Jane Austen 200th anniversary latest in year of literary milestones

The global literary spotlight turns on Britain next week with the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen (18 July).

There is a host of celebrations and events lined-up across the country to mark the anniversary, from exhibitions to literary-inspired walks and performances commemorating her life and work. 

From Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, to Mansfield Park and Emma, Jane Austen’s novels, and the film and TV adaptations, have inspired millions of visitors to explore destinations across England. 

Literary fans can visit Jane Austen's House Museum in Hampshire or enjoy a walking tour and afternoon tea in Bath, the setting of Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. They can also explore the majestic Chatsworth House and gardens in Derbyshire, the setting for Mr Darcy’s home ‘Pemberley’ in a big screen adaption of Pride and Prejudice

VisitBritain’s research shows that film and literature are powerful motivators for travel, with more than a third of potential visitors to the UK wanting to see places featured on screen and film backdrops and sets. Visitors drawn by the UK’s culture and heritage, who visit castles and historic houses, spend about £8 billion annually.  

VisitBritain Director Patricia Yates said:

"Jane Austen’s novels have inspired and enthralled audiences for generations, and the sheer scale of attractions and literary-related destinations across England demonstrate her enduring legacy. 

"Britain’s myriad of literary heroes - their birthplaces, writing spots and the landscapes that inspired them - motivate readers to explore the country and visit those destinations that bring the stories to life.”  

This year is England’s ‘Year of Literary Heroes’ and to celebrate VisitEngland has created an interactive map to showcase world-famous authors and literary destinations. Last month celebrated the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Other milestones include the 125th anniversary of the first Sherlock Holmes short story and the 75th anniversary of Enid Blyton’s first Famous Five book. 

Research from VisitEngland into literary tourism shows that more than half of British holidaymakers would visit a literary attraction on holiday in England. These include Jane Austen’s House Museum in Hampshire, which received about 40,000 visitors last year, and the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, which had more than 128,000 visitors. 

England is home to more than 50 literature-related attractions, spanning author’s homes, dedicated museums and world-renowned libraries. 

Tourism is worth more than £127 billion to the UK economy, creating jobs and boosting growth across its nations and regions.