Chawton House Library

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A view of Chawton House Library taken January 2008
A view of Chawton House Library March 2008

Chawton House Library is located at Chawton House,[1] Chawton, Hampshire. Chawton House itself is over four hundred years old, and the recorded history of the land on which it stands stretches even further back. From 1996 to 2003, extensive restoration work was carried out on the house and estate, prior to the opening of Chawton House Library as a UK registered charity in 2003. The house is regularly open to visitors, alongside library readers, for tours and during public events. [2]

The Library is now The Centre for the Study of Early Women's Writing, 1600–1830.

Opened in 2003, it has a collection of over 9,000 books together with related original manuscripts. It is set in 275 acres (1.11 km2) of Hampshire countryside, and is used for conferences, filming and more recently as a venue for weddings. The Library works in partnership with the University of Southampton, and provides an important resource for the university's MA in 18th Century Study.[3]

Women Writers[edit]

Chawton House Library is an independent research library and study centre which focuses on women’s writing in English from 1600 to 1830. The library’s main aim is to promote and facilitate study in the field of early women’s writing. Below is a list of some of the female authors whose works are to be found at the Library. The full on-line catalogue is searchable, and can be accessed via the Chawton House Library website.

Novels Online project[edit]

The Novels Online project makes freely accessible the full-text transcripts of some of the rarest works in the Chawton House Library collection. These texts explore broad-ranging themes as satire, slavery, marriage, witchcraft and piracy. In bringing these little-known novels to a wider audience, it is hoped to stimulate interest in these works amongst a new generation of readers. The texts are completely unedited, and have been copied from the originals as accurately as possible. Even printer errors have been retained. This is an ongoing project with more novels and texts being made available online.


Events are held regularly at the library, covering a range of topics relating to the House and Gardens, and material held by the Library; these include:

The Library also offers educational visits to schools, colleges and universities allowing the chance for teachers and students to engage with a variety of themes within a working, historic building. Both a formal programme of sessions and a bespoke service, to study specific areas in more detail, can be provided.[5]

Knight Collection[edit]

The Library also houses the Knight Collection, a private collection of books belonging to the Knight family who owned and lived at Chawton House for 400 years. This collection of books was once owned by Edward Austen Knight, the brother of Jane Austen, and it is known that she used this collection of books. The library was started by Sandra Lerner, co-founder of Cisco Systems and philanthropist.[6]

Visiting the Library[edit]

Chawton House from the driveway

Chawton House Library & Gardens is open to the public Sunday - Friday, including bank holidays. Members of the public can tour the house and gardens. Opening times in 2017 are:

  • Monday – Friday 12.00 to 4.30 p.m. Last entry is at 4.00 p.m.
  • Sundays & bank holidays 11.00am – 5.00pm. Last entry 4.30pm.[7]

These hours apply until 27th October 2017, when the house closes for the winter. Updated opening times and ticket prices can be found on the Chawton House Library website. Group tours are available by contacting the Library directly.

Access to the Library itself is available, free of charge, to members of the public who would like to use the library collections. First-time visitors will need to provide identification. All visits to the library are by appointment only. The library opening hours are:

  • Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 12.30 pm and 1.30pm to 4.45pm.[8]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°07′42″N 0°59′19″W / 51.1282°N 0.9885°W / 51.1282; -0.9885