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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe


The universe of Jane Austen podcasts is hardly underpopulated. You can choose from titles like AustenTherapy, Bonnets at Dawn, First Impressions, or literally dozens more.

That wealth of options apparently hasn’t discouraged the Jane Austen Society of North America from joining the fray, however: Last week, JASNA launched Austen Chat, a monthly interview podcast hosted by freelance writer and editor Breckyn Wood.

Wood’s first guest was Lizzie Dunford, the director of Jane Austen’s House in Chawton, Hampshire, where Austen spent the last eight years of her life and wrote or revised all six of her published novels. The forty-minute conversation proved to be a charming and informative summation of all the reasons that the house, commonly known as Chawton cottage, remains England’s most beloved Austen shrine.

“Jane Austen’s House is the only fully authentic Austen experience you can have anywhere in the world,” Dunford said. “You are walking through the rooms as she would have known them.”

In the conversation, Dunford highlighted some of the digital programming that the House developed during the pandemic and provided entertaining behind-the-scenes tidbits about museum operations, from proper dusting technique (fold the towel so its edges won’t catch on anything breakable) to the joys of floor maintenance. (“We love waxing the floorboards, so we really nourish them. . . . That’s the highlight of the year, is polishing the floorboards.”)

No word yet on the identities of future guests, but Austen Chat is off to a good start. I’m not sure the world was crying out for yet another Austen podcast, but hey: You can never have too much Jane Austen, right?

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