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Exploring Austen’s England

Beth Pattillo describes how walking in Jane Austen’s footsteps helped her learn more about her.


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[MUSIC PLAYING] I think walking in Jane Austen’s footsteps was one of the best things that I could have done to write the books because it gave me a feel for not only the atmosphere, but to just see the buildings, walk in the church that her father pastored when she was growing up, which is actually where I got the idea for the plot behind “Jane Austen Ruined My Life.” To see her house at Chawton where she lived the last part of her life, and to see the little desk where she wrote some of the greatest novels in the English language. 

I think seeing the desk where she wrote those novels was probably the most moving thing, because it was just a little table by the window looking over the village street. And we think about writer’s offices today and all the books and all the equipment. And she just had her pen and her paper and her small little table. And I thought that was very moving. And all around me, the women who were there visiting were all in tears. We’re all crying. It was like the holy grail. 

There is one place in the books that I’ve never been that I had to do just with research. And that’s more difficult to make it feel authentic. There’s something about just being in the place that lends so much to trying to recreate that atmosphere on the page. 


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