Comedian and TV presenter David Baddiel will be the ambassador for Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, in its 70th anniversary year in 2019.
A long-standing admirer of Austen, Baddiel said he was "proud" to take on the role, enthusing the author is "one of the greatest geniuses in English literature, the mother of the modern novel".
"The reason her work is still read and filmed today is that she created a type of storytelling that was at once eternal and centuries ahead of its time," said Baddiel. "I’m proud - as a much lesser storyteller - to be the ambassador for Jane Austen’s House Museum in 2019. Also it’ll really upset Giles Coren."
Director for Jane Austen’s House Museum Mary Guyatt said the museum was "thrilled" to welcome Baddiel to the board as its ambassador in its special anniversary year having observed his championing of Austen "with delight".
Reflecting on the "proud journey" of Jane Austen’s House, she said the charity has welcomed more than one million visitors to the village cottage where Austen wrote her novels.
The Museum’s philanthropic founder, Mr T Edward Carpenter, purchased Jane Austen’s House following an appeal from the Jane Austen Society in The Times, and opened the House as a Museum on 23rd July 1949, dedicating the site to the life and works of Austen. The Museum is the only house where Austen lived and wrote that is open to the public.
In celebration of the anniversary, on 23rd July - the Museum’s official 1949 opening date - the first 70 visitors will be able to purchase admission at the original 1949 ticket price of 1/6d - equivalent to £2.34 today. There will also be a wider programme of displays and events dedicated to the life of the Museum throughout the year, with highlights including a new series of Director’s Talk and Tours, an Austen music workshop, writing workshops, guided walks and a special birthday celebration event on Saturday 27th July.
Guyatt added: "We are really looking forward to celebrating our 70th birthday with our visitors."