Good morning my dear readers and Happy Friday!
Today is a day that I have been waiting a long time to share with you because I believe that anyone who loves Jane Austen is going to love meeting today’s guest, Caroline Jane Knight, Miss Austen’s fifth great niece.
As many of you know, I spent last year posting each chapter from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in a group-read on my blog so that I could deepen my understanding of the book alongside other Janeites. When it came towards the end of the book, I had a little bit of a problem… I wanted to end the last chapter in Pride and Prejudice with a post by someone who was connected with Jane Austen in a very personal way.
When I contacted Caroline Jane Knight and I asked her to host my final chapter of Pride & Prejudice, I was delighted to meet someone who is generous, thoughtful, and who conveyed a genuine warmth throughout our interactions with one another. As we spoke about her Austen heritage, it was apparent that she is passionate about her family and loves sharing stories about her great aunt Jane. At that time, I also had the privilege to learn that Caroline was working on her own book; a book that would bring readers back to Chawton, where she herself had lived until she was nearly twenty years old, on the very same estate that Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight, had inherited over two-hundred years ago.
Through our conversations, I was instantly transported back in time as Caroline described her memories of living at Chawton and the recollections of her family as she grew up immersed in the stories surrounding the ownership and history of Chawton House. When Jane’s third eldest brother, Edward Austen, was adopted by the Knight family, he eventually inherited three estates, including Chawton House. Edward’s ownership of ‘the Great House,’ as Jane referred to it in her letters, allowed him to offer his mother, sisters, and their friend, Martha Lloyd, a home in the centre of the village of Chawton in 1809.
Fast forward over two hundred years later, and even though the Knight family has moved away from Chawton, the ties to their heritage remain as strong as ever. Caroline Jane Knight, the last Austen to be raised in Chawton House, has recently released her story in her memoir – Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage. Caroline explored the same places around Chawton House and its grounds as Jane did, dined at the same dining table in the same dining room, read in the same library and shared the same dream of independence.
Caroline’s early life was filled with the delights of living in a sixteenth-century English manor, the good cheer of family gatherings and centuries-old Christmas traditions in the Great Hall of Chawton House, the beauty of a country life, and the joys of helping her Granny bake cakes and serve Jane Austen devotees in the Chawton House tea room. But when Caroline’s grandfather, Edward Knight III (Edward Austen’s great great grandson), died, it was no longer possible to maintain the family home of four hundred years, and Caroline was forced to leave it behind.
Caroline Knight has joined us today at Just Jane 1813 to offer my readers a chance to ask one of Jane Austen’s descendants a question about her great aunt Jane, living at Chawton, the Austen Knight Family or any questions you’d like to ask Caroline about her heritage…
Please help me welcome Caroline Jane Knight to Just Jane 1813…
Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage is available in paperback, hardcover, as an eBook and as an audiobook. I highly recommend this book and audiobook, not only for its wonderful stories but also for its lovely black and white photographs that take you back to Chawton and allow you to explore this journey alongside Caroline. The audiobook for Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage is narrated by the award-winning audiobook narrator, Alison Larkin and is available through Audible.
It’s Giveaway Time!
Please post your questions below in the comments. Caroline will return here in a few days to answer your questions. Your question will enter you in a giveaway for a chance to receive your own autographed paperback copy of Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage, shown at the right. All questions should be submitted no later than midnight, ET on July 29, 2017. I will announce the winner of this paperback book on July 30, 2017. This giveaway is open to international readers.
If you wouldn’t mind sharing today’s post on your social media, I’d really appreciate your support! Thank you to my readers for stopping by to visit today. I’d like to thank Caroline Jane Knight for creating this video for my readers and for offering this unique opportunity to my readers.
I can’t wait to read the questions you have for Caroline!
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