Author Jackie Bennett to visit Alton’s Chawton House Library to talk about her book The Writer’s Garden

Credit Richard Hanson

Credit Richard Hanson

First published in Leisure News

AUTHOR Jackie Bennett is to come to Alton’s Chawton House Library next month to talk about her new book.

The Writer’s Garden reveals how gardens inspired the nation’s best-loved authors, including Jane Austen.

The garden writer and historian will read from Austen’s novels and letters to show how gardens, including the historic parkland at Chawton House Library in Hampshire, once the home of Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight, found their way into Austen’s work.

Other writers and their gardens in the illustrated book include Agatha Christie and Greenway, her home near Brixham in Devon, Virginia Woolf and Monk’s House, her 17th century cottage in Sussex and Roald Dahl and Gipsy House, his home in the Chilterns.

Jackie said: “It’s fascinating to learn how the writers used their gardens in lots of different ways.

“Some used them as a hideaway and somewhere to write, including Virginia Woolf, whose writing ‘shed’ is probably the most famous. Agatha Christie, on the other hand, used her garden at Greenway in Devon as a location for her crime stories.

“With other writers, including Jane Austen, it’s more difficult to pin down exactly which gardens are which in their work. What we do know is that Austen was familiar with grand houses, such as Chawton House Library, but her own situation was much simpler.

“She was brought up on a small holding at the family rectory in Steventon near Basingstoke, and then spent her last years at a cottage in Chawton which had far more modest gardens.”

Keith Arscott, development director at Chawton House Library, added: “This event is an opportunity to follow in Jane Austen’s literary and gardening footsteps and trace her journey from her childhood smallholding in Steventon, Hampshire, to the grounds of Godmersham in Kent and finally to the village of Chawton.”

Meet Jackie on Wednesday, September 3, from 11am at Chawton House Library.

Tickets for the event cost £11, or £8.50 for students or friends of Chawton House Library, which includes refreshments in the Old Kitchen and a tour of the listed gardens with the head gardener.

Call 01420 541010 to find out more.

Signed copies of the book, which is published by Frances Lincoln, will also be on sale on the day at an exclusive price.

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