Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Strolling Through Jane Austen's England

The Smithsonian has created a mapped tour of the towns and houses that shaped the life of the English novelist Jane Austen. It is an interesting introduction to the author's life and would be a handy accompaniment to anyone watching the BBC's television program Jane Austen: Behind Closed Doors.

Jane Austen's Footsteps uses KnightLabs StoryMapJS platform to explore some of the important locations in the English writer's life. The map provides an interesting but brief biography of Austen's life, illustrated with some contemporary photos of some of the houses and towns where she lived. Ultimately however the map struggles with its lack of content.

I hesitate to say it, but ... It is a truth universally acknowledged that a map of Jane Austen is in want of more life.

The map could have used a vintage Georgian basemap, so that we could actually explore Austen's footsteps on a map which might have been familiar to the author herself. Many of the locations on the map, such as Chawton in Hampshire, have changed very little since Austen's day. So perhaps Street View could have also been used to give more of insight into the village of Chawton, so we could actually view the village where Austen spent much of her later life.

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