Visiting the Inspirations behind Pride and Prejudice by Olivia Lennox
Nestled away in the quiet English countryside, just outside the town of Basingstoke in Hampshire, is the leafy village of Steventon, where Jane Austen was born and raised. Steventon provided Austen with much of her inspiration for Pride and Prejudice, which she wrote whilst living there. When Jane Austen was born, in 1775, stage coaches to London regularly stopped by on the Winchester Road, formerly Popham Lane, where the young writer would walk with her father and soak in the inspiration provided by the village and its regular visitors.
Although Pride and Prejudice was not published until much later, Steventon and the active social life that Jane enjoyed there provided much of the inspiration for the novel. Jane was a very sociable girl, and regularly attended local gatherings and also traveled to nearby Basingstoke, before retiring back to the family’s 17th century rectory on where she wrote her notes and began work on the book that was destined to become such a classic.
Steventon is a picturesque place, where little has changed in the last two hundred years. The fields where Jane’s father grew potatoes are still there, where the young novelist would have enjoyed playing as a child, and even the original church, St. Nicholas, much visited by Jane and her family, is still standing. Many of the gravestones precede Jane’s birth and a visitor can imagine how the young writer would have walked through the cemetery looking for names to inspire her many famous characters. The local pub, the Wheatsheaf Inn, used to be where Jane and her father collected their post and is the perfect place to stop for some refreshments and reflect on the sights of the village.
While the family home and traditional furniture its are no longer standing - her original home was demolished not long after she died - remnants of the seven-bedroom rectory still exist, with the original railings, which circled the wooden water pump that served the family, still visible. The village is very welcoming to visitors too - the locals are much used to people wanting to savor the birthplace and original home of the Pride and Prejudice author, and are most helpful in pointing out places of interest. For any fan, Steventon is the ideal place to start a Jane Austen tour. Not only can you savor the sights of the village where the young author grew up and wrote her famous classic, but also it is very close to other must see destinations.
|Austen house at Chawton|
The cathedral city of Winchester is 15 miles to the southwest of Chawton and is another essential location for any Pride and Prejudice fan interested in the life of the author. Jane moved to Winchester from Chawton only in the last few months of her life. Here she died, at the tragically young age of 41. She was buried in the grounds of the cathedral and her grave is a popular location for many fans who wish to pay their respects and remember how much she gave the world of literature in such a short lifetime.
Jane Austen Locations (via Republic of Pemberley)
Note: Olivia Lennox is our new guest blogger/contributor here at P&P Blog. Her P&P/Austen related articles will be posted here randomly from time to time.