Jane Austen’s novels are filled with tourism: think Catherine Morland in Bath, Elizabeth Bennet in Derbyshire, the Dashwood sisters in London, or Anne Elliot in Lyme Regis.
Perhaps it’s no wonder, then, that Janeites themselves are indefatigable Austen tourists, making pilgrimages to the writing desk at Chawton cottage, the Cassandra sketch in the National Portrait Gallery, or the various stately homes alleged to have inspired Pemberley.
Unsurprisingly, all this Austen tourism has given rise to a niche genre: the Austen travel guide. A quick search on Amazon reveals at least a half-dozen: Austen-themed guides to Bath, London and England as a whole; walking tours and motor tours; traditionally published, lavishly illustrated hardbacks and slender, self-published ebooks.
Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the recent announcement of a Kickstarter campaign aimed at financing an English translation of yet another Austen guide -- this one originally published two years ago in the Netherlands.
At three hundred-plus pages, Jane Austen’s England, by Dutch journalist and Janeite Karin Quint (read an interview with her here), appears to be more comprehensive than other Austen guides I’ve seen: it covers places across England that are important in Austen’s life and work, as well as locations used in filmed adaptations of her books. Quint even offers four- and five-day Pride and Prejudice-focused tours.
Judging from the online photos and samples, the book seems to be nicely written and illustrated, and the table of contents is a mouth-watering reminder of just how many wonderful places in England can legitimately be included on an Austen tour. Even if you’re just an armchair traveler, the book looks like a useful reference tool, as well. (That’s my story, at least, and I’m sticking to it.)
Plans call for making the translation available only to Kickstarter backers, so if you’re interested, you have to pony up your €28 (about $30 – covers the book and postage to the United States) before December 7.