Knight, of the round stable: Cricket and Jane Austen – Almanack
Emma John’s piece on cricket and Jane Austen originally appeared in the 2023 edition of Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack.
On the fringes of the South Downs, a mile or so from Alton, sits Chawton House. The handsome Hampshire manor dates back to the 1580s, with wood-panelled rooms and imposing fireplaces that whisk you back to the first Elizabethan era. For thousands of literary pilgrims who visit each year, it holds another appeal: the estate was once owned by Edward Knight, brother of Jane Austen, and a short walk from its front door is the cottage in which she lived and wrote her most famous novels.
In April 2022 – as Hampshire played Lancashire 25 miles away, in Southampton – Chawton House mounted an exhibition exploring its sporting heritage. And while it couldn’t offer definitive proof that Austen was a solid opening bat or a gun at cover, the story of her family’s passion for cricket di