Dr Esther Fernandez-Llorente

Since childhood, my twin passions have been books and old houses. I came to live at Pittleworth Manor when I was six, feeling like Mary Lennox finding the secret garden. Thirty years later, I have the joy of watching my three children grow up in this house full of memories and stories.

As I get older, I realise how much a love of reading contributes to the pleasure of living here for me; there are metaphors in mullioned windows and stories flickering across painted faces in Tudor murals. The house contributes much to my reading of novels about country houses: Jane Eyre, Rebecca and Northanger Abbey to name a (very) few. It is an experience that I would like to share. I believe that a day spent in the surroundings of a country house, reading from and discussing novels that revolve around country houses, can really impact on the way we experience some of the most powerful novels in the English language.

I read Modern History at Oxford University and have Masters degrees in English Literature from King’s College, London and the University of Southampton. At Southampton, I gained my PhD in Victorian literature and culture and had my first experience of teaching.

I am a literary omnivore: taking to heart some advice given to me by a professor at King’s, that, ‘nothing is low-brow’. I intend to be buried with copies of George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Terry Pratchett’s The Night Watch, the complete Chronicles of Narnia — and possibly a torch. In the meantime, when not working on my article on how country houses in novels reflect conceptions of success, I can be found chasing three children and a Newfoundland dog, cooking, trying to garden and scribbling thoughts for my blog.

I believe literature can be accessible in all its fascinating complexity and that studying it can and should be fun. If you love reading and want to consider how and why novels are written, if you relish the extraordinary stories that emerge from country houses: these courses are for you. There will be good books, good food and good conversation. I hope to welcome you to Pittleworth.