“Which Jane Austen?” in Oxford and a Few Other Sites


On Friday, July 20, Adam and I visited Oxford. The purpose of this trip was twofold. First, Adam had a meeting with a colleague’s colleague who works at U of Oxford. Second, I wanted to visit the “Which Jane Austen?” exhibit. The words shown above in the picture open the exhibit. After snapping this pic, though, I was immediately told by a steward that I could not take pictures. Boo!

My day began with a visit to the Bodleian Librararies’ entrance gate so that I could purchase a ticket for a tour of the library buildings. Unfortunately, there was a graduation taking place that day and most of the library was not open for touring. Boo! I did take a mini-tour (under 30 min. and a simple walk up the stairs to the medieval library’s hallway and down–actually, a mini tour of the mini tour because the Divinity School was closed). Oh, well. I took a few pics outside so that I could tell myself later, “yeah, I was there.”

At least I looked out the window shown above at left. The pic at right shows the entrance to the courtyard of the “old library.”

I then visited the “new library.” I am quoting these terms because the libraries were touted as such during the tour. The new library is actually called the Weston Library. This library holds the treasury and the exhibit space, both which are open to the public at no charge (unlike the tours). In this space, I found Jane Austen, but which one? Go back to my opening image, and you can guess that I found all of them!


Ha! No one stopped me from having my picture taken outside of the exhibit. 😉 Groovy poster, right?

Inside this exhibit I got to see some of the items I came to England to see. I saw Volume 1 (the first volume of the juvenilia notebooks) and two booklets from Austen’s play, Sir Charles Grandison. I saw letters, books, sheets of paper for a duodecimo volume, drawings, clothing, a portable writing desk, glasses, a plate, and more. This exhibit includes a lot of materials, which is exactly what a visitor hopes to find. I would show you pictures, but I can’t. No pictures. Boo! At least I brought my notebook and took a lot of notes.

I visited the exhibit in two turns because I joined my husband and the professor for a brief tour of New College. Here’s the cathedral:


Then we had lunch with Klim, shown above, in the faculty food hall. This was awesome. I was chatting up the Oxford profs, one of whom was an early modernist in the literature department. Hey, U.S. universities, we need to follow Oxford’s lead. We need food halls with free lunches for faculty (not in a student food hall, either). It would improve morale tremendously to have a meal that starts with soup, proceeds to a main, and ends with pudding. 😀

After parting ways with Klim, Adam and I returned to the library, and we finished the exhibit before heading over to the treasury, which includes a range of items from different time periods and cultures around the world. A few caught my interest particularly. See if you recognize the first:


I was fascinated by these books, too:

The first picture shows a book in which Charles I wrote his name. The second shows his portable library. These books are tiny!

Before Adam and I left the building, we had some coffee at the library cafe.


Then we visited a book shop and the Museum of the History of Science. There we saw a lot of 17th- and 18th-century gadgets for measuring time, the stars, etc. We saw beautiful stained glass and an 18th-century drawing of the moon.

We also saw one of Einstein’s chalkboard:


I won’t pretend to know what any of this means, but it was cool to be in the presence of some Einsteinian physics.

As the day ended, we made our way back to Winchester and called it a night.


One response to ““Which Jane Austen?” in Oxford and a Few Other Sites”

  1. What a fantastic exhibit! It’s lovely how many JA events there are, and strange that so few are in Chawton. The big house wants to be a tourist draw but Alton obviously isn’t set up for it. There are a few half-hearted attempts, like signs at the bus stops or using her name, but they could do a lot more.

    I agree, a faculty dining hall would be great. I wouldn’t mind subscribing to it, even. UT used to have one but I think it was expensive and fell into disuse.

    Liked by 1 person

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