HAMP­SHIRE HEAVEN

Countryfile Magazine - - Jane Austen -

Jane adored the coun­try­side of her na­tive Hamp­shire so much that she “would some­times say she thought it must form one of the joys of heaven”.

From her first home in Steven­ton, she would walk the lanes to visit friends in other cler­i­cal fam­i­lies, or up the high street to the coach­ing inn to pick up the post. When it was wet, she wore clumpy, noisy ‘pat­tens’ or wooden clogs, held on over nor­mal shoes by an iron ring. She en­joyed a good freeze in win­ter be­cause it made it eas­ier to walk over the mud.

Jane’s hero­ines are bold walk­ers: Lizzy Ben­net leaps hedges to reach her sick sis­ter in Pride and Prej­u­dice, Emma Watson tells a stupid aris­to­crat in The Wat­sons, who thinks ladies shouldn’t walk, but ride, that rid­ing is far too ex­pen­sive. “Fe­male Econ­omy will do a great deal, my lord,” she says, “but it can­not turn a small in­come into a large one.” Jane her­self could never af­ford a horse. As she grew older, though, and her strength be­gan to fail, she did drive about in a don­key car­riage.

Un­like a grand lady in a big house, Jane Austen, a farmer’s daugh­ter, was more than fa­mil­iar with the dif­fi­cul­ties of scratch­ing a liv­ing from the soil.

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