Chawton House Presents

The Jane Austen Society’s

80th Birthday Party

Welcome to this free online day of celebration hosted by Chawton House celebrating the Jane Austen Society’s 80th birthday, its legacy, and, of course, the great author herself!

The talks will ‘premiere’ on our Youtube channel at the specified time, with some followed by live Q&As on Twitter. Join the conversation using the hashtag #JASUK80


Time (BST) Speaker Event


Before we begin at 2pm, we invite you to revisit two of the most popular Austen-related talks given at the Chawton House Lockdown Literary Festival in May 2020.

Professor Jennie Batchelor

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.

Professor Janine Barchas

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).

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).

Buy Jane Austen Embroidery


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.

Buy The Lost Books of Jane Austen

 [Click Play All on the top left]

14:00 Richard Jenkyns

(Chairman, Jane Austen Society UK)


14:05 Katie Childs (Chawton House)

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 (Jane Austen’s House)

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.

Reports from Chawton

An update from the Hampshire village of Chawton, where Jane Austen lived from July 1809-May 1817, and now home to two literary houses that celebrate her legacy.


14:30 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.

A Virtual Tour of Chawton House

Visit Chawton House virtually, dawdle away half an hour very comfortably, and hear about the story of Jane’s lucky brother Edward, who inherited the ‘Great House’ and provided Jane, her sister and mother the cottage in the village. On the tour, you will see Edward’s portrait, the dining table that Jane would have sat at when she visited, and the beautiful lower reading room that now houses thousands of books by eighteenth-century women writers, currently under protective film during for conservation the closed period. Drink in the views that Austen would have admired across the parkland, and meet the women writers who inspired Jane’s own writing.

15:00 Professor Emma Clery

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.

The Jane Austen Society, founded 1940: From Grate to Greatness

It all began with the discovery of a Regency fire grate, lying on a scrapheap in Chawton village. When Dorothy Darnell saw it there and learned that it had been stripped from the cottage where Jane Austen had once lived and written her novels it lit a flame which resulted in the purchase and restoration of the house as a place of pilgrimage for literature lovers. It also led to the founding of the Jane Austen Society, which today has a thriving membership and forms part of a worldwide network. This talk dwells on the stories and motivations of the founding members and celebrates the contribution of the Society to knowledge of Jane Austen and her times.

This year, to mark the 80th anniversary, all past copies of the annual journal have been made freely available online: click here to access.

Buy Jane Austen: The Banker’s Sister

If you have questions to ask, you can do so on Twitter using the hashtag #JASUK80

15:30 Dr. Helen Cole

Helen Cole trained as a historian and worked as a lawyer before pursuing an AHRC-funded PhD (completed 2013) on the illustration of fiction in England from 1690-1750, jointly supervised by the University of Southampton and Chawton House. That meant long afternoons spent in the cellar at Chawton, getting to know the rare books collection – it was like wandering through an enchanted forest (before going home to cook fish fingers and help with homework).

Jane Austen in the Attic: rediscovering the illustrated novels

A lockdown rummage in the attic uncovered a set of Austen editions from the 1890s that our speaker didn’t know she had, including the famous ‘peacock’ edition of Pride & Prejudice. In this talk, she takes a look at some of the delights of these densely illustrated and beautifully packaged books, conceived as Christmas gifts.

If you have questions to ask, you can do so on Twitter using the hashtag #JASUK80

16:00 Professor Janine Barchas

(North American Friends of Chawton House)

Professor Jennie Batchelor

(Patron, Jane Austen Society UK, Kent Branch)

Susannah Fullerton

(President, Jane Austen Society of Australia)

‘Our Chawton Home’: A Conversation

Postdoctoral Fellow Kim Simpson chairs a conversation about the importance of Chawton for Jane Austen fans and scholars, sharing memories of visits and favourite items.

If you have questions to ask, you can do so on Twitter using the hashtag #JASUK80


Loving Jane Austen around the World

Don’t miss the climax of our event inspired by Jane’s principle

‘One cannot have too large a party.’

Heartfelt thanks to our special contributors, in global fellowship:

Cinthia Garcia Soria and Constanza Galarza Seeber (Jane Austen en Castellano), Susannah Fullerton (Jane Austen Society of Australia), Adriana Sales (Jane Austen Society of Brazil), Elena Truan (Jane Austen Society of Spain), Cristy Huelsz (Jane Austen Society of Mexico), Jane Austen Society of Italy, Katka Báňová (Jane Austen Society of the Czech Republic), Sophia Thorsen (Jane Austen Society of Denmark) Laaleen Sukhera (Jane Austen Society of Pakistan) Soumya Guntoor ((Jane Austen Society of India) Kazuko Hisamori (Jane Austen Society of Japan) and Liz Cooper (Jane Austen Society of North America)