July 1817 saw two deaths – of Jane Austen (1775-1817), an English novelist with a solid but relatively modest success, and of Mme de Staël (1766-1817), a long-standing superstar of pan-European intellectual, political and literary life. Over the two centuries since, the relative reputations of these two writers have re-aligned in ways that would have astonished their contemporaries, admirers and critics alike. This joint anniversary provides an unrivalled opportunity for Chawton House Library to bring scholars and the general public together to reflect on the connections, continuities, and contrasts between these two writers’ careers both in their lifetimes and after, and to think about the waxing and waning across Europe and beyond of the literary reputations of eighteenth-century and Romantic-period women writers more generally. We will host a three-day conference, and an exhibition for the general public will run from June to September 2017.
The library has English translations of Staël’s best-selling novel Corinne (1807) and Delphine (1807), plus a fourth edition of Delphine (1818), but the first edition of Corinne was a significant omission from the collection.
Chawton House Library is an independent research library based in Hampshire, in the Elizabethan House once belonging to Jane Austen’s brother Edward. It focuses on women’s writing of the long eighteenth century. As well as a competitive programme of residential research fellowships for scholars at every stage of their careers, it is open to the public who would like to consult our and has an active programme of conferences, evening lectures and events.
This grant was awarded from FNL's B. H. Breslauer Fund, thanks to the generosity of the President and Officers of the B. H. Breslauer Foundation.