading quiet country life for the bustle of the city, the Austens moved to a narrow, stone house near Sydney Gardens, and later, after the Reverend Austen’s death, to a series of lodgings. No stranger to Bath, Jane had also visited the city as a young woman, providing a wealth of material she would later use in Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Bath offered, as her heroine Catherine finds in Northanger Abbey, “a variety of amusements, a variety of things to be seen and done all day long…I do like it so very much…Oh! Who can ever be tired of Bath?” But the adult Jane may have shared the opinions of her heroine Anne Elliot in Persuasion, who “persisted in a very determined, though very silent disinclination for Bath.” Certainly she seems not to have written much while in Bath, whether because she was busy or because she was unhappy or uninspired. But she revised Susan at Bath, and was able to place it with a London publisher in 1804, though he never did publish it. She began The Watsons about the same time, but put it aside indefinitely after completing just a few chapters.

Lengthy visits to the houses and mansions of friends and family and tours to other parts of England gave inspiration to Jane as well. Her brother Edward’s house at Chawton in Hampshire and Godmersham in Kent and the homes of other family and friends were models for the various country houses in Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, and her other novels. Jane’s love of the sea, born of numerous visits to seaside resorts such as Lyme Regis, and her residence at Southampton after leaving Bath, finds expression in Persuasion, whose characters stroll along the seashore, “as all must linger and gaze on a first return to the sea, who ever deserved to look on it at all.” One of the few hints of romantic love in Jane’s life was a meeting that took place, according to her niece, while on holiday on the shores of Devon.

Staying at her brother Henry’s London houses for weeks while correcting the proofs of her novels exposed Jane to the busy, cosmopolitan city that plays such a crucial role in Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice and in the lives of the characters in several of her other novels. She made the most of her trips to London, combining business with rounds of social events, extensive shopping, and trips to the theater, valuing the opportunities that only a large city affords. “When I am in the country,” says her character Mr. Bingley in Pride and Prejudice, “I never wish to leave it; and when I am in town it is pretty much the same. They each have their advantages, and I can be equally happy in either.”

Jane returned to rural Hampshire in 1809 at the age of 33 when her brother Edward offered Jane, her mother and sister, and their friend Martha Lloyd a house he owned in Chawton. Chawton Cottage, Jane’s last home, was a pleasant, roomy dwelling, improved by Edward to “a comfortable and ladylike establishment.” The house most closely associated with Jane Austen as an author, Chawton Cottage provided her with an environment perfectly suited to her creative needs. There she revised Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey, and there wrote her last three novels, Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion,and began Sanditon, which she laid aside only in the final months of her last illness.

Though Jane changed her residence many times, family and home remained the emotional center of her life. She expressed her love of home in her work, creating heroes and heroines who also cherish the idea of home, even when, like Fanny Price in Mansfield Park, they are uprooted and must learn to love a new one: “When [Fanny] had been coming to Portsmouth, she had loved to call it her home, had been fond of saying that she was going home; the word had very dear to her; and so it still was, but it must be applied to Mansfield. That was now the home. Portsmouth was Portsmouth; Mansfield was home.”

(Continues...)

Excerpted from At Home with Jane Austen by Kim Wilson. Copyright © 2014 Kim Wilson. Excerpted by permission of Abbeville Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author


Kim Wilson is the author of a number of books about Jane Austen including Tea with Jane Austen and In The Garden with Jane Austen. She lives in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

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