Saturday Schedule

Time (BST) Speaker Event
10:00 Claire Thurlow

Claire Thurlow is a writer and writing coach who is passionate about helping people who have an urge to write. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Sussex and is an experienced workshop facilitator, editor and published author.

**Sold out** Creative Writing Workshop: Do you want to write, but don’t know where to start?

Find your creative spark and use memory, observation and imagination to turn ideas into words.

Join Claire in this interactive writing workshop, a taster of the sessions she usually runs at Chawton House.

These Creative Writing workshops are the only part of the programme that are charged for and bookable in advance. Please note there is a very small capacity and therefore limited availability.

11:00 Therese Kieran & Lisa Andrews

Therese is a writer based in Belfast. Her poetry has been published in local anthologies, including CAP, Shalom, Queens University, University of Manchester, The Incubator magazine and in 2015, she was runner up in the Poetry Ireland/Trocaire competition and subsequently invited to read her poem at an international conference on climate change in Maynooth College, Co Kildare.

Lisa began her writing career working for heat magazine before becoming the daily news editor of a film website run by Carlton TV called Lisa then spent 15 years working for BP’s staff magazine, working her way up to become the editor of its global quarterly shareholder magazine, with a stint as a communications manager for what became its alternative energy business. Lisa went freelance in 2016 and ran 26’s Armistice 100 project in 2018.

DISCUSSION: Poetry inspired by objects: telling the stories of female refugees 

Lisa Andrews interviews Northern Irish poet Therese Kieran – both members of the 26 writers collective – about how Kieran’s chance discovery of a 1940s nightdress has inspired poetry around the stories of women refugees. Her first poem, written to mark the Centenary of the First World War, is about female Belgian refugees, who helped establish a lingerie factory in Monaghan, Ireland; a rich seam of enquiry that’s led to exploring parallels with modern day refugee experiences.

This discussion will be followed by a Twitter Q&A.

Join the Conversation #ChawtonLitFest

12:00 Clio O’Sullivan

Clio O’Sullivan is the Communications and Public Engagement Manager at Chawton House. Alongside her work at Chawton, she studies part-time at the University of Southampton, undertaking a PhD in creative writing and the eighteenth century.

INTRODUCTION: Man up! Women Who Stepped into a Man’s World

In this introductory talk, Clio O Sullivan delves into the inspiration and genesis of the Chawton House 2020 exhibition, discussing how it took shape and highlighting some of the remarkable stories that feature. Discover tales of female soldiers, pirates and duellists who donned male clothing, fought bravely, whilst endeavouring to hide their identity. Discover, also, women who used their talents and influence to enter those male-dominated spaces thought not to be “the business of a woman’s life.” Women such as the Brontë sisters and Mary Wollstonecraft, whose words still inspire us now.

View the Exhibition

12:20 Julie Wheelwright

Dr Julie Wheelwright is a senior lecturer in the English department at City, University of London. She is the author of Amazons and Military MaidsThe Fatal Lover: Mata Hari and the Myth of Women in Espionage, and a biography of her ancestor who was taken captive by indigenous people in 18th-century Maine, Esther: The Remarkable True Story of Esther Wheelwright. A former print and broadcast journalist whose career included producing and contributing to documentaries for BBC radio and television, Channel 4, and the History Channel in Canada, she has written widely on women in the intelligence services and in the military.

TALK: Masquerade! How women of the eighteenth century cross dressed for adventure, profit and liberty

Dr. Julie Wheelwright discusses her new book, Sisters in Arms: Female Warriors from Antiquity to the New Millennium (Osprey Publishing), bringing alive the real-life stories of Mary Anne Talbot, Hannah Snell and the pirates, Mary Read and Anne Bonny who that you’ll meet in the Man Up! Exhibition. Who were these extraordinary women, why did they go a-soldiering in male disguise, how did they get away with it and what happened to them once they resumed their female lives? And, of course, what do they have to teach us about women’s lives today?All of these questions, and more will be explored in this talk.

