Guest Post – A Jane Austen Trail by Joana Starnes — 46 Comments

  1. Joana, this is a great piece. I live in the UK and have been to The Vyne.

    My review of the biography of Jane Austen by Claire Tomalin, requested by the American Society of Jane Austen Scholars, was quoted on several internet sites. I am not sure that that web site is still available, but Claire’s book gives very interesting detail if you have not had the chance to read it.

    • Thanks, Janet, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, and also that you’ve been to The Vyne already. Isn’t it wonderful?

      Claire Tomalin’s biography is one of my favourites, along with Lord David Cecil’s book. The first is perhaps more detailed, but in my opinion, the latter is a beautiful work of love, full of warmth and the obvious affection the author had for Jane Austen and her novels. I particularly loved the section where he mentions that he was introduced to Jane Austen’s works in his early teens, when his mother read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ to him, in the most perfect setting: the drawing room of an 18th century country-house’ 🙂

  2. So cool to see the picture of The Vyne and get that bit of story after reading Stephanie Barron’s Twelve Days of Christmas that was set there for most of the book.

    I didn’t know about the other connections to the Mitfords and Shaw House either one so that was fascinating.

    Lovely post, Joana!

    • I didn’t know that Stephanie Barron’s ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ was set there.
      I must check it out!

      So glad you enjoyed the post and you found something new in it, Sophia Rose.
      Thanks, it’s lovely to hear that.

  3. Joana, that was lovely! I really enjoyed touring these places, many of which I’ve never been to.

    LOL re the dental practice! Tee hee!

    I love Claire Tomalin’s book, it’s one of my favourites!

    Enjoyed waking up to this today!

    • Great to hear you enjoyed the post! And tee-hee indeed, Cassandra LOL.

      In fact, my husband warned me that I shouldn’t hurry to criticise the lady as she’s some sort of a local hero (largely because she supported her family with her pen, after her father frittered their fortune away). Fair enough, she deserves both praise and sympathy for that. But otherwise, as far as I’m concerned, it’s still very much a case of ‘Touch Jane – feel the pain’ 😀

      • LOL! I love that: touch Jane – feel the pain! 😀

        I’ve never been inside The Vyne (isn’t it NT?) but I have a feeling we went past the outside on our tour of Hampshire last June with Hidden Britain Tours. One of my fellow tour companions may be able to confirm or otherwise, but I had a feeling we did go past it.

  4. I’ve never been to the Vyne, Joana, and now you’ve really made me want to go! That really is justice, I think, that Mary Mitford’s house is now a dentist – wasn’t she horrid about our Jane. I loved seeing all these places through your eyes-thanks so much for joining us as a special guest!

    • Maybe we can go together one day, Jane! Maybe in the summer, when the gardens are in bloom. It’s truly a lovely place that has grown with the ages into something beautiful.

      I’ve later learned that there were several local houses that Mary Mitford lived in, but none of them are now museums. The most they could boast of is a plaque. Sad, in many ways, but…

      Thanks ever so much for all your help in preparing the guest-post and for setting it up so beautifully! So very kind of you, much appreciated!!!

      • Joana, I’d love to go in the summer-though I can’t imagine summer at this moment in time, watching the flurries of snow through the window!
        Thank you for the lovely post-you’ve been a pleasure to host!

  5. Joana, thank you so much for such a delightful post! I’ve visited The Vyne (with Joan Austen-Leigh) but knew nothing about Shaw House, and of course got a chuckle out of Mary Russell Mitford. Being “on the ground” in England all year round gives you such wonderful opportunites. Thanks for your most enjoyable visit.

    • I didn’t know about Shaw House either, Diana, until we visited it one day on a school holiday. I was so surprised and pleased to discover the Jane Austen connection on the information boards about the couples who have owned the house over the ages! And especially to discover that the Duke of Chandos and his second wife had such a good life together. It’s nice to see that 18th century couples didn’t always have cold, calculated marriages.
      So glad you enjoyed the post, thanks so much for your kind words!

