Jane Austen

Jane Austen Week – Jane in Bath

All this week Risky Regencies celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday. Monday through Saturday each of our blogs will relate in some way to Jane Austen, one of the greatest novelists of all time, a novelist who wrote with such acute authenticity about her own time that she gave subsequent generations such love of it that we still savor Regency novels today.

In celebration (and appreciation) of Jane Austen we will be giving away prizes to two of our Risky Regency commenters this week. Amanda has donated a signed copy of Carrie Bebris’s Mr. and Mrs. Darcy mystery Pride and Prescience, and I have a copy of Maggie Lane’s A Charming Place: Bath in the Life and Novels of Jane Austen to give away. Our winners will be selected at random from all the comments of the week and will be announced next Sunday, Dec 20.

Jane Austen visited Bath as a young woman, once the guest of her aunt, Mrs. Leigh Perrot, who was later falsely incarcerated for stealing a bit of lace. In 1801 Jane’s father decided to retire to Bath, thus Jane had to leave the country village of Steventon to live in a busy city with her parents. Not being wealthy, their circumstances in Bath were less than ideal and the years from 1801 to 1805 (when her father died) were not happy ones for Jane. It is thought that she did no writing in Bath. Still, the city provided her with many opportunities to observe the various characters who lived in Bath and those who visited to take the waters. Perhaps Catherine Moreland of Northanger Abbey reflects the youthful Jane’s impressions of Bath. Anne in Persuasion showed Jane’s more mature, less admiring view.

When Amanda and I visited Bath on the 2003 Novel Explorations Regency Tour, what often filled my mind was that Jane Austen had walked these same streets and saw the same sites.

This is one of the places she called home.

I could imagine her walking a street like this one.

To visit the shops

And gaze in the shop windows.

Maybe she would explore the city and walk down steps like this.

Or visit someone’s Georgian garden.

She, of course, would view the Royal Cresent

And, like we did, she would have danced in the Assembly Rooms.

That’s me, second to the left in the dark blue dress. Amanda is just a little left of center and Deb Marlowe is a little right of center.

If you have visited Bath, what was your favorite place to see? If you’ve never been to Bath, what would you like to see? Do you have any tidbits about Jane Austen’s time in Bath?

Remember to comment for a chance to win! And to visit every day this week

And, don’t forget, Gallant Officer, Forbidden Lady is still in bookstores. Visit my website. I have a contest too.

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Jane George
12 years ago

I got my copy of GOFL at Borders, but I’ve yet to find a spare minute to read it! I’m hoping that when the tree is up I can sip a brandy and egg nog and escape to your Regency world. I can’t wait to read about your painterly hero because I share the artistic affliction.

Thanks for the pics. I feel like I walked in Jane’s shoes for just a moment there.

12 years ago

I loved Bath when I visited it. I liked the little maze down by the water, with the view of shops across the bridge, and the scenery round is beautiful too.

Stephanie J
12 years ago

Great pictures! I can imagine those places too although I’ve never had the opportunity to visit them myself. Lucky you! I think I’d just like to stroll around and see the shops. Getting a feel for a typical day would be so helpful.

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Jane George, I hope GOFL doesn’t disappoint! Drink lots of egg nog.

Alison, I didn’t see the maze down by the river! I’ll bet Jane would have walked there. I must go back to see all the things I missed.

Stephanie, one really could get glimpses of what it really must have been like to walk in Bath in Jane’s time. I realize I didn’t describe the golden glow of the stone buildings which are truly beautiful.

Elena Greene
12 years ago

I visited Bath several times and loved it. Maybe my favorite place there is Royal Crescent #1.

12 years ago

Thanks for sharing the pictures and the memories. Unfortunately, when I lived in England, in my early 20s, I did not appreciate the importance of Bath, so when my uncle offered to take me I declined. Foolish child. Now I wish I could see the Assembly Room and the Royal Crescent. The maze would definitely be on my list as well.

And my best friend finally read GOFL, and it was great being able to talk about it! We’re both looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

Jane Austen
12 years ago

I did Bath in a whirlwind 24 hours staying at a hostel that had music themed rooms. (I slept in the Tammy Wynette bed). I went to the Cadbury Cafe and spilled a strawberry milkshake on my favorite pair of khakis (incidentally the only pair of pants I had brought on my weekend backpack tour of Stonehenge and Bath). So I obviously had to go shopping and as I asked for khaki pants I was instantly taken to the underwear section of the store. It was in Bath I found a red gingham dress to replace the one my boyfriend’s fraternity brother had worn and broken (I have a soft spot for red gingham). I also bought my first JA fan fiction novel “Lady Catherine’s Necklace” at the JA Center. I bought a sterling silver charm of a bathtub from Bath. (I collected sterling silver charms from every place I went in Europe). I am going back to Bath in October of 2010 and am already trying to decide which fabulous charm I should buy (http://giftshop.janeausten.co.uk/acatalog/Jewellery.html) Anyone have thoughts about charms seen in the link above? I loved Bath. It was beautiful to see the sunrise over the cathedral and find tiny glass elephants, ducks and pigs that my traveling friends and I named after British monarchs, novel characters and Italian painters. Wow! Suddenly I am very nostalgic and am really missing Bath.

