That Time I Went to Jane Austen’s House

by | May 5, 2014 | Encouragement, Identity


As we step carefully through the threshold into Jane Austen’s house, H ducks his six foot, four inch frame through the small doorway. In tandem with each of our footsteps, a squeak from wooden floor boards creaks open the quietness.

Walking slowly around the dining room table, I move to the corner, stop and linger over simple treasures lying in a glass cabinet and read each museum label. Hints like bread crumbs to the mystery of her character. And I see my reflection as the back drop.


It is what Jane Austen does in each one of her classic stories. She bravely holds up a mirror to the vulnerabilities of humanity with words that grant courage to pursue your life’s calling.

As I turn the corner, move up the narrow staircase, simple vases of fresh cut flowers are the centerpiece of each window sill, greeting us with beauty.


The world knows so little about the woman who penned the words of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Perhaps that is what piques our curiosity and makes her stories classic literature. As I pad through the rooms where she slept, read books aloud and stitched quilts beside her sister, a theme comes to the forefront.

Circumstances don’t dictate the depth or breathe of your influence. God consecrates each of us for purpose.

It is when we measure our worth to that of our next door neighbor that value becomes distorted.

Jane’s family members recognized her gifts and then paved the way for her writing to flourish. From a simple writing desk with a quill and ink well, she faithfully edited her books during the final eight years of her life in Chawton. Two centuries later, her influence surpasses forty-one years of presence so we can remember.






Sometimes identity is distorted because we focus on imperfections in the mirror that are fleeting instead of seeing our reflection with the eyes of destiny. That is what Jane Austen teaches me.

What are your favorite Jane Austen books?

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  1. Elizabeth Stewart

    Now you have me wanting to reread her books!

    • Shelly Miller

      Well, my job here is done now Elizabeth. *wink*

  2. Christie Purifoy

    Oh, I’ve never visited her house. So grateful for this glimpse through your images and words. What a treat! I love all the books, but Pride and Prejudice was the first I ever read. I didn’t grow up in a bookish family, so I discovered it on my own as a teenager. I can still remember thinking, “This old book is so funny! Why did no one tell me about Jane Austen before??” 🙂

  3. Jillie

    Again Shelly, Love your photos.
    To be honest, I have never read Jane Austin, but you have piqued my interest. I once watched ‘Pride & Prejudice’, the one with Kiera Knightly, but that’s as far as my knowledge of Ms. Austin goes. I love her table/desk area with the quill pen. It’s wondrous to imagine her sitting there with pen in hand, spilling her thoughts onto paper. Women of long ago, Writers, inspire me.

  4. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Shelly, I love your line about seeing our reflections with the eyes of destiny . . . it’s like looking beyond what we see in the glass to what we can or will become. I love that. Admittedly, I have only read one of her books, Pride and Prejudice, and loved it. My mother, who has read many of the classics, re-read one of her books not too many years ago, and didn’t like it. Mother loves novels dripping with rich, sensory description and vast vocabulary. Austen’s books seemed very simplistic to her, by comparison–something for gradeschoolers. But I think she was shortchanging the complex depths and nuances of human character that Austen describes. We can see ourselves and attitudes reflected in her pages, lo, even these many years later. I’m still kicking myself for not knowing her house was in Windsor! Ugh. We were told that there was a JA museum in Bath, but had run out of time to see that. We even stayed in Windsor and could have gone. Ah well . . . on another visit! Whilst (I use that for British flair!) . . . Whilst you are in England, I hope you will travel to Haworth to visit the Bronte parsonage and see where the Bronte sisters composed their masterful novels. Jane Eyre is still my all-time favorite novel. Being right there where Charlotte lived and breathed and wrote was utterly inspiring. I’m praying for your trip, and know you are having a marvelous time. And you look very darling in your flowered beret, btw!

  5. Sylvia @ sylvrpen

    Thank you for this. It’s lovely. It’s leaving me with lovely thoughts.
    (And you wear caps like that, too! 😉

  6. Nancy Ruegg

    The truth that God consecrates us for purpose should give us peaceful contentment. Our place in his kingdom is a perfect fit for who he made each of us to be. There should also be rest in the satisfaction that what he has ordained is enough. Someone else’s purpose that looks so enticing and exciting would surely end up uncomfortable and chafing, because it was not fit for us. Thank you, Shelly, for helping me think through the value of where God has placed me, and what he has given me to do TODAY. As for my tomorrows, they are also in his hands.

  7. DeanneMoore

    No doubt it was God’s intention for you to see your reflection on the glass in Jane’s house. I heard the floor creak in my own house not too long ago. I hear it often now and I think it is the way it should be. Thinking of you lovely friend. Sitting with your thoughts today while waiting for Dad’s stem cell transplant to begin.

  8. Lynn Cowell

    Thanks for this glimpse! I love them ALL!

  9. pastordt

    All of them, of course. Maybe especially P & P, S & S, Emma and Persuasion.

  10. Lisa

    A delightful “artist’s date”, beautifully described. Specifically, I heeded your insight on this point: “She bravely holds up a mirror to the vulnerabilities of humanity with words that grant courage to pursue your life’s calling.” To have lived her calling in her era bolsters today’s timid dreamer.

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