I have created this blog to share new research and supplemental information related to my book, Jane Austen, Edward Knight, & Chawton: Commerce & Community, published by Woodpigeon Publishing. All text is © Linda Slothouber, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Linda Slothouber and chawtoncommerceandcommunity@blogspot.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Please feel free to contact me at lindaslothouber@gmail.com.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

About This Blog and My Book...

I am the author of Jane Austen, Edward Knight, & Chawton: Commerce and Community, a new, non-fiction work that explores Jane Austen's world and her fiction through the lens of her brother Edward's life experience.  Adopted in his youth by rich relatives to inherit their substantial property in five counties of southern England, Edward possessed the privileges and responsibilities of a wealthy landowner.

My research has expanded what is known about Edward as a person, as a member of the landed gentry, and as a member of the Austen and Knight families.  By tracing how the values and relationships he acquired in his childhood home in Steventon carried over into his life in Kent, we learn a few things about the family that shaped Jane Austen, as well.  By learning about the sources of Edward's wealth and his concerns and activities in managing his estates, we gain insight into the world of the early-19th-century landowner, and can more fully understand the fictional landowners that populate Jane Austen's novels.  My book shines a light on instances of social criticism and humor that might otherwise not be intelligible to modern readers.

In the second half of the book, I invite the reader to open the door of the cottage where Jane Austen spent her final years--but to open it from the inside and look out, into the village of Chawton as it existed during her lifetime.  The people in that village--tradesmen, laborers, farmers--contributed to Edward Knight's prosperity and benefited from his philanthropy.  As they went about their lives, they were perhaps less concerned with the goings-on at the Great House than we might imagine, and deeply influenced by forces in the world at large:  economic troubles, technological innovations, and social changes.  I have created capsule biographies of some of the people that Jane Austen knew, and have shown how the community as a whole governed itself and changed over time.   

Prominent British scholars of Jane Austen's life, Deirdre Le Faye and Maggie Lane, have praised my book for its unique contribution to our knowledge of Jane Austen's family and her world, and Jane Austen's House Museum has selected it as "Book of the Month" on their website.  For more about the book or to purchase a copy, please visit www.woodpigeonpublishing.com.

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