Deborah Yaffe

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New views at Chawton House

By Deborah Yaffe, Feb 3 2020 02:00PM

The reimagining of Chawton House, the Austen-connected stately home and research library in Hampshire, England, continues apace – which is good news for Janeites.


In the latest dispatch from the trenches, Emma Yandle, Chawton’s new curator and collections manager, stars in a video aimed at North American donors that highlights the ongoing effort to rehang Chawton’s collection of portraits of female writers, artists, and actors. The new arrangements wlll make the best work more accessible to visitors and emphasize connections among the women who made the paintings and those depicted in them, Yandle explains.


The seven-minute video is an amateur effort, complete with shaky camera movements and inconvenient lights reflected off painted surfaces, but Yandle, barely a month into her job, communicates an infectious enthusiasm for Chawton’s potential.


As blog readers will recall, Chawton House, a library for the study of early English writing by women, which is housed in an Elizabethan mansion once owned by Jane Austen’s older brother Edward Knight, has weathered a tough few years since its founder and chief patron, Silicon Valley gazillionaire Sandy Lerner, withdrew her financial support. Fingers crossed that brighter times lie ahead.


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