Basingstoke History: Jane Austen
Above is the only known portrait of Jane Austen. There are other portraits that people have claimed are of her, but turned out to be someone else, or might be her but no one knows for sure. This is the only one we definitely know is her, by her sister Cassandra, and it’s… well, it’s not very good, so we still don’t know exactly what Jane looked like.
The reason I’m posting it is that I’ve decided, after thirty years, to take more of an interest in local history. It just never seemed like Basingstoke really had much history. Normally, people from Basingstoke are just pitifully thrilled to be mentioned in anything, like that line from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or a Monty Python sketch, or in The Young Ones.
But as it happens, Jane Austen grew up in Steventon, which is a village just about 7 miles outside of the town. It’s close enough that we’ll claim her anyway and maybe this summer I’ll go and pay her place a visit.