This week’s travel dream: Searching for Jane Austen

Trying to retrace the novelist's footsteps through rural southern England will keep you on the move for days.

Jane Austen really got around during her short, quiet life, said Zofia Smardz in The Washington Post. If you try retracing her footsteps through rural southern England, as I recently did, the “ever-elusive” novelist will keep you on the move for days, and remain just far enough out of sight that you had best be prepared to enjoy the passing scenery. “You think, if I can only see where she lived and worked and danced and played, I’ll get inside her head”—and capture the source of the genius that inspires so many other pilgrims fully 200 years since the publication of Pride and Prejudice. But she’s very good at hiding.

My husband and I do catch a glimpse of her at Jane Austen’s House Museum in the tiny hamlet of Chawton. Austen was born not far away in Steventon, where you can still visit the 12th-century church where her father served as pastor. But only when I stand in front of the tiny table on which she wrote or polished all six of her novels does her ghost semi-materialize. “She wrote on this? With a quill pen?” I think. “I’d be forever knocking the inkstand to the floor.” I feel her presence again when we peek into the small bed chamber the 30-something Jane shared with her sister, “but she’s gone again as soon as I step outside the room.”

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.

SUBSCRIBE & SAVE
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/flexiimages/jacafc5zvs1692883516.jpg

Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us