A formidable character, she refused to relinquish control in an age when wives had no legal identity of their own. Elizabeth Knight (1674-1737) was a woman to be reckoned with. Through a combination of family deaths and alack of male relatives, she inherited a number of large estates in the south of England – including Chawton House. Wealthy, powerful and very much in the mould of Jane Austen’s great landowning female characters like Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Mrs Ferrars, Knight made sure that she was in charge of her land, refusing to hand over control to either of her husbands in an age when wives had no legal or economic identity of their own. This fun and illuminating talk will introduce you to a woman who actively exploited the changing social landscape of the early eighteenth century to her own advantage, knew how to manipulate the parliamentary electoral system two hundred years before the Suffragettes’ campaign gave women in the vote and may well have inspired England’s best-loved novelist, Jane Austen.