Pride and Prejudice – Winchester launches its tourism campaign for 2013

Press Release: 30/11/2012

Colin Firth in Pride and Prejudice

Winchester City Council is launching a campaign to promote tourism attractions with links to Jane Austen in and around the district to mark the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice in 2013.

Austen received her first printed copy of the book on 29 January 1813. She originally drafted the novel in Steventon and then revised it in her beloved home in Chawton, East Hampshire – now Jane Austen’s House Museum. Visitors flock to the museum to see the original table at which the novels were painstakingly written by quill and continue on to her final resting place, Winchester Cathedral.

Two hundred years after its publication Pride and Prejudice has been declared The British Library’s ‘most adopted’ title in its successful fund-raising campaign that allows contributors to sponsor a particular title, and regularly tops the charts as Britain’s favourite novel.

The Museum, along with Chawton House Library, once the property of Austen’s younger brother Edward, Winchester Cathedral and Hinton Ampner are all looking to commemorate the anniversary in a year of special events including special tours, talks and exhibitions. In addition to seminars, evenings and tours focussing on the life and literature of Austen herself, there will also be more general period themed events such as a ball staged by Hampshire Regency Dancers and an exhibition featuring the costumes from the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Madelaine Smith, from Jane Austen’s House Museum said,

“When the 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was aired, we experienced a 175% increase in the number of visitors to the museum – peaking at 55,000 per year. The appeal of the museum has endured, year on year, partially due to the screen adaptations of the books but also because we’ve developed the offering to visitors with a new education centre and by including richer period detail in the rooms. We recognise the importance of this date as a seminal point in Jane Austen’s career as a writer and are planning lots of exciting events at her home in Chawton. Between January and May the original Thomson illustrations will be exhibited alongside the famous letter to Cassandra from January 1813, creating a new trail through the house. And the original costume from the BBC adaptation will be on display between October and December.”

Cllr Rob Humby, Deputy Leader of Winchester City Council and Portfolio Holder for Strategic Planning, Economic Development and Tourism said,

“Winchester is a key landmark in any homage to Jane Austen – the cathedral is her final resting place and her last home was in College Street. We’ve long recognised the potential to the tourism economy in promoting our Austen connections, and the Visit Winchester and heart of Hampshire Destination Management Partnership has been quick off the mark, working together with the private sector to ensure we make the most of this anniversary. This successful public/private business model is ensuring the continued development of tourism locally and we are grateful to the ongoing support from the tourism businesses in both Winchester and East Hampshire Districts.”