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It is a truth universally acknowledged that writers loathe people creeping up on them while they’re at work. I have just returned from a visit to the house where Jane lived for the final seven years of her life and completed her masterpieces, Mansfield Park and Emma. The house still retains the squeaking door that gave her time to hide her writing materials if a visitor approached. Not far away, in Winchester Cathedral, is her tomb and memorial – adorned each week with fresh flowers paid for by her admirers in North America. It has taken me far too long to make this pilgrimage to the home and to the final resting place of the creator of Elizabeth Bennet. If you can, I urge you to organise a visit – it is inspirational. When she arrived in Chawton she apparently decided to take out and polish work she had laid aside years before. Thank heavens she did…

Austen House

Austen House

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