  6. Joana, thank you so much for the lovely “tour”. I really enjoyed it and hope someday to get a chance to travel and see some of them. Also I just have to say how I love all your books, but most especially The Falmouth Connection with all its adventure, romance and such an awesome sword fight!! I hope you will continue in your writing? Thank you

    • Thanks so much, Evelyn and Monica for your wonderful wonderful words!!!
      Much appreciated, hugs to you both 🙂

      So glad you enjoyed the tour, Evelyn. I do hope you’ll get to visit someday and see those places and many more in person.
      All the best, and thanks for your comment!

  7. Thank you for starting my day with a laugh, Joana! I loved the little “snooping” into people’s lives. It’s always reassuring to know people of that era had the same kinds of feelings as we did, even if they viewed life differently, I think. That’s what’s fascinating about looking at old diaries. I really enjoyed your post. It brought the houses to life for me.

  8. I’m so pleased, Monica! Great to hear you enjoyed the post and that it gave you a good giggle!

    I know what you mean about the ‘snooping’ and the diaries, it’s such fun. We read about the Georgian high-life and get all this picture of dignified decorum and strict rules of conduct in public and in private, but then we peek in letters and diaries, where they let their guard down, and they are so easy to relate to! They worry about the same sort of things, bringing up children, toothache, even dieting.
    And they love to gossip as much as we do 😉

  9. Thanks for a most informative and enjoyable post. What fun adventures you must have being able to look for Jane so readily! I visited London when I was 21 but my admiration for Jane Austen had not yet begun and all I saw was where she was buried. Oh, what I would do differently now if I had the chance!

    • Thanks, Kara Louise, I’m so glad it was an enjoyable read!

      Hope you’ll have the opportunity to come back someday and tour all the places you’re so fond of and that you missed the first time.

  10. Thank you so much for this tour Joana. It was interesting to know of these connections. The photos bring the information to light. I also enjoyed the snippets from the letter and the information about the drawing. More places to add to my ever growing lust of places to visit when I finally get to England. A wonderful way to begin a Saturday morning.

    • Hi, Deborah 🙂

      Thanks for taking the walk with me and I’m so happy that you had a good time! We must do it for real someday.

      I hope you’ll get to tick all those places off your list and that you’ll have a magical time when you do visit!

  11. Lovely, informative piece, Joana. Thank you for being our tour guide! I saw the sketch at Chawton on my visit there in December. It would be lovely to see all of the other places some day.

    I’ve also got copies of both Claire Tomalin’s and David Cecil’s books. Managed to pick them both up at our local Oxfam bookshop for a fraction of their cover prices. They’re both wonderful in different ways and I totally agree with your assessment of them. If there’s a fact connected with Jane Austen in any way, then it’s in Claire Tomalin’s book. The illustrations in David Cecil’s book. are delightful

    • My pleasure, Angela! Just follow the lady with the big green umbrella 😉

      Yes, I remember you talking about your surprise trip to Chawton in December and I’m so glad you had such a great time!

      I know what you mean about second-hand book shops. I owe at least 80% of my collection to Oxfam and BHF. I almost don’t trust myself to walk in there these days, mostly because at least three times now I came home with something I already had!

      Have a lovely weekend and thanks for taking the tour with me!

    • So glad you enjoyed both the tour and ‘The Falmouth Connection’!

      Thanks for your lovely comment and have a great weekend.

  12. Hi Joana! Thanks for the tour – feels like we had our own personal guide, much like Mrs. Reynolds at Pemberley! Did appreciate the behind-the-scenes gossip.

    Actually I am happy to think Jane Austen may not have fit completely into all that is exactingly, boringly, proper. She did accomplish much more than her contemporaries and how could she do that if stuck completely in a society mold. Good for her to enjoy life!

    Please keep on writing new novels – your visions make for enjoyable reading!

    • Thanks, Dave!

      Would love to be your personal guide anytime, and hopefully one day for real, if/when you and Lawayne come back here again. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and the 200-year-old gossip too 🙂

      I wholeheartedly agree with you about Jane Austen. I don’t think she ever fully conformed to the exacting, the boring and the proper – and good for her too!

      I just wish she were a bit more lucky in love, though perhaps it’s to our advantage that she wasn’t. As a wife and a mother, she probably wouldn’t have had the chance to throw herself into her work as she did.

      Thanks so much for your kind words about my novels (and for all the proofreading too!) and I’ll do my best to keep spinning them 🙂
      Lovely chatting to you and speak again soon!

