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his du­ties. Also, it was her ex­press wish that she be buried in the cathe­dral here.”

Austen lies be­neath the cathe­dral’s mag­nif­i­cent gothic nave, the long­est of any in Europe, cov­ered by a simple stone slab that makes no ref­er­ence to her nov­els. Her pass­ing in 1817 went un­no­ticed by the wider world, and when the poet John Keats vis­ited Winchester two years later, call­ing it “the pleas­an­test town I ever was in”, he made no men­tion of her. Austen’s grow­ing renown was to change all that; a brass plaque erected be­side her grave a few decades later de­scribes her as “known to many by her writ­ings” and a stained-glass win­dow was sub­se­quently com­mis­sioned in her honour. Be­neath the win­dow I ad­mire a flower dis­play funded by the Jane Austen So­ci­ety of North Amer­ica. It’s a measure of her enor­mous ap­peal that this cathe­dral, which once housed the bones of Eng­land’s ear­li­est kings and drew massed pil­grims to the re­mains of the revered St Swithun, is now chiefly known as the coun­try’s fore­most lit­er­ary shrine.

Winchester has gone es­pe­cially big on Austen, and in of­ten unexpected ways. I am sur­prised to see the au­thor quoted, “You must be the best judge of your own hap­pi­ness” ( Emma), in an­tique fonts on the walls of the town’s multi-storey carpark. There are more Jane quotes, among them the in­trigu­ing, “I see more dis­tinctly thro’ rain”, at the town’s The Mys­te­ri­ous Miss Austen ex­hi­bi­tion, along with im­pres­sive dis­plays of au­thor por­traits, per­sonal pos­ses­sions and manuscripts, one con­tain­ing an alternative end­ing for Per­sua­sion.

I con­clude my pil­grim­age out­side the house on Col­lege Street, Winchester, where Austen’s life ended on July 18, 1817. A brass plaque com­mem­o­rates her pass­ing, though an el­derly lady sit­ting on the bench in the gar­dens op­po­site, her nose deep in a copy of Pride and Prej­u­dice, pays her the last­ing trib­ute.

Jeremy Seal was a guest of Visit Bri­tain. • vis­itbri­tain.com /au/en Many events and ex­hi­bi­tions have been planned to mark the Austen an­niver­sary, es­pe­cially in Hamp­shire, in­clud­ing The Mys­te­ri­ous Miss Austen (Winchester, un­til July 24), Jane and Her Al­ton Apothe­cary (Al­ton un­til Au­gust 20) and The Navy at the Time of Jane Austen; Fight­ing, Flirt­ing and For­tune (Gosport, July 15 to Septem­ber 20); janeausten200.co.uk. In Bath, the Jane Austen Fes­ti­val will be held from Septem­ber 8-17; janeausten­fes­ti­val­bath.co.uk; janeausten.co.uk; vis­it­bath.co.uk. Other ex­hi­bi­tions in­clude: Which Jane Austen? (Ox­ford, June 29 to Oc­to­ber29; bodleian.ox.ac.uk); Jane Austen in 41 Ob­jects (Chaw­ton and on­line, through­out 2017; janeaustens-house-mu­seum.org.uk); Jane Austen by the Sea (Brighton, un­til Jan­uary 8; brighton­mu­se­ums.org.uk); Fickle For­tunes: Jane Austen and Ger­maine de Stael at 200 Years (Chaw­ton, un­til Septem­ber 24; chaw­ton­house.org).

Jane Austen’s writ­ing ta­ble at the House Mu­seum, Chaw­ton, above left; Pump Room, Bath, above; por­trait of the young writer

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