Chawton House is also home to the Knight Collection, which is the private library belonging to the Knight family, the owners of Chawton House for over 400 years.
The Knight Collection was compiled over generations, with books dating from the early 1500s, though the majority of the collection dates from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The Knight Collection includes various books with annotations, such as this copy of Mary Brunton’s Self-Control (1811) with the comment ‘stupid’! We know Jane Austen read this book and wrote about its flaws in her letters.
Jane Austen’s brother Edward, was one of the previous owners of this collection, and thus it was a library known to and used by Jane Austen herself. The collection includes Fordyce’s Sermons that is referred to in Pride and Prejudice. There have been many changes to this collection since 1900 but it remains a fascinating example of a country house library. The collection is on loan to Chawton House from Richard Knight.
The collection was documented in catalogues: one dated from 1818, and the second 1908. Both are housed here at Chawton House The 1818 catalogue is of the Godmersham Park Library; Godmersham Park was Edward Austen Knight’s home in Kent.
Knight Collection Database
See the current list of all the books in the Knight Collection [Excel file].
The 1908 Chawton House Catalogue
View the Chawton House catalogue of books from 1908.
File too big? Try these: 1908 Catalogue A-E; 1908 Catalogue F-N; 1908 Catalogue O-Z.
The 1818 Godmersham Catalogue
View the original 1818 Catalogue of the Godmersham Park Library (arranged alphabetically) [PDF].
View the original 1818 Catalogue of the Godmersham Park Library (arranged by shelf) [PDF].
Explore the Godmersham Park virtual library here.
Creating the Godmersham Park virtual library