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Jane Austen's Chawton home
Inside Jane Austen's house
The Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton has long been a 'must see' for her legions of fans but with a recent spate of TV and film adaptations, visitor numbers are on the up.
One of Britain's greatest literary figures, Jane Austen was born on 16 December 1775 in the village of Steventon in Hampshire.
Although the Austen family moved to Bath, they returned to Hampshire after Jane's father died in 1805. The family lived in Southampton before eventually settling in the village of Chawton.
Exhibits at the museum
It was in the picturesque Meon Valley village that Jane wrote many of her most famous novels including Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma.
Although all of Jane Austen's novels were published anonymously, her wit and insight into life in the early 19th century has meant her books have had a lasting legacy.
It's not just Jane Austen's writing that's stood the test of time, her home is faring well too.
It is now a museum dedicated to celebrating her life and works and attracts 37,000 visitors each year - the spate of film and TV adaptations of Jane Austen novels has no doubt boosted numbers.
If the museum gets £500,000 in lottery funding, visitors will get to see a little more. Expansion plans include renovating Jane Austen's kitchen, currently closed the the public, as well as developing a visitors centre beside the house.
Plans for a visitors' centre
Jane lived in the house for eight years, with her mother and sister Cassandra, up until her death in 1817. Next year marks the 200th anniversary of the family moving to Chawton and the museum wants the changes in place by then.
Education Officer Louise West explained: "We want to do more ... we're not planning to turn it into a razzamatazz attraction, that would be entirely wrong, but we do want to honour her memory more and perhaps have more events."
If they are unsuccessful however they say crisis management will start, the improvements will be scrapped and those hidden rooms will never get to tell their own stories.
The museum is open to the public and houses many family heirlooms and a reference library for scholars of Jane Austen's works.
last updated: 12/05/2008 at 16:47