It is now looking as though the UK can start to emerge from lockdown. At Chawton House, we are planning our reopening, and delighted to be able to go ahead with our Plant Fairs Roadshow in July (with safety restrictions in place). However, we recognize that for many, the significant life changes brought about by the pandemic are far from over. The digital world opened up by Covid-19 has been an unexpected light in an otherwise dark time, and we intend to keep on bringing digital content to audiences isolating, shielding, or simply too far from us to visit. It has been a joy to engage with people across the world in these last few months – as the affable Mr. Weston says in Jane Austen’s Emma, ‘One cannot have too large a party’ – we wholeheartedly concur.

Following the success of our Lockdown Literary and Garden Festivals, we are now launching our digital Summer Series – a series of fortnightly evening talks about Jane Austen throughout July and August.

Our first speaker, on Monday 29 June (7pm BST), is renowned scholar Janet Todd, whose edition of Jane Austen’s Sanditon came out with Fentum Press in 2019. In her talk, she makes the case for reading Austen’s last, unfinished novel as a dialogue with her first completed one, Northanger Abbey.

Her talk will be followed by a live Q&A session afterwards. For more information and to book, click here.

We are hosting the Jane Austen Society’s 80th Birthday Party on 11 July, so our next Summer Series talk won’t take place until the end of July, but we look forward to welcoming Janice Hadlow, author of the recent novel The Other Bennet Sister (Mantle, 2020), to talk about her process of restoring the reputation of one of literature’s ‘ugly sisters’, Mary Bennet. For further details and booking, please keep an eye on our social media and our Whats On page.

Closing our doors over what is normally the busiest time of the year has been financially devastating for Chawton House, and whilst we were able to provide the festivals free of charge, we have decided to ask a small fee of £5 for Summer Series talks to ensure the continuation of our digital programme. Ticket holders will be emailed links to talks and Q&A sessions in advance of the event. We thank you for your support.