Lonely Planet Writer

Jane Austen events sweep the UK to commemorate her 200th anniversary

A series of events across the UK celebrating Jane Austen have been announced on the 200th anniversary the writer’s death. Exhibitions, film and sculpture trails and festivals all feature.

Main entrance to the British Library in London.
Main entrance to the British Library in London. Image by Gerard Puigmal / Getty Images

Austen’s novels, including Pride and Prejudice and Emma, remain enormously popular and are regularly adapted into films. She spent most of her life, and generally set her novels, in the south of England, and events are focused on London and the home counties. They join a host of permanent attractions in the region. Perhaps the highest-profile exhibition is Jane Austen Among Family and Friends, which is at the British Library until 19 February. Items on show include Austen’s writing desk, three notebooks of her teenage writings and family letters.

Hampshire, where Austen was born, died, and did much of her best writing, will be another focal point. The village of Chawton contains Jane Austen’s House museum (her former home) and will also host talks and exhibitions. At Winchester, the Mysterious Miss Austen exhibition stands alongside Rain Jain, a trail based around quotes from Austen that have been written in a special paint – they will only be visible when it rains. Winchester Cathedral, where Austen is buried, is running Tours and Tea, exploring her life.

A photo posted by Simon Mark (@phototoursinbath) on Jan 25, 2017 at 1:10am PST

Austen lived in Bath between 1801 and 1806, and the city has a walking trail, the Jane Austen Centre and – between 9 and 18 September – the Jane Austen Festival. The festival is the largest gathering of Austen fans in the world, and includes a costumed promenade. Superfans who book far enough in advance can even stay in an apartment at Austen’s former home, Jane Austen’s Residence at 4 Sydney Place.

Further sights and events in Berkshire, Kent, Wiltshire, Sussex, the Peak District and Lyme Regis complete the picture, with stately homes and well-preserved villages to visit. Brighton will host an exhibition focusing on Austen’s relationship with the sea.

A photo posted by Liv (@_jabberjawz_) on Jan 25, 2017 at 5:24am PST

Austen is regarded as one of Britain’s greatest writers, and critics still debate her subtle use of irony and complex presentation of England’s class structure. Her portrait decorates the UK’s new £10 note. Most modern adaptations of her novels luxuriate in the Regency dress and rolling countryside of her original setting although some take liberties – Clueless reimagined Emma as a high school comedy, while Pride and Prejudice and Zombies threw in buckets of blood and martial arts.
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