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?
Whether short story, novel, children’s book or memoir, every story needs these elements. Find out what they are!
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.
Caroline Jane Knight is Jane Austen’s fifth great niece and among the last of the Austen family descendants to live at Chawton House. Caroline has had a career in marketing which took her to Australia in 2008. Caroline was a finalist in the Telstra Businesswoman of the Year Awards in 2012 and the same year was made an honorary life fellow of the Australian Institute of Management. Caroline is founder and chair of the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation and owner of The Greyfriar Group, a marketing and events business. In 2017 Caroline published her memoir Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage about her childhood at Chawton House, available at the Chawton House online shop.
Chawton House is many things to many people – to Caroline it will always be home. As a direct descendant of Jane’s brother, Edward Knight, Caroline grew up at Chawton House while it was still her family’s private home. Caroline’s early life was filled with the delights of living in a sixteenth-century English manor, the good cheer of family gatherings and centuries-old Christmas traditions in the Great Hall, the beauty of a country life, and the joys of helping her Granny bake cakes and serve Jane Austen devotees in the Chawton House tea room. When she was seventeen, Caroline and her family left the home her family had lived in for centuries, following the death of her grandfather, Edward Knight III. In this talk Caroline will share some of her most precious memories of her childhood at Chawton House and the writing of Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage over 25 years later.
Caroline’s talk will be followed by a Twitter Q&A.
Join the conversation #ChawtonLitFest
Martin Caddick retired from PwC in 2017, and is now able to devote his time to his great interest in both history and literature. He has been researching the history of Chawton House in depth, drawing on the records in the house and those shared by various members of the Knight family, as well as public records and the collective knowledge of the guides. Documenting his findings is a project that has already taken two years, and is expected to continue for several more.
TALK: The Secrets of Chawton House
Chawton House is best known as a manor owned by Jane Austen’s brother, Edward. But its history is so much more richer than just an inspiration for one of our greatest writers. This is also where kings of England once hunted. This talk is a selection of secrets and stories from 800 years of history at Chawton House – from orphans to Austens, from Gretna Green to gardens and ghosts, from poisoners to the Game of Thrones – we have it all!
Martin’s talk will be followed by a Twitter Q&A with him and the Chawton House staff.
Join the conversation #ChawtonLitFest
Kimberley is Collections and Marketing Manager at Gilbert White’s House in Selborne, a neighbouring village to Chawton in Hampshire.
TALK:Hecky & Whitibus: The friendship of Hester Chapone and Gilbert White
One is a Hampshire rural parson, who revolutionised the way in which we see the natural world, the other was an early bluestocking, writer and critic who revolutionised female education, yet these two remarkable people were firm friends long before their pioneering legacies had begun. This talk explores the surprising relationship between Hester Chapone and Gilbert White.
Katie Childs & Lizzie Dunford
Katie Childs joined Chawton House as Chief Executive in February 2019. Prior to this she was Head of Partnerships and Strategic Relations at the Imperial War Museum and has previously held roles at National Museum Directors’ Council and the British Museum.
Lizzie Dunford started her new position as Director of Jane Austen’s House in April 2020. Prior to this, she was the operations manager at Chiltern Open Air Museum and previously served in various conservation and management positions for organisations including the National Trust.
DISCUSSION: The literary houses of Chawton
In this discussion the two Director’s of Chawton’s literary houses will discuss how a small village in Hampshire has become a literary destination and the influence of Jane Austen at both properties in the village.
The discussion will be followed by a Twitter Q&A with both Directors.
Emma Clery is Professor of English Literature at Uppsala University and author of Jane Austen: The Banker’s Sister (Biteback, 2017) and Eighteen Hundred and Eleven: Poetry, Protest and Economic Crisis(CUP, 2017). She is a Trustee of the Jane Austen Society, and is currently launching a new literary society, The Mary Wollstonecraft Fellowship.
TALK: Women Writers and Literary Societies: Love and Knowledge
The year 2020 marks the 80th anniversary of the Jane Austen Society. As part its celebrations, Trustees will be launching an open access portal to the Annual Reports, a treasure trove of articles about every conceivable aspect of Jane Austen’s family history, life, and writings. Lockdown seems a good moment to consider another side to the activity of many societies, not least the JAS: producing and communicating knowledge beyond academic study, as part of a wider ecosystem of lifelong education and research.
Even at a time when we can’t meet physically, we can access and enjoy the scholarly detective work and stimulating perspectives on Austen’s work of members and associates past and present. What about launching some new societies to bring together fans of less well-known historical women writers? Which writer would you pick? Check out the Alliance of Literary Societies website to see existing ones.
Janet Todd is an internationally renowned novelist and academic, best known for her non-fiction feminist works on women writers including Jane Austen, Aphra Behn and Mary Wollstonecraft. In recent years, she has turned her hand to writing novels, publishing Lady Susan Plays the Game, a Jane Austen spin-off, in 2013 and A Man of Genius in 2016 and her novel Don’t You Know There’s a War On!
