Katie joined Chawton House as Chief Executive in February 2019. Her role is to lead the organisation and she has overall responsibility for the strategic direction, operations, business development and public engagement in the House, collection and historic estate. With a talented staff and volunteer team, Katie is leading the delivery of Transforming Chawton House, the Masterplan to evolve Chawton House into an inspiring and sustainable historic estate that tells the story of the Knight family and brings early women’s writing to life.
Katie joined Chawton House from the Imperial War Museums, where she led the First World War Centenary commemorations, managed large events, and established a new Second World War and Holocaust partnership programme and the War and Conflict Subject Specialist Network, all as part of her role as Head of Partnerships and Strategic Relations. Katie came to IWM following five years at the National Museum Directors’ Council where she led policy development and projects that resulted in improvements in Government support for museums and much more effective cooperation across the museum sector. At the British Museum, Katie negotiated the loan of 90 Afghan treasures that had been hidden from the Taliban, developed museum partnerships in India and East and West Africa, ran the World Collections Programme, and worked with the British Army to safeguard cultural heritage in Iraq.
Katie is a graduate of Girton College, University of Cambridge, and a Trustee of Ely Museum and the Collections Trust. When not working, Katie is usually found watching Manchester United or the cricket, walking, cooking, clearing her overgrown garden, or on the train to her home town of Bolton.
Board of Trustees
Chair – Louise Ansdell
Louise grew up in Hampshire close to Chawton, including part of her secondary education. She read Classics and English at Oxford, and then qualified as a barrister, practising family law. She is a specialist in financial cases. She is also a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and sits as an arbitrator for financial cases on family breakdown. She is a contributing editor of Butterworths Family Law encyclopaedia and Butterworths New Law Guide to International Adoption. Louise governed preparatory and secondary schools for over 20 years. Louise joined the Board at Chawton in March 2017 and was appointed its Chair at the end of that year.
Richard Knight is the freeholder of Chawton House and Estate. He is the great, great, great grandson of Jane Austen’s brother Edward. They both inherited Chawton—-Edward in 1794 and Richard 200 years later in a rather dilapidated state. In the early 1990’s he sold a long leasehold to the Bosack Kruger Foundation with whom he worked to restore the house and grounds and establish a library and research centre devoted to Early English Women’s Writing. Richard recently retired from a lifelong career as a farmer in Gloucestershire which has given him more time to consider the lives and times of his family including “Aunt Jane”.
Simon Knight is a Chartered Surveyor who specialises in estate management and was a partner of Smiths Gore for 30 years and Senior Partner from 1996-2014. He is currently a Director of Savills in their rural division. He became a Trustee of Chawton House in October 2017. He is also a Trustee of a number of family trusts and charities – Chairman of Governors of St Mary’s School – Calne, Vice-Chairman of Sussex Heritage Trust, Trustee of the Weald and Downland Museum and a Trustee of Impact Initiatives. He is a Deputy Lieutenant of West Sussex and served as High Sheriff of the county in 2009/10. He lives near Petworth in West Sussex
Anne McMeehan Roberts
Anne McMeehan Roberts is a Trustee at Chawton House, Paines Plough (touring “new theatre to all four corners of the UK and around the world”), as well as Chair of Portsmouth High School’s governing body. (She was previously a pupil there leaving in 1972 to study European Languages, Politics and Economics at Loughborough University.) Most of her career has been spent working in the City, latterly running a specialist communications firm, of which she was a founding director. Prior to this her appointments included Director of Communications of the investment funds industry’s trade association and director of Framlington Group and Managing Director of its unit trust subsidiary. She won the Network Award for Business Woman of the Year in Finance in 1992.
Sue has worked in the tourism and heritage sectors for over 40 years. Her roles have included Operations Director for the Princes Regeneration Trust, Managing Director of Tourism South East and Regional Director of the National Trust’s South East Region. Sue served as a founding Member of the South Downs National Park from 2010 until March 2018. Sue is currently Secretary to the Board of Trustees of The Dorneywood Trust, Buckinghamshire.
Professor Ros Ballaster
Credit: ‘Keiko Ikeuchi’ (keikoikeuchi.com)
Ros Ballaster is Professor of Eighteenth-Century Studies in the Faculty of English, Oxford University and Professorial Fellow of English at Mansfield College, Oxford. She first visited Chawton House Library in 2003 and has been an enthusiastic visitor to exhibitions and conferences since, seeing many of her graduate and postdoctoral students benefit from opportunities to visit and study here. She has published widely in the field of eighteenth-century literature and has particular research interests in women’s writing, women’s studies, feminist theory, and oriental fiction. She is the editor of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility for Penguin Classics (1991) and The History of British Women’s Writing, 1690 – 1750: Volume Four (History of British Women’s Writing (2010) . Her major monographs are: Seductive Forms: Women’s Amatory Fiction 1684-1740 (1992); Fabulous Orients: Fictions of the East in England 1662-1785 (2005); Fictions of Presence: Theatre and Novel in Eighteenth-Century Britain (2020). She is a member of the Steering Committee of the Anne Lister Society, and the Advisory Board of the Elizabeth Montagu Correspondence Online project (https://emco.swansea.ac.uk/home/), and also a Trustee of Mansfield College, University of Oxford.
Founding Patron, Dr Sandy Lerner OBE
Dame Mary Fagan, DCVO JP
Professor Isobel Grundy
Mr Nigel Humphreys
Professor Cora Kaplan
Mrs Gilly Drummond OBE DL
Mrs June Parkinson
Professor Michèle Roberts
Mr Alan Titchmarsh, MBE VMH DL
Ms Claire Tomalin, FRSL
Professor Janet Todd
Joanna Trollope, OBE
Professor Richard Ovenden