  13. Thank you for this informative tour guide! I will add these to a growing list of places I hope to visit someday! I think Dave made a great point about Jane Austen not fitting in properly with her times, and that probably did rub a lot of people the wrong way, including Mrs. Chute or Mary Mitford – maybe that explains their seeming disparagement of Jane Austen. It’s interesting also how fascinated we are with looking a diaries and letters of the time period, as they are so rare and we can’t very well imagine social interactions. In contrast today, we have way more information than we could ever want to know about anyone’s relationships with anyone else!

    • So glad you liked the tour, Kathy!

      That’s such a great point, I think it does explain an awful lot about her relationship with these and other people who might have valued form above all else and also might have felt threatened by her astuteness and superior intellect.

      If you’re fascinated about letters of the period, message me on Facebook and I can tell you more about my favourite little snippets of Georgian gossip.

      Loved the end of your comment! So true!

  14. Superb post, Joana. I appreciated your pictures of the estates and all the tidbits of information. Not nosy at all, but extremely interesting. 🙂

    Thanks for taking us on this delightful Jane Austen Trail.

    • You’re so very kind, Janet, as always!!

      My absolute pleasure. So very glad you enjoyed it and please come again. Hopefully one day for real 🙂

  15. What a delightful journey you have given us! I really liked the letter written by Cassandra Willoughby. I agree that Elizabeth could have written just such a letter to Jane about Mr. Darcy! She certainly was able to capture the foibles of people so well but it seems she had a rather diverse group to choose from!

    Thank you for your wonderful books too! I just finished ‘Second Chances’ recently and loved it. I have one more to read ‘The Falmouth Connection’ and from what everyone is saying it’s a great one!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the little tour, Carole, and I’m absolutely thrilled that you loved my book!!

      Ooops, sorry to have given the wrong impression. The letter was written by Harriet, the second daughter of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, to her elder sister. Lady Harriet was deeply in love with her husband and they seem to have had an amazingly good marriage, despite his previous love life.

      Hope you’ll like The Falmouth Connection too, it’s more fast-paced than the others. Thanks for your lovely comment and all the best!

  16. Joana, Thank you for the lovely tour. Very informative. The photos were much appreciated. The excerpt from the letter is divine. It so perfectly captures what a good marriage should be, no matter the time or place.

    • So happy you liked them, Barbara, especially the letter. It’s a great favourite of mine, for the very reason you mentioned! It’s so reassuring to have such a proof that it wasn’t all ‘marriages of convenience’ and staid decorum!

  17. Thanks, Joana for the wonderful tour! Now, I just need to add these places to my “to be seen” list for while I’m here. The Vyne and Shaw House that is. Not certain I have to see the dental office!

    • You’re so welcome, Leslie! You really must see The Vyne if you’re in the area, it’s a wonderful place! And please let me know if you do, I’d love to meet up and tour it again with you!

      As for Shaw House, it’s had a rather long and convoluted history since then, it even was a school for a while. Not a public school, it was the ‘local comprehensive’, because the local school was damaged, can’t remember how, and the students were relocated there for a fair while. Can you imagine going to school in a place like this? I wouldn’t have called in sick for a single day 😀 So anyway, the building is very pretty, there is some amazing panelling in some of the rooms but, unlike most country houses, it’s unfurnished, which is a bit of a shame.
      Thanks for your comment and best of luck!

  18. We definitely need to do this for real, Joana. Dentist office? Chuckle! Thank you for the information and the pictures. If you ever get tired of Regency, you can do a travelogue. (Hope that never happens!)

    • With any luck, Joy, in my old age I’ll buy a caravan and get all the National Trust houses ticked off my list.

      That’ll be a good time for a travelogue 🙂

      So glad you enjoyed the post!

  19. Wonderful post, Joana! I’ve heard some of those stories before, but how fun is it to place a connection and location to them! Thank you so much for sharing! I agree with Joy, with your travel experience, wealth of knowledge, and engaging personality, you could give Jane Austen tours all over England!! I’d definitely sign up for that!

    Love the new look, AV! It is very refined and elegant! 😀

    • Thanks so much, Meredith! That’s something I’d love to do. What could be more fun than driving around the country with Jane Austen enthusiasts and talking about our favourite subject?

      So when are you back for your next tour 😉 ?

      Soo, I hope!!!! Hugs!

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