....welcome to my blog on writing, reading and living in London ......

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Helllooooo, I'm back!!!!

After ages and ages away, I'm finally back again in the blogosphere. I know that isn't world shattering info for most of you but it's a huge step for me because I've been away so long. I've been doing other things like writing, mainly. But also helping to set up another blog of pocket novel writers called thepocketeers.blogspot.com.

I have really missed doing my own blog though, so here's a new post to start me off again and my mission is to blog regularly and hopefully about interesting stuff! So, here goes.... Over Easter, I visited Jane Austen's house at Chawton in Hampshire. It really is a fantastic small museum which has been beautifully looked after. The village it is in has barely changed since Austen's time and being inside that superbly proportioned house surrounded by things like a patchwork quilt which was worked by Jane's own hand really did make her era come alive. I was struck by how modest the house was in comparison to the people Jane often wrote about. Here was not a country estate, or even a small stately home. It was just a reasonably generous family home which she shared with her sister, mother and family friend. Even though she was earning something from her books, she still had to accept the loan of this house from her brother and moved many times in her life, being at the mercy of others to house her and her dearest relatives. There was no room for dances or grand dinners and Jane must have felt very much the poor relation compared to her brothers some of whom had done really exciting things around the world in the navy or had been given the advantages of a large country estate.

I often think that seeing where someone lives tells you so much about them. The thing I loved most was a tiny little wooden table at which Jane purportedly wrote. This was placed next to the window and it was lovely to think of her scribbling away and watching the world pass by her door - a world about which we still love reading today.

Here are two photos of such personal things that I thought they were rather touching. First of all some babies bonnets lovingly and delicately worked by ladies of the day, all the more poignant because Jane died unmarried and childless. Secondly a patchwork quilt, still vibrantly colourful with fabric that may have been worn by Jane herself.


Anonymous said...

Glad to see you are back - I've missed your posts.

Kate Jackson said...

Thanks for this post,Cara. Jane Austen's house sounds like a fabulous place. I love seeing historical homes still set out in their period. It makes you get a real feel for the person and the place.

Cara Cooper said...

Thank you anonymous, it's nice to be back! Kate you are so right, a sense of place can give you a sense of time too. The other thing I'm determined to do before it closes is go to the Museum of London's Dickens exhibition which sounds fascinating. I've also never been to any of his houses but they're definitely on my list of things to do. So many things to do, so little time.....!

Chris Stovell said...

Those are very touching photos - very immediate, actually. I really should visit Jane Austen's house - it's one of those places I've taken for granted in some respects, but your post is a reminder to make a determined effort to Do It.

Congratulations on all the writing - sometimes it's too easy to blog as distraction, well, it is for me!

Rena George said...

Hi Cara, glad to have found your blog.
I so agree that seeing where someone lived tells you so much about them.
A really special place here in Yorkshire is the Bronte Parsonage in Haworth.
Visiting it is like taking a step back in time.
It’s not difficult to imagine the three sisters, Charlotte, Emily and Anne, moving about the house, their long skirts sweeping the stairs as they moved.
The tiny dining room, where the sisters did most of their writing, looks exactly as it did when the three of them walked around the table reading and discussing their work.
To stand in the very room where Cathy and Heathcliffe were ‘born’, and Jane Eyre was created, is really quite moving..

Cara Cooper said...

Hi Chris, you really should try to make it to Chawton. There's also a pub across the road which reputedly does great food! Your blog's really good, loved the china tea service the other day, but I admit blogging is incredibly time consuming.

Hi Rena - I LOVE the parsonage at Haworth although I haven't been for years. When we were there, we were staying at a B&B on the edge of the moors which purported to be one of the settings in a Bronte novel although I can't remember which now, it was so many years ago. That whole area is very atmospheric though and even more so in the winter when there are slightly fewer other people going to look.