Friday, June 20, 2008

The holy pilgrimage of a Janeite

I have been a devoted follower of Jane Austen for many years. My story was like so many others. I was a teenager that felt like no one really "got" me. Then I watched Pride and Prejudice. (You know the one. Five hours? Colin Firth? Yeah.) How could this woman, who died centuries ago, speak to my soul like that? From that point on, I was a true believer. You may say my baptism was when Mr. Darcy jumped into that lake.

Being a Janeite has changed the course of my life. Because of Jane Austen, I became an English major and, more importantly, a writer in college. This decision led to my study abroad in London, where I fell in love with the city and vowed to return. You could say, if it wasn't for Jane, I probably wouldn't be on this adventure today.

So in order to pay my respects to my patron saint, my friend Megan and I headed out on a pilgrimage to Chawton. Jane's house in Chawton is where she spent the last eight years of her life and did some of her most important writing. As with any great pilgrimage, there were some challenges thrown into our path--confusing train schedules, lame bus routes, lousy map schematics. But eventually we overcame them and arrived here...


We toured the small house, where we were able to see Jane's bedroom, some family heirlooms, and read all about her life in Chawton. We even saw the small writing table where she did some of her greatest writing. It was a lovely experience.

After the house, we headed out back and ate a picnic lunch in a "prettyish kind of wilderness." The gardens were lovely. A perfect place to meditate and absorb the spirit of Jane. I could picture her taking a turn about the garden to work through a bout of writer's block.



The last stop on our pilgrimage was St. Nicolas Church in Chawton. This beautiful old church is where you can find the graves of Jane's mother and sister, Cassandra. (Jane was buried in Winchester where she died.)



You know what? I think that the spirit of Jane Austen will live forever. I mean, just look at the shrines people are building in her honor.


Jane Austen said, "If adventures will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad." Amen, Jane, Amen.

19 comments:

Stacy said...

Lovely entry and a great tribute to Jane!

Erin said...

And as the person who introduced you to Pride and Prejudice, I somehow feel responsible for it all. No, no, no thanks needed. :)

Romi said...

Oh my. I am green with envy. I *adore* Jane Austen's books. I only wish she had lived longer....

Heather Joins The Roundq said...

How cool is that! I love Jane Austen.

Maybe you should read yourself some Georgette Heyer, if you haven't already. She's the 20th century Jane! Two of my favorites are Venetia and The Grand Sophy, but they're all great.

Jane said...

What a lovely post.

I'm also very impressed you got to Chawton on public transport. I would't have a clue how to do that and I grew up quite nearby - kudos! I've been to Jane Austen's house a few times... it's so wonderful, isn't it :)

You've inspired me to pop a Jane Austen book into my luggage for my upcoming travels, so thank you!

Durrett Family Band said...

I have loved following your adventures abroad. You look so happy in these pictures!

Amanda said...

That looks so lovely! I am glad you were able to make a pilgrimage to your patron saint.

And I second the above comment - you look so happy!

Diane said...

I would love to visit Jane Austen's home...and Beatrix's home and the Victoria and Albert Museum and...the list goes on and on--but since I can't, I am delighted that you have! So glad that Jane inspired you to seek adventures abroad. What marvelous experience!

Laurel said...

I love all your posts, but I found this one most amiable.

I heart Jane. I think we all think she "gets" us.

Heidelweiss said...

Now I've had it! I'm leaving Utah and buying a house in Pemberly Place. I'm renaming Will "Fitzwilliam" and Lizzy can stay Lizzy. I love Jane with all of my heart and I'm so glad you got to visit Chawton. It's a lovely place, yes?

Tracy said...

You made it to Jane's home- lucky ducky. What a wonderful tribute. I absolutely love your adventures. You are amazing!
Love, Tracy

The Kelly Green Rogue said...

So cool! Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book! I'm so jealous!

Nicole said...

Jane Austen's home looks as gorgeous as I have imagined it. It would only be fitting for the most perfect women's author of all time to be surrounded by so much beauty. And to think that you were there to experience it! (It sounds like I'll have to call you up for better directions once I find myself in the UK.) :)

ali said...

I've always wanted to visit Jane Austen's home, what a cool experience!

And I truly love the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice, the casting for that movie is very well done. Well, except for Jane--if you could implant the Jane from the recently done Pride and Prejudice you'd have a perfect cast (In my opinion).

tiennie said...

I must say I love both versions of P&P. Colin Firth and Matthew MacFadyen are both yeses!

Lovely lovely tribute to Jane. I'm so happy that you are on this great path!

Meredith Whitney said...

I love this entry! I love her quote about venturing abroad to find adventures! Jane would love us (of course!). How can I be the BFF and did not even know about your high school obsession that led the path to our meeting in an English class? xoxox

CraftyGoodness said...

Most excellent!

Adam and Bri said...

Oh, Jane! I'm so completely jealous of this fabulous field trip.

Oh, and you're a vision in pink.

Nonnahs said...

How completely wonderful! Thanks for sharing your Jane excursion with us (lots of like minds here, I see)!