Well, perhaps not quite in her footsteps, but after almost five days wandering around Alton and Chawton in Hampshire and touring her home, I would say I likely trod on one of her paths!
Most of you have probably seen the multitude of photos posted to social media and gotten glimpses of our week. I wish I had the words to convey exactly what it was like to spend that time in Jane Austen’s old stomping grounds. Inspiring, exciting, and interesting are words that all fit, but do not quite capture the essence of what it is like for a Janeite to immerse themselves in this atmosphere.
I agreed to Jane Austen Regency Week months ago when I was invited to take part in the book table on Regency Day. I was not a part of Austen Variations at the time, and it was amazing to be included. Since then, I signed up for a few other events and anticipated actually taking part, yet I really had no idea what to expect as far as how the week would go.
I have to say that it was an experience I will never forget! I had only ever chatted with Maria Grace, Cassandra Grafton, Susan Mason-Milks, Jane Odiwe, Monica Fairview, and Abigail Reynolds by email or through Facebook, yet they were all warm, welcoming and great fun to spend time with whether we were stuffing cellophane bags with goodies for passers-by or drinking a glass of wine and enjoying the ball.
We also took great pleasure in learning little facts about Jane Austen, including that our book table was set up in front of a building Jane Austen visited for the doctor and touring the seldom visited attics of her home in Chawton.
Abigail gave a wonderful talk where she was more than happy to share the spotlight, featuring fellow authors in a panel discussion towards the end of the night and including our books with hers for perusal and purchase by those who attended the talk. Susan Mason-Milks and I attended her workshop and were on occasion called upon for our opinion or experience to illustrate certain points. I am still relatively new to writing and publishing compared to Abigail, so I was honoured to be asked for my input.
I also had the opportunity to meet and speak with fellow authors Joana Starnes, Jeanna Putnam-Ellsworth, blogger Sophie Andrews, and online friend Hazel Mills. I could list so many wonderful ladies who I met this week, but then this post would go on for quite some time!
For those who have not been to Jane Austen Regency Week, the event is relatively new compared to the festival in Bath, but I recommend the experience. The countryside is beautiful and there is Jane Austen History everywhere. I loved my visit this year and I fully intend to return next year. How could I stay away?!
If you are interested in more of the sites in Alton and Chawton, I will be blogging them in the Expat’s Travel Guide. I hope you’ll stop by!