Sanditon: turn on, tune in, and then head for Hampshire

Jane Austen fans are being treated to a second helping of a TV adaptation of her final, and unfinished, novel with the surprise return of Sanditon to ITV this month.

Written at her Hampshire home only months before her death in 1817, Austen completed just eleven-and-a-half chapters of her last great story before becoming increasingly unwell.

Originally called The Brothers, her tale of the spirited and unconventional Charlotte Heywood was finally published in 1925 when it was retitled Sanditon, after the fictional would-be fashionable seaside resort where the novel was set.

More than two hundred years after her death, her unfinished work was given a new lease of life on the nation’s TV screens when an eight-part ITV adaptation aired in 2019.

While the period drama inspired by Austen’s novel enjoyed a loyal UK fanbase and became a hit in the US, it was cancelled after one series.

But after an international campaign by fans, production began again; and there will now be two more series, with the second season coming to ITV from Friday 22 July – after already airing in the US, and on the streaming service BritBox.

Featuring more romantic adventures for heroine, Charlotte Heywood, again played by Rose Williams, Sanditon returns to Britain’s TV screens for a six-episode run.

For Austen fans, Hampshire offers a chance to discover more about her unfinished novel, as well as the life and times of one of the literary world’s most popular writers.

At Jane Austen’s House, in Chawton – her final home and where she wrote and revised all her novels – visitors can see a handwritten copy of Sanditon, made by her sister Cassandra.

It was written out in three green booklets – just as the original was – from Austen’s own working draft at some point after her death. Cassandra’s copy was passed down through her brother Frank’s family line to Janet Austen (later Sanders), another of Jane’s great-great nieces, and today, this copy forms part of the impressive collection at Jane Austen’s House (https://bit.ly/3NYkoxD).

Known for proudly reminding people that she was “a Hampshire born Austen”, the county has plenty more connections with the author.

Along with Jane Austen’s House Museum and Chawton House in the village of Chawton, visitors can follow a trail that takes in her birthplace in Steventon and the locations in Southampton which inspired her during her brief time living in the thriving port.

The trail ends in Winchester, where she lived shortly before her death, and where she was finally laid to rest in Winchester Cathedral, in 1817 – at the age of just 41.

Further details about ‘Jane Austen Country’ can be found at www.visit-hampshire.co.uk/things-to-do/jane-austen

Photo: ©Jane Austen’s House.