Jane Austen, A Beloved Friend in Chawton

by Helen Palmer

It took a life-threatening illness and months of enforced convalescence to finally arrive at the home of a much loved friend.  I came to the red brick house on a winter day.  Even though I'd grown up less than an hour's drive away, it was the first time I'd been to Jane Austen's house in the English county of Hampshire.

That was four years ago, and I've been back many times since, but I will always remember the fall of 2006.  I had contracted dengue fever, a malaria-like illness, while working in India for the aid agency Oxfam. One minute I was travelling around the count...

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