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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 secondsRICHARD KNIGHT: Jane Austen is my great great great great aunt. So I reckon I can call her Aunt Jane. Jane was pivotal to the restoration of Chawton House and the creation of Chawton House library.

Skip to 0 minutes and 20 secondsEMMA HILLS: I was named after Jane Austen's character Emma, because my mum liked the name. She liked that she was feisty. She wanted me to be too. And I made this from scratch. It took six months and 200 pounds to make. My mum has one too. And we made them all by hand.

Skip to 0 minutes and 35 secondsANDREW BENTLEY: Jane Austen is very important to my day-to-day work, because what she has left to me is a very rich and varied source of material that I can draw on either when I'm planning on what I'm going to do next in the garden. Or indeed when I'm giving garden tours and I can talk about her work whilst we walk the gardens.

Skip to 0 minutes and 57 secondsJUDITH HEPPER: I used to teach A level English literature. And my students always enjoyed her books. I, of course, always wanted to get them to appreciate the deftness of her prose. So happy memories of teaching Jane Austen at A level.

Skip to 1 minute and 14 secondsDEIDRE LYNCH: What Jane Austen means to me is a source of unending surprise. Because even though I can't count how many times I've read each of the six novels, I find something new each time. It's rather amazing how much she packs into what are, in fact, rather slim volumes by the standards of the time.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 secondsDARREN BEVIN: I started out as a librarian here at Chawton House Library. In that time, I've been lucky enough to be in charge of, well, a secondary collection of books on Jane Austen, as you can see here. But also books that Jane Austen actually read. And even a manuscript in her own hand. So yes, she means a lot more now.

Skip to 1 minute and 54 secondsVICTORIA CLELAND: So I actually went to Hatchards, which is a bookshop where Jane Austen herself had been and I used my first 10 pound note to buy a copy of Pride and Prejudice.

Skip to 2 minutes and 2 secondsSHIKHA SHARMA: As a young girl, when you're reading about love stories like this, it's always exciting and you always hope it's going to happen to you as well. So that's always been something that's drawn me towards Jane Austen's novels.

Skip to 2 minutes and 11 secondsDEIRDRE LE FAYE: Well, she means a reason for a great deal of research. She gradually took over my life, come to look back on it. The last 40 years I've been researching her. I started this in the 1970s. But I don't resent this because she is a delightful companion.

What does Jane Austen mean to you?

In this video, we asked our friends and colleagues at Chawton House and the University of Southampton about Jane Austen.

Others have also commented on what Jane Austen means to them. The writer Virginia Woolf wrote in 1923:

Anybody who has had the temerity to write about Jane Austen is aware of two facts: First, that of all great writers she is the most difficult to catch in the act of greatness; second, that there are 25 elderly gentlemen living in the neighborhood of London who resent any slight upon her genius as if it were an insult offered to the chastity of their aunts.


Watch the video and then tell us your answer to the question:

What does Jane Austen mean to you?

What does Woolf’s quotation imply about her perceptions of Austen?

Tell us in the comments area below.

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This video is from the free online course:

Jane Austen: Myth, Reality and Global Celebrity

University of Southampton

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