Jane Austen occupies a unique position in the history of literature. Experts place her at the highest levels of the English literary canon for her development of the modern novel form and the quality of her writing. Thousands of books, scholarly papers and dissertations have been published about her life and works. At the same time, almost 200 years after her death, her books continue to have wide appeal to the average reader. That appeal has been further expanded by the film & television industries, which have produced almost three dozen adaptations of her works with more underway.

Perhaps best known for Pride & Prejudice, Austen's other major works are Emma, Sense & Sensibility, Persuasion, Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey. Her novels explore the seriousness and the absurdity of the human condition through the ordinary moments of daily life. Although she was very well read, her physical world was limited to England. Echoes of her own experiences occur throughout her writings; the towns and houses of Regency England are the setting for her work.

This Jane Austen layer currently includes over 230 locations, organized into three sections. The biography layer shows the actual places that she experienced over the course of her life from the small town of her birth to estates in Kent through to her final resting place amidst Saxon kings. The second marks the real places in her literary works. The final section identifies the historical buildings used as backdrops for the major film adaptations of her books. The placemarks are annotated with information about Austen's life, as well as quotes from her letters and books.

A list of the currently included places can be found here.

The layer also includes a section with useful links about Jane Austen's life and works. The primary source on Austen is her collected correspondence, most of which can be read in Letters of Jane Austen (1884) collected by Lord Brabourne. Three books that I found useful were: Jane Austen, Her Life and Letters: A Family Record published by two of Austen's nephews, William Austen-Leigh, and Richard Arthur Austen-Leigh; Claire Tomalin's very readable Jane Austen: A Life , published in 1998; and Nigel Nicolson's The World of Jane Austen, which takes a tour through the homes, manors and estates that she knew.

The Jane Austen Society of Australia's web page includes numerous interesting papers on Austen's Life & Times. Two sites which were very helpful in identifying places to include in the presentation are the Hampshire, Inspirational Home of Jane Austen webpage and Jane Austen Places: The Astoft Gallery, a very comprehensive exhibit of places that she knew. The Republic of Pemberley's Austen film webpage provided a very good summary of those locations.

Of course, the most important statement on Jane Austen is the body of her works, which are all in the public domain and may be downloaded/read for free. They can be found here among other places.

I highly recommend using Google Earth for the best experience, but if you have found this page doing a search, and do not have Google Earth installed on your computer, you can access the two major sections of the layer using Google Maps, as linked below:
The Places of Jane Austen's Life, for Google Maps
Jane Austen: The Places in Her Novels, for Google Maps

I hope that you enjoy this presentation. Thank you for choosing to spend some of your time exploring it.

 


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