Chawton House launches new permanent gallery for women writers
Opening on 2 March 2020 will be new permanent galleries dedicated to early women writers, highlighting key figures from the house’s unique library collection. Visitors can delve into the fascinating stories of women such as Mary Robinson, Frances Burney, Maria Graham and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and find out what drove them to write, what they wrote about, and how they challenged contemporary perceptions of their sex. These women wrote not just about their own lives and experiences, but campaigned for the plights of others, created whole worlds through their fiction and poetry.
This year’s annual exhibition Man Up! is a celebration of 18th and 19th century women who dared to step outside of traditional female roles and make their mark in a man’s world. By picking up a pen, pistol or sword, they broke with convention to survive and thrive. Out of necessity or choice, to seek glory or escape the fetters of a restrictive life – there were those who kept control over their inheritance, unashamedly sought fame, adopted fake names, took to the high seas, or even joined the army! Disregarding the confines of societal expectation, these pioneering women harnessed their fate and sought control over their narrative. Chawton House holds many of these accounts within the collection, some true, others fictional, all fascinating.
The exhibition also considers the lives of writers such as the Brontë sisters and George Sands who attained successful publication while concealing their gender. Visitors can also step into the life of the redoubtable Elizabeth Knight, a rare female landowner and mistress of Chawton House. Explore paintings, artifacts and interactive exhibits which bring these unique stories to life. Meet these extraordinary women in the 2020 exhibition, Man Up!