Jane Austen: Behind Closed Doors

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Jane Austen: Behind Closed Doors
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Review

Historian Lucy Worsley insists that looking at where author Jane Austen lived throughout her brief life “can tell us who she really was”. On the evidence of this one-off documentary, I'm not sure it does. It's really eye-candy for property-lovers, including a succession of delightful Georgian homes.

For once eschewing the dressing-up box to wear her own clothes throughout, Worsley stands in a Hampshire field, the site of Jane Austen's now vanished childhood home, before she trots around the streets of Bath, Southampton and Winchester.

An actor plays Jane, reading extracts from diaries and letters, while Worsley sets the homes and the society that Jane inhabited into context while looking to place their influence in her books.

In Bath, Jane had to work hard to fulfil the rounds of stultifying social engagements - usually involving tea and deadly dull gatherings - expected of a woman of her standing.

Summary

Historian Lucy Worsley embarks on a road trip across England to take in some of the places Jane Austen lived in and visited during her lifetime. She aims to demonstrate how Jane's personal experiences influenced the central themes of home and property in her novels, and makes use of detective-work to recreate some of the most important locations that no longer stand. She begins in Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire, retracing a journey that marked one of the many times the Austens veered wildly between wealth and genteel poverty - mirroring the Dashwoods of Sense and Sensibility. Lucy also travels from Jane's birthplace in Steventon, Hampshire, to her brother's grand estate at Godmersham Park - the inspiration for Darcy's Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice, along with Lyme Regis, Bath and Southampton.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Dr Lucy Worsley
Executive Producer John Das
Producer Rachel Jardine
Documentary