Buy the Book

Julie’s talk will be followed by a Twitter Q&A.

Join the Conversation #ChawtonLitFest

13:00 Rebecca James

Rebecca James is a South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership sponsored PhD researcher at the University of Southampton and Cardiff University. Her area of research is eighteenth-century pirates.

TALK: Women Warriors of the Waves

The high seas were a dangerous place during the Golden Age of Piracy. Yet Anne Bonny and Mary Read were famously just as violent and ruthless as their male counterparts. Discover exciting imagery featuring these extraordinary women and the myths surrounding their legend in this online talk.

Rebecca’s talk will be followed by a Twitter Q&A.

Join the Conversation #ChawtonLitFest

14:00 Sharon Wright

Sharon Wright is an author, journalist and playwright. She was born in Bradford and now lives in South West London with her family. She has worked as a writer, editor and columnist for leading national magazines, newspapers and websites including The GuardianDaily Express, BBC, Disney, Glamour, Red and Take a Break. Her first book, Balloonomania Belles, was serialised in The Mail on Sunday and received widespread coverage, including on BBC Woman’s Hour and in the New York Post. In 2019 she released her second book: The Mother of the Brontes’, a biography of Maria Branwell.

INTERVIEW: Those Magnificent Women and their Flying Machines

Female balloonists were just as fabulous as Hollywood’s fictional Amelia in The Aeronauts. In this interview with Chawton House Chief Executive, Katie Childs, Sharon will discuss the astonishing true stories of the female pioneers of balloon flight.

More than a century before the first aeroplane female balloonists were heading for the heavens in crazy, inspired contraptions that could bring death or glory and all too often, both. Discover their hair-raising adventures in the lost history of the lady aeronauts.

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Sharon’s talk will be followed by a Twitter Q&A.

Join the Conversation #ChawtonLitFest

15:00 Alison Daniell

Alison Daniell is a PhD researcher at Southampton University, working on the lived experiences of women under coverture during the long eighteenth century and how those experiences were re-imagined in female-authored fictions of the period. A former matrimonial lawyer and novelist, Alison is a writer, tutor and lecturer who currently teaches on the highly-successful ‘Jane Austen: Myth, Reality and Global Celebrity’ MOOC run by Southampton University.

TALK: Elizabeth Knight: A Woman to be Reckoned With

Elizabeth Knight (1674-1737): the only female squire to have presided over the Chawton House estate, eventually inherited by Jane Austen’s brother.Wealthy, powerful and very much in the mould of Jane Austen’s great landowning women such as Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Knight was a woman who refused to relinquish control of her land holdings in an age when wives had no legal identity of their own. This talk introduces audiences to a real-life woman who may have been the inspiration for some of Austen’s best-known female characters.


Alison’s talk will be followed by a Twitter Q&A.

Join the Conversation #ChawtonLitFest

16:00 Sinéad Keegan

Sinéad Keegan is a writer, editor and lecturer. Her poetry and short stories have been published and anthologised widely including in Magma, The Lake, and Sheila-Na-Gig Online. She has an MFA in creative writing and is the co-editor of literary arts magazine She has led workshops for various festivals and institutions including the British Council and SouthWestFest. Currently, she lectures in creative and critical writing at Kingston University and London Metropolitan University in addition to taking private clients.

Finding Your Creativity: Writing found poetry from the archives of Chawton House

Have you always wanted to try writing poetry but not known where to start? Are you a regular writer of poetry looking to hone your editing skills? This accessible session gives you access to poetry from the archives of Chawton House and will help you to build ‘found poetry’ over the course of Friday and Saturday. Instruction and inspiration will be provided on Friday by poet and creative writing lecturer, Sinéad Keegan. Then you have an opportunity to work on your poetry and send it in to the festival. This will be followed by a Facebook Live session on Saturday when you can share your work, ask questions and see the other creative work produced by festival attendees.

Open to all, no experience necessary.

