The district’s beautiful open spaces and rural hamlets have provided inspiration to writers and naturalists for generations.
Most famous of these is Jane Austen, who spent the last, and most creative years of her life in Chawton. It was while living in what is now Jane Austen’s House the she wrote, revised or had published all six of her classic novels; Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey and the fragment of Sanditon.
Other writers who were inspired by the area include:
- Gilbert White (18 July 1720 - 26 June 1793) a pioneering English naturalist, ecologist, and ornithologist best known for The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne.
- Flora Thompson (5 December 1876 - 21 May 1947) wrote novels and poems, and is mainly known for her semi-autobiographical novels forming Larkrise to Candleford.
- Elizabeth Gaskell (29 September 1810 - 12 November 1865) wrote - amongst many others - Cranford, North and South, and Wives and Daughters. She bought a house, which she never had a chance to live in, in Holybourne.
- Edward Thomas (3 March 1878 - 9 April 1917) was a British poet, essayist, and novelist. In June 1899 he married Helen Berenice Noble and in 1906 they moved to Steep.
- William Curtis (1746 - 1799) was an English botanist and entomologist, born in Alton. He published Flora Londinensis (6 volumes), a pioneering work in that it devoted itself to urban nature and went on to publish The Botanical Magazine. There is a plaque on the house he was born in, on Lenten Street. The Curtis Museum in Alton isn't named after him but was in fact founded by Dr William Curtis (1803–1881) in 1865.
- William Cobbett (9 March 1763 - 18 June 1835) was a farmer born in Farnham, Surrey, and was part of a popular agrarian faction seeking to reform Parliament, raise wages, and ease poverty among farm labourers and smallholders. He travelled through Hampshire in 1822 and in his book, Rural Rides, he included a journey from East Meon through Hawkley and Headley.
- William Henry Hudson (4 August 1841 - 18 August 1922) was a field naturalist born in Argentina. He moved to England in 1874 and visited Buriton in 1900. In 1903 'Hampshire Days' was published.
Follow in the footsteps of East Hampshire’s literary greats with self-guided walks in the East Hampshire countryside.
We're also really looking forward to our literary festival which will take place 2-10 October 2021.