Mansfield Park: Courting Controversy

Think that Jane Austen only stuck to ‘safe’ topics? Think again!

To celebrate the 210th anniversary of Mansfield Park, we invite you to encounter the edgy side of Austen as we deep-dive into the controversial themes of her most daring novel.

In Mansfield Park, Jane Austen uses her quietest heroine to make her loudest statements. She tackles the ‘dead silence’ around the slave trade, makes dirty jokes about the Navy, and delves headfirst into the complexities of romance between cousins. These were all controversial topics that most women writers at the time chose to avoid – so why did Jane Austen deliberately make space for them?

Explore the complex issues that have divided readers of Mansfield Park for over 200 years and decide for yourself – is this really Jane Austen’s most controversial novel?


This exhibition was guest-curated by Dr Timothy Moore, a literary historian with expertise in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature and culture. Timothy has a special interest in the lived experience and material culture of marginalised and under-represented communities, including communities of colour in Georgian England. He teaches at the University of Oxford and is a Curator for the National Trust.


To explore this exhibition online, click on a room number below. This exhibition can also be seen in situ at Jane Austen’s House in Chawton. To book tickets to visit in person, please click here.