A BATTLE has begun over the rights of access to a small public highway, which is believed to have been used by Jane Austen when she lived in Worthing.
Those are the words of Janet Clarke, from the Jane Austen Society, who said Library Place could be used for guided tours and would boost tourism in the area.
She said it was only “relatively recently” the connection had been established between Jane Austen and Worthing, and the tourism boost this would bring had not yet been utilised.
It is known the world-famous author stayed at Stanford Cottage, now a Pizza Express in Warwick Street, in 1805, and members of the Jane Austen Society said it was “beyond reasonable doubt” she had used Library Place, which dates back to the 1790s, on one of her trips to the former library on the seafront.
Janet said the twitten could be used as part of Jane Austen tours.
Other places which have been given a significant tourism boost from their association with Jane Austen were Winchester and Bath, which attracted tourists from across the world, she said.
Janet said: “It was a very important time in her life. She was 29 and not yet published. Jane and her family had left Bath because their contract on their property had run out. Her brother had arranged for them to come to Worthing and they came because Worthing was going to be good for them. Worthing had an important association with Jane Austen and her life and work. This connection is the most wonderful thing for Worthing and I think to lose it would be a serious, serious loss. The other places associated with her life have numerous, numerous visitors.”
Janet said it is also believed Jane Austen was heavily influenced by her stay in Worthing when she wrote her unfinished novel Sanditon, about an up-and-coming seaside town.
Janet added: “It’s quite clear she was basing her novel on her knowledge and observations of Worthing.”