TALK: Don’t You Know There’s A War On!
Join Professor Janet Todd as she reads from her new novel, Don’t You Know There’s A War On!(Fentum Press).
Joan is a widow, an outsider in post-Second-World War England, bereft of its empire and global status. She lives with her only daughter, Maud, angrily conforming to a culture she feels has left her behind. When Maud is threatened, Joan begins a diary to make sense of her alienated past, before and during the War. Giving rein to a loathing for the society that has thwarted her aspirations, she is merciless, her writing often sublimely funny; but Joan has a secret, never confided, which binds Maud to her. As Joan chronicles her life, her observations reveal psychological dramas, which, once uncovered, lead to a shocking conclusion.
Gillian Dow is Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Southampton. She has a long association with Chawton House, from 2014-2019 as its Executive Director. She has published widely on Austen and her contemporaries, and is currently writing a book on women translators in Romantic-Period Britain and France.
TALK: John Murray II and his Literary Ladies
The publisher John Murray II (1778-1843) may, perhaps, be best-known to admirers of Jane Austen for her words about him: “a rogue, of course, but a civil one”. In his own age, Murray was better known as the publisher of many other authors of the Romantic-Period. His ‘four o’clock friends’ – hosted at 50 Albemarle Street – were famous for gathering together like-minded people for literary discussion and networking. It was at one of these events that Lord Byron met Walter Scott. But what of the women who wrote for the House of Murray, Austen’s contemporaries? In this talk, Gillian Dow will introduce you to some of John Murray’s female friends, thanks to recent research funded by the Leverhulme Trust, and carried out in the archives at the National Library of Scotland.
Gillian’s talk was followed by a Zoom Q&A.
Professor Barchas is President of the North American Friends of Chawton House.
She holds the Louann and Larry Temple Centennial Professorship in English Literature at the University of Texas at Austin. In addition to publishing academic books and articles about eighteenth-century novelists up through and including Jane Austen, she has also written for The New York Times, Washington Post, Literary Hub, and Los Angeles Review of Books.
She is currently a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies.
Her most recent book is The Lost Books of Jane Austen (2019).
TALK: Jane Lost in Translation, a lockdown talk about reading Austen on location
Professor Janine Barchas will showcase a range of cheap and quirky translations of Jane Austen in French, Italian, and Spanish. Many of these neglected translations either did not make it into her The Lost Books of Jane Austen (JHUP, 2019) or came to light after her publication went to press. Barchas is a champion of the inexpensive reprintings that did the heavy lifting of raising Austen into the canon.
Professor Barchas’s talk was followed by a Zoom Q&A.
Jennie Batchelor started her career as the very first Chawton House Library Postdoctoral Fellow. She is currently Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies at the University of Kent. Jennie has written widely on women’s writing, eighteenth-century dress and early women’s magazines. She has appeared on the New Statesman’s Hidden Histories podcast, BBC Radio 4, and was interviewed for Lucy Worsley’s Jane Austen: Behind Closed Doors. Jennie is Patron of the Kent branch of the Jane Austen Society.
TALK: Jane Austen & Embroidery
We know that Jane Austen was as skillful with a needle as she was with a pen. She was a keen amateur embroiderer who was praised for being so ‘excellent in satin stitch’ that she would have put ‘a sewing machine to shame’. Jane’s letters document her embellishing caps and gowns while trying and failing to guard the patterns so that her friends couldn’t mimic her style. But where she did get her patterns from? The most likely source is the Lady’s Magazine (1770-1832), a hugely successful women’s magazine that Jane Austen read and that for 50 years provided readers with monthly embroidery patterns. In this talk, Jennie Batchelor discusses her chance discovery of some of these presumed lost patterns and the new book she has written with Alison Larkin, Jane Austen Embroidery (2019).
Hilary Davidson is a dress, textile and fashion historian and curator. Her work encompasses making and knowing, things and theory, with an extraordinary understanding of how historic clothing objects come to be and how they function in culture.
Hilary is equally skilled in analysing historical and archaeological material culture artefacts; presenting engaging, fascinating talks to diverse audiences; and producing influential academic research.
TALK: Dress in the Age of Jane Austen
Join fashion historian Hilary Davidson as she explores Regency dress, clothing, fashion and sewing through the lens of Jane Austen’s life and writings. Hilary’s beautiful book Dress in the Age of Jane Austen (Yale University Press, 2020) focuses on the long Regency between the years 1795 and 1825, a period with accelerated change which saw Britain’s turbulent entry into the modern age, and clothing reflected these transformations. Hilary uses Jane Austen’s famously observant fictional writings, as well as her letters, as the entry point for examining the Regency age’s rich complexity of fashion, dress, and textiles for men and women in their contemporary contexts.