Earlier this year, I spent some time at Chawton House in Hampshire. It belonged to Jane Austen’s brother; she lived nearby in the village of Chawton and visited regularly.
I was asked to write a few poems as part of their exhibition celebrating 200 years since the publication of Emma. This week, Chawton House has been releasing one poem a day on their website, showing pictures of where the poems were written (two in the house and two in the garden).
The four poems that came out of this are an unashamed modern response to how I imagined I would feel, living the life that Jane did. I didn’t conceal how frustrated I would be with the constraints placed on women at that time. I am convinced she felt the same frustrations, to a degree.
Now if you visit, you can read them all in a printed pamphlet, in the place they were written. Their Emma at 200 exhibition runs until 25th September.
All four poems are on the Chawton House Library site (you can scroll through on that site, but I’ve put individual links below):
I’ll be reading these four poems, plus others inspired by locations and events in Hampshire, on Thursday 8th September at the River Cottage Canteen, Abbey Mill, Winchester, in a Heritage Day event at 7pm, together with poets Stephen Boyce and Robyn Bolam.