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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Celebrating Austen in Chawton

Jane Austen festivals are a dime a dozen by now, but Jane Austen Regency Week, the nine-day Austen festival that begins this Saturday, has a special appeal: it’s taking place in the tiny village of Chawton, where Austen spent the last eight years of her life, and in the far larger nearby town of Alton.

The schedule includes fairly standard, always delightful stuff: a concert, a film, a choral evensong, walking tours, copious opportunities to eat and shop, talks on everything from fashion to fan fiction, and, of course, a Regency ball. It all sounds irresistibly jolly. The patina of authenticity supplied by the location's impeccable Austen credentials doesn't hurt, either.

And for a giggle, check out page 11 of the festival program: announcements about sober talks on social and military history, juxtaposed with an ad for a “body and face clinic” featuring a too-much-information before-and-after shot of a cellulite-plagued tush. I think the Jane Austen who wrote the madcap silliness of the juvenilia would have been mightily entertained.


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