A major part of Jane Austen’s life experience was gained in Kent during
prolonged holidays that afforded much happiness as well as inspiration and
material for her novels.
Jane’s family were from Kent and many of her relatives
lived in the county. She visited them here while still a young girl and it was later
in Kent she gained detailed knowledge of the country-house life of her time.
Jane’s paternal ancestry can be traced back through seven generations of
yeoman farmers who had established themselves in the Weald of Kent over a
period of two-and-a-half centuries. Jane’s father, the Reverend George Austen
was born in Tonbridge and spent his formative years in this ancient town on the
Our first knowledge of Jane herself being in Kent is when she
was twelve-and-a-half and stayed for a month in the Sevenoaks home of her
ninety-year-old Great Uncle.
Jane’s brother Edward, born in 1767, was later adopted by distant Kentish
cousins. This event was ultimately to provide Jane with great opportunities to
explore the county and its social life.
Francis, the oldest of Jane’s two sailor brothers,
met and married a Kentish girl whilst stationed in Ramsgate. This further
extended Jane’s opportunity for travel.
As well as being a guide to the Kentish places significant in the Austen family
history, this book is also an exploration of the locations Jane knew personally. The
journey takes us to pretty villages, pleasant market towns and the historic cities
of Canterbury and Rochester. We visit great estates where Jane was a frequent
and welcome guest; churches where she worshipped; venues where she danced
and the turnpike roads along which she travelled recounting varying experiences
at coaching inns.
Retired graphic designer Terry Townsend has had a lifelong interest
in English literary landscapes. This latest book is an unashamed
celebration of his favourite novelist. Terry’s previous books for
Halsgrove are Once Upon a Pint, a guide to the Literary Pubs & Inns
of Dorset and Somerset, Kent Smugglers’ Pubs, Jane Austen’s
Hampshire and Jane Austen and Bath. He now lives in Dorset with
his wife Carol and their cat Smudge.
Imprint: Halsgrove. ISBN 978 0 85704 257 6, hardback, 214x230mm, 144 pages. Published June 2015.