A deep connection: Caitlin’s postcard from Chawton

Caitlin visits the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, England in November 2014

Caitlin visits the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, England in November 2014

Why I went…

This past fall, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Oxford, England. Before I even arrived in England, I knew that I wanted to visit the Jane Austen museum. I was lucky enough to meet kindred spirits at Oxford who, like me, were American ‘Janeites’ eager to make the pilgrimage to Chawton. Austen’s novels have had a huge impact for me: reading her books sparked my interest in British literature and history, which drove me to apply for study abroad in England. I am even completing an Honors thesis research project comparing American and British reactions to Pride and Prejudice and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.

What I got out of the experience…

It is difficult to describe the emotions I experienced stepping through the doorway of Austen’s home. As an American, I have always felt a deep connection with Austen, her novels, and the English culture. Being able to see Austen’s writing desk and the room where she slept made me feel that much closer to my favorite author, and she came alive in a way that she never had for me before visiting her home. After visiting the house, my two friends and I walked down the lane to the parsonage where Austen’s sister and mother are buried. As we walked, we could see a thin layer of mist that had settled over a field filled with sheep, and in that moment I felt so blessed to be in the beautiful country that used to be only a dream for me. It was most definitely the experience of a lifetime.
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