Buy the Book

*Find the poetry and instructions here
*Join our Facebook Live workshop on Saturday, 16th of May 4-5pm BST
*Email your poetry to
*Share your poetry, lines you like or anything else on social media and tag us in! #ChawtonLitFest
17:00 Louisa Albani

Louisa is an artist, educator & has her own illustrated pamphlets small press. Recent publications have included William Blake’s Mystic Map of London, 2019, and A Moment in the Life of Virginia Woolf, June 2020. Louisa combines pen and ink drawing with collage to create richly-detailed scenes that blur the boundaries between the observed and the imagined.

Bee Rowlatt

Bee Rowlatt is a writer and journalist. In Search of Mary (Alma) inspired by Mary Wollstonecraft, won the Society of Authors’ K Blundell Trust award. The best-seller Talking About Jane Austen in Baghdad (Penguin) was dramatised by the BBC and translated into numerous languages. Bee chairs the Mary on the Green campaign to memorialise Mary Wollstonecraft and is a founding Trustee of the human rights education charity the Wollstonecraft Society. Bee contributed to Virago’s Fifty Shades of Feminism, and clocked over two decades at BBC World Service. She’s written for BBC Online, The Telegraph, Grazia, Die Welt, Times, Guardian and Daily Mail, and appears regularly on tv and radio.

SHORT VIDEO: Mary Wollstonecraft in Versailles during the French Revolution – Louisa Albani

Followed by…

INTERVIEW: In the Footsteps of Mary Wollstonecraft

216 years after Mary Wollstonecraft travelled through Scandinavia in search of a missing treasure ship, Bee Rowlatt, author, journalist and architect of the ‘Mary on the Green Campaign’, followed the same path set by Wollstonecraft through Norway. The journey resulted in Bee’s book In Search of Mary, which she discusses in this interview with Clio O’Sullivan of Chawton House. Escape lockdown with the OG feminist!

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Bee’s talk was followed by a Zoom Q&A which has since been uploaded.

18:00 Devoney Looser

Devoney is the author of The Making of Jane Austen, Publishers Weekly Best Summer Book (Nonfiction) and the editor of The Daily Jane Austen: A Year of Quotes. She is Foundation Professor of English at Arizona State University and author or editor of seven other books on literature by women. Her recent writing has appeared in The Atlantic, the New York TimesSalonThe TLS, the Washington Post, and Entertainment Weekly, and she’s had the pleasure of talking about Austen on CNN.

TALK: All the Janes: Jane Austen, Jane West, and Jane Porter

In this talk, Professor Devoney Looser considers Jane Austen (1775-1817) alongside two other once-celebrated but now largely forgotten author-Janes: Jane West (1758-1852) and Jane Porter (c. 1775-1850). Looser describes several ways in which the careers and publications the three contemporaries may be compared and contrasted, in order to deepen not only our reading of Austen but to further our understandings of the history of women’s writing and of Regency literature and culture.

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Devoney’s talk will be followed by a Twitter Q&A.

Join the Conversation #ChawtonLitFest

19:00 Gill Hornby

Gill Hornby is the author of the novels The Hive and All Together Now, as well as The Story of Jane Austen, a biography of Austen for young readers. In 2020 she released her third novel, Miss Austen, to critical acclaim. She lives in Kintbury, Berkshire, with her husband and their four children.

INTERVIEW: Miss Austen

It’s 1840, twenty-three years after the death of her famous sister Jane, and Cassandra Austen – alone and unwed – returns to the vicarage in the village of Kintbury. There, in a dusty corner of the sprawling vicarage, she discovers a treasure trove of family letters – and within them secrets that she feels certain must not be revealed. Clio O’Sullivan of Chawton House speaks to Gill Hornby about her extraordinary new novel, Miss Austen, asking her about immersing herself within the period, the perils of recreating Jane Austen’s voice and the debt of gratitude we owe Cassandra.

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Gill’s talk will be followed by a Twitter Q&A.

Join the Conversation #ChawtonLitFest