In a move that British tabloids The Express and the Daily Mail have labeled “Black Lives Matter-inspired” and “woke madness,” the Jane Austen’s House Museum has announced plans to answer questions about the author’s ties to brutal imperialism honestly.
As the Telegraph originally reported, the museum, based in a house in Hampshire where Austen once lived, will include information about the fact that Austen’s father was a trustee of an Antigua sugar plantation that exploited the labor of enslaved people, information that increasingly comes up in tours, according to a person who actually works at the museum and would therefore know what information is most helpful to its visitors to contextualize the world from which Austen wrote:
“Austen lived during the era of slavery and the abolition by Britain of the Atlantic slave trade in 1807. We are increasingly asked questions about this by our visitors and it is therefore appropriate that we share the information and research that exists on her connections to slavery and its mention in her novels. This information is widely accessible in the public domain,” a statement from the museum said, according to the Guardian. “We would like to offer reassurance that we will not, and have never had any intention to, interrogate Austen, her characters or her readers for drinking tea.”
I would beseech any and all UK tabloid writers or readers outraged at this shocking Austen revelation to either never read Jane Eyre or close the book when you get to the part where Jane leaves Lowood because you are going to be fucking livid when you find out what Rochester’s got in that attic.