A mile southwest of Alton – accessible on the “Watercress line” steam train, – lies the village of CHAWTON, where Jane Austen lived from 1809 to 1817, during the last and most prolific years of her life, and where she wrote or revised almost all of her six books, including Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. A plain red-brick building in the centre of the village, Jane Austen’s House contains first editions of some of her greatest works and provides a fascinating insight into the daily life of the author. A short walk from the house is Chawton House, which belonged to Jane’s brother, Edward Austen Knight. It remained in the Austen family until 1987, when it was bought by American IT millionairess Sandy Lerner who opened the Chawton House Library, containing an impressive collection of women’s writing in English from 1600–1830. The house, which has now been fully restored, can be visited on a guided tour, or you can look round the gardens independently. The library is open by appointment only.

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