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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 July, 2003, 07:21 GMT 08:21 UK
Austen house opens as library
First floor library
Chawton House has links with the University of Southampton
A manor house that once belonged to Jane Austen's brother is opening to the public later this month as a library and study centre for women's writing.

Chawton House in Hampshire was well known to the famous novelist, who often visited the Grade II Elizabethan property owned by her brother Edward Austen Knight.

Anyone can visit the house and 18th Century English landscaped gardens but access will be by appointment only.

The Library and Centre for the Study of Early English Women's Writing from 1600 to 1830 will house a collection of more than 9,000 rare books and manuscripts.

Visitors will be able to study in the many rooms the Austens used themselves in the house, to give a feel for the 18th-Century period.

The old library
The library holds more than 9,000 books and manuscripts
Austen helped to design the original gardens herself along with her brother, and the shrubberies and parkland have been restored.

Work is continuing on the walled garden which will provide organically grown fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers for the house.

American businesswoman Sandy Lerner is the vision behind Chawton House and has been a major contributer to the project through her charitable foundation.

The academic theme will be in evidence at the opening of the House on 16 July with the second day of a three-day conference, which will be attended by more than 200 eminent scholars from all over the world.

A three-year Chawton post-doctoral fellowship position has been established via the Library's academic partnership with the University of Southampton.

Austen's popularity still endures, with a rare first edition of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice fetching almost double its estimated price on Tuesday when it sold for 22,000 at auction.

The book was one of a number of Jane Austen rarities discovered in a dusty collection by a book expert at Scottish auctioneers Lyon and Turnbull.

Published in 1813, it had been expected to fetch 12,000.

The three-volume novel was sold to an anonymous British bidder who was not present at the sale.

Austen edition fetches 22,000
08 Jul 03  |  Scotland
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12 May 03  |  Entertainment
Jane Austen goes to Bollywood
30 Oct 02  |  Entertainment
40,000 Austen sale breaks record
26 Jul 02  |  Entertainment


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