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Exhibition of Jane's Austen Reading

Helping Chawton House to build an exhibition of books that Austen read and discover how they might have influenced her.

The present Study Room, an unloved space with metal shelving next to the upstairs Tapestry Gallery and Exhibition rooms at Chawton House, will display an exhibition about Jane Austen’s Reading. It will begin to explain how, where, who, what, when Jane read. It is based upon research that Gillian Dow and Katie Halsey carried on at Chawton House, and published in Persuasions On-line in 2010 ( view publication )

The exhibition will focus on books from the Godmersham Park’s library, formerly belonging to her brother Edward Knight in Kent. This library was moved to Chawton House sometime between 1853 and 1872, when Godmersham was sold. From Jane Austen’s letters, we know she often used the books in his library, relishing its “quiet.”

Naming rights are available for large aspects of the project:

  • £6,000 for new tabletop display case(s) to house the Godmersham Park catalogue and up to 6 absolutely core texts referenced in the novels and letters

  • £5,000 would buy new interpretation boards that explain the history of the collection and a screen for display of online, virtual, Godmersham Library, called “Reading with Jane Austen.” That site was built by scholar Peter Sabor, after a long stint working with the books at Chawton House.

  • £4,500 allows purchase of interactive touchscreen with additional materials.

Goal for this phase of Jane Austen’s Reading is £15,000. If funded, this exhibition can launch in the

refreshed Study Room in time for March 2019 opening of new CH season to visitors.


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