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Thank you for the detailed information on how to visit the JAHM. It's one of those things I keep meaning to do, and your excellent posts have persuaded me to get on and do it next summer! On the other hand, your lovely photos make the trip almost unnecessary...

I'm excited for you. Hurray! The best way to handle the trains in general is to go to the National Rail site: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/, put in your starting point and destination (for London type in London and choose 'all stations') then see what train companies are serving those routes and go to the train company's site to buy your ticket. It's sometimes cheaper and you'll see more of a range of times. For the trip to Jane's house I used South West trains http://www.southwesttrains.co.uk from Waterloo to Winchester (the Alton trains weren't in service that weekend and I was going to Winchester first anyway, but you can stop in Alton). The fare was about 47 pounds total ($75 or so depending on exchange rate). You print out your confirmation email and bring it with you, picking up your ticket at a station kiosk (the one in Alton is outside the station so even if it's closed you can still pick up your ticket). The 'anytime' fare means you are buying for a certain time, but you can change your mind and take another train at any time, as long as it's on the same day and not peak. The website will tell you whether it's peak or off peak. I think that mostly applies to weekdays and weekends are considered off peak. If the train isn't serving the station at any point, the system will match you with a bus that will take you to the next available stop/station where you can get on the train. It will all show up as part of your itinerary in your confirmation email. Feel free to email me with any questions. I should do a post with all this info. I'll try!

Hi Chris,
Thanks for taking me through the cottage again - I want to go back and look at the things I did not properly absorb at the time - particularly the original objects on display - I was too busy absorbing the atmosphere, which was, as you say, peaceful and almost timeless. Here is my favourite picture from my visit.


One day I would like to get your feedback on my writing - I think I'm trying too hard!

Cheers and Happy New Year, Keith

Keith that is such a fantastic picture! Thank you for sharing it. I am a huge fan of rainy days, so good for writing, and you can totally imagine you're looking through Jane's eyes as she stands at the window musing over her characters and what they'll do and say next.

As for trying too hard - I get that. It happens and it's something we don't totally get over as writers. It pops up now and again. The trick is knowing when it's happening, which you do, so you're already in good shape! For me, it's when I care so much about the story or a character that I'm trying not to make a wrong move. But often the story, and the best writing, happens when you make a wrong move. It often ends in discovery. Happy to work with you any time.

Dear Chris,
Thank you for letting me relive my own trip to visit Jane's footsteps! Your description of the buses, trains, taxis, paths, etc. were just so incredible, like someone else had the exact same feeling of excitement and fear of getting lost or of being late, but not caring one ioda once you reached your destination. I too visited those same places and had the same overwhelming emotional experiences. Her grave was the most touching, I lit a candle right near her grave and kneeled down to give her a kiss from my hand. The beautiful words on her grave have stayed with me since I was there in June of 2000. I also had the great pleasure of being in her house with only my boyfriend and no other. We wandered freely (this was before any plexiglass was put around her table) and the back of my hand ever so gently touched the edge of her writing table. Of course I wanted to run my hands all over the top of it to collect her creative energy but didn't dare! Tracing her footsteps was one of the fondest memories of my life, and I will never forget that trip! I can't thank you enough for sharing your experience with us!

I love that you lit a candle, Laurie - wonderful. It's so nice to share this trip with all of you. I know you understand its emotional significance. Thank you for your great comment.

A wonderful account of an adventure that mirrors a trip that I made to Chawton last fall, sans the writing class!
Thank you so much!

Truly wonderful journey you had! And thank you for sharing it with us. Happy New Year!

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About Chris Stewart

  • Bio
    I'm program director for literary arts for my state arts council. I direct the state Poetry Out Loud program for the NEA. I have degrees. I teach writing. I've published my work. I write novels, poetry, and plays. I love chocolate, am talkative, a realist and idealist, prefer flannel to silk, am a real blonde, and consider books my life - reading them, writing them, smelling them, tasting them (yeah, I've licked a page or two in my time. Who hasn't?).

What I've Read

  • Jane Austen: Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sanditon, Penguin, 1974 (intro Margaret Drabble)
  • Claire Tomalin: Jane Austen, A Life. Vintage Books, New York, 1997.
  • Jane Austen: Persuasion - Penguin Classics Series, edited by Gillian Beer. April, 2003.
  • Ann Radcliffe: The Mysteries of Udolpho with intro by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Dover Publications, New York, 2004 (originally G.G. and J. Robinson, London, 1794 and titled: The Mysteries of Udolpho, A Romance; Interspersed with Some Pieces of Poetry.
  • Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey, with intro by Alfred Mac Adam, Columbia University. Barnes & Noble classic, New York, 2005. (1818)
  • Jane Austen: Mansfield Park, with intro by Amanda Claybaugh, Columbia University. Barnes & Noble classic, New York, 2004 (1814)
  • Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility with intro and notes by Laura Engel. A Barnes and Noble Classics Book. New York, 2004. (1811)
  • Jane Austen: Emma, A Signet Classic with an Afterword by Graham Hough. The New American Library of Canada, Limited, 1964.
  • Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice -The World's Classics edition, edited by James Kinsley, with intro by Isobel Armstrong. Oxford University Press, 1990.