Margaret Evans Porter
12 years ago

I’m partial to Sydney Gardens, which were very different and more intricately landscaped in Jane’s day to what they are now. I also enjoy wandering the Abbey. And Queen Square. I sometimes eat lunch at the Pump Room. Or, if it’s not too crowded, at Sally Lunn’s.
And I go to the library and read the gazettes from Jane’s time, with reports of the illustrious people arriving in town.
I spend way too much time in antiquarian bookshops, but some of my most beloved treasures were purchased at Bath, so I don’t really regret it!

12 years ago

How exciting that must have been to visit Bath. I would definitely want to visit the Assembly Rooms since I have read so many stories that mentioned them.

Amanda McCabe
12 years ago

Oh, thanks for the wonderful memories, Diane! Bath is soooo lovely–I think I felt more “Regency” there than anywhere else I’ve been, and I am definitely going back for a longer stay one day. (once I am rich, I can stay at the Royal Crescent Hotel, LOL!)

The dance at the assembly rooms was really very magical! I felt like Catherine Morland :))

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon
12 years ago

I love Bath. I actually wrote a manuscript where my heroine stays in the Jane Austen room at the Royal Crescent. Someday I hope to stay there. I always feel closer to Jane when I’m in Bath, even though she didn’t particularly care for the city or maybe I just feel closer to what it was like in Regency England.

Megan Frampton
12 years ago

Those are lovely pictures! Thanks for sharing.

12 years ago

I am an Austen fanatic—what a wonderful contest!

12 years ago

I would love to visit Bath. Thank you so much for photos of all the various spots and the musings that accompanied them!

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Elena, we visited 1 Royal Cresent and I can’t remember it!

Judy, you blew it. You’ll just have to plan a future trip to Bath.

Jane Austen, I have to laugh because you and Margaret seem like opposites. I see you rushing around Bath and Margaret taking a leisurely pace! Love the idea of the charms.

Maureen and Camille, you will just have to plan a trip to Bath.

Elizabeth, I, too, thought of Jane Austen all the while I was in Bath.
Megan, I also have great photos of other parts of Bath. And, Amanda, I’d go back with you anytime!!!

Katie, come back every day this week for more Jane Austen!!!

Janet Mullany
12 years ago

Diane doesn’t mention Jane’s earlier visit in 1797 when the French invaded and she joined up with the Damned (the vampires of Georgian England) to fight them…

(Coming from HarperCollins in fall 2010 and in search of a title and needing revisions)

Amanda McCabe
12 years ago

“And, Amanda, I’d go back with you anytime!!!”

I think it would be so much fun to go during the Jane Austen Festival in September! We need a Riskies travel agency 🙂

Louisa Cornell
12 years ago

Jane, you are in for a treat! GOFL is a great read and her artistic hero is to die for!

I was only nine years old when I visited Bath. (Some 40 odd years ago.) We did an extensive tour of the actual Roman baths. I have vivid memories of that and of the taste of the water. (Definitely only good for medicinal purposes, or something!)

I would love to go back and tour again now. For now my trips to Bath are via my online Christmas shopping at the shop at the Jane Austen Centre.

Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Janet, the only reason I did not mention Jane’s visit of 1797 was that you SWORE me to secrecy!!! Now you alone are breaking the silence, revealing an incident in history heretofore kept under wraps.

Amanda!! we definitely need a Risky travel agent. One who can find us dirt cheap deals (but not as dirt cheap as the hostel our Jane Austen described…I’ll skip the Tammy Wynette bed.)

Louisa, I neglected to mention our tea at the Pump Room and tasting the waters (very metallic tasting). I peeked at the Roman Baths but that was all.

Jane George
12 years ago

Hey, I have something in common with Jane Austen! I saw The Damned in 1981. Although I have to say I didn’t join up with them.

12 years ago

Have never been to Bath, but it is on my list of places to visit if/when I go to England. I’d like to see the baths, The Tap Room, and just walk around town drinking in the sites and history.

Keira Soleore
12 years ago

What a fabulous experience for you, Ammanda, and Deb to be at the Assembly Rooms dancing in person.

I’ve been to Bath once, and I adored the square that’s behind the baths where the cathedral is. Overall, it’s such a peaceful walkable city.

12 years ago

I was planning to go to Bath last autumn but decided to go to London. I hope that someday I will have a change to go to Bath since two of the novels by Austen take part there. The pictures are so beautiful. 🙂

Cara King
12 years ago

I confess I’m a total Bath addict. Whenever I go to England, I have to go to Bath, sometimes for extended visits (the best!)…so I figure adding it all up, I’ve probably spent a month in Bath. Can’t get enough!

My favorite thing is just walking around the city…it’s so well preserved! Thank heavens it wasn’t in the East where Hitler’s bombs could reach it.

And I *love* the Pump Room. And the Royal Crescent. And Bath Abbey. And the Theatre Royal. And the Building of Bath Museum. And I love getting out my Jane Austen Bath map and just walking around, up to the higher terraces mentioned in Persuasion, out to Laura Place, and all around… Okay, I’d better just stop now, or I’ll be typing all day! 🙂


Diane Gaston
12 years ago

Keira, I adore the square, too. I just didn’t have a good photo of it!

Milka, a friend of mine took a day trip to Bath from London. It wasn’t enough time but better than no time at all.

Cara, I would go back to Bath in a heartbeat! I too am glad Hitler didn’t reach it. It is a treasure!

A Year in Books
12 years ago

This sounds like a lovely book! Bath is on the list of many places I wish to visit…someday…

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