The Chawton House is very closely tied to Jane Austen’s history. In 1781, Thomas Knight II inherited the house. He and his wife Catherine had no children of their own, but through family connections with Jane Austen’s father, the Reverend George Austen, they eventually adopted Jane’s third brother, Edward, when he was 16 years old. Edward Austen eventually took over management of the estates at Godmersham and Chawton in 1797, living mostly at Godmersham and letting the Great House at Chawton to gentlemen tenants. In 1809 he offered a house in the village to his mother and two sisters Cassandra and Jane, and it was there that Jane Austen began the most prolific period of her writing life. Her career as a novelist took off with the publication of “Sense and Sensibility” in 1811, and she went on to publish a further three of her novels while at Chawton (two more followed shortly after her death). She lived in Chawton until her death in 1817, only moving to Winchester near the end of her life to be nearer medical care.
The Chawton House Library has a wonderful monthly podcast filled with interesting information. You should check it out and listen to their latest podcast here: http://www.chawtonhouse.org/?p=61772