August 2017 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Chawton House Appeals for Funding

For those wanting to channel Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, here's your chance to do it and raise much-needed funds for Chawton House, the manor house inherited by Austen's brother. In what amounts to a wet T-shirt contest, (male) participants can don a frilly white shirt, get soaked, and ... smolder. Don't forget to upload the image to social media and tag it #TheDarcyLook. The campaign is raising awareness for Chawton House, which is facing a budget shortfall of 65% in 2018.

House option 3 copy.jpgOur winter issue includes an article on Chawton House Library, a world-renowned research center for women's writing. The property also contains Austen family heirlooms and has become a tourist attraction. Jane did not live in the 'Great House,' at Chawton but in a cottage on the estate (now Jane Austen's House Museum). But next year's dire funding projections have required the launch of a large-scale fundraising campaign that aims to "secure the future of this important historic and literary landmark."

According to the fundraising website, "The reimagining of Jane's 'Great House' into a more recognised, commercially viable destination will help secure the house, the wider estate, and also our unique collection of early women's writing and books we know Jane Austen read in her brother's library."

At a time when Austen is as popular as ever, it's a wonder that an appeal is necessary at all, but with tight budgets on culture all around, it's clearly up to those of us who treasure history and literature to step in. Jane Austen campus, anyone!? 

Image courtesy of Chawton House Library