Jane Austen 250 will be a real page turner

Planning is well underway to make 2025 a year of celebration in Hampshire to mark a milestone anniversary for one of the world’s most famous authors, Jane Austen.

Hampshire was not only her birthplace, but its people and society provided inspiration for many of her novels.

Next year sees the 250th anniversary of her birth and among commemorations will be special events and exhibitions, including at Jane Austen’s House in Chawton, probably the most treasured Austen site in the world.

Now the attraction – which was the author’s home for the last eight years of her life and where she lived, wrote, and published her novels – has unveiled its anniversary line-up and released admission tickets for the entire year.

While Jane Austen’s 250th birthday falls on Tuesday 16 December 2025, the anniversary programme will launch in October 2024 with the opening of a brand-new permanent exhibition, Jane Austen and the Art of Writing.

Drawing on the House’s collection, it will celebrate the author’s creative genius and show how seriously she took her craft, animating and sharing the physical and mental processes she used to develop her novels – from her earliest teenage writings to her adult novels, inspirations, pioneering techniques, and publication.

Free with House admission, it will showcase the museum’s unique collection of manuscript letters and first editions and use facsimiles of surviving manuscripts to provide a hands-on experience for visitors and to explain Jane Austen’s writing process.

The celebrations continue throughout 2025 with regular events such as guided house tours, guided village walks and virtual tours, as well as a series of mini festivals. Each themed festival will feature special events, walks, talks and tours, screenings and performances.

And special online events will also be staged for fans of Austen’s works around the world who may not be able to travel to Hampshire in person.

The first festival of the year will run from 23-28 January 2025, focusing on her best-loved novel Pride & Prejudice. It will build on the success of the museum’s annual Pride & Prejudice Day on 28 January, the anniversary of the novel’s publication.

The spring festival will run from 1-11 May, focusing on the author’s first-published novel, Sense & Sensibility. A summer festival will run from 12-20 July, focusing on her “perfect” summer novel, Emma, while in the autumn, a festival from 12-21 September features the writer’s last completed novel, Persuasion, with its autumnal themes.

From 13-21 December, a Christmas festival features traditional Georgian decorations, scents and recipes, and will offer visitors the chance to explore the House by candlelight with musical performances and readings.

Special festivities on 16 December will celebrate the Big Day itself, including the museum’s popular annual Virtual Birthday Party – regularly attended by hundreds of guests from around the world who gather at the virtual event to toast the author.

More details about events at Jane Austen’s House, and admission tickets for 2025, can be found at www.janeaustens.house/visit/jane-austen-250/

For more about Jane Austen 250 events across Hampshire, see www.visit-hampshire.co.uk/whats-on/jane-austens-250

All tourist information for Hampshire can be found at www.visit-hampshire.co.uk

Photos: Jane Austen’s House