Touring with Jane Austen ~ Bath, England

Gentle Readers who love to travel, especially those who love to follow in Jane Austen’s Footsteps:  I am linking to this post by Nan Quick, one of our JASNA members from New Hampshire.  She had emailed me recently to tell me of her website for armchair travelers, with one of her posts on Jane Austen’s Bath … I append it here – with lovely pictures and lively commentary, how perfect to visit such a place as this, when so many of us are snowed-in! So with dreams of warmer climes and Jane Austen hovering nearby, here you go…

Bath 1 - Nan Q

I really wanted to call this Armchair Traveler Chapter “Jane Austen’s Bath.” But holding forth about Jane’s bathing habits would have given me ammunition for a brief and not very interesting article. So, instead it’ll be “Jane Austen AND Bath.” I’ll try to describe the City as it was during the times when she lived there, and I’ll show you many of the locations that she used in two of her books. Happily, the built world of today’s Bath is largely unchanged from Jane’s time. Over the past two centuries the City’s fame has protected it from indiscriminate “improvements,” and so visiting Bath today gives a fairly good impression of what Jane’s days there might have been like.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re Austen-informed, and have thus read NORTHANGER ABBEY and PERSUASION, which are called Austen’s Bath novels.

On May 28th, 2011 I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon in Bath. Of course, in England, the weather has a mind of its own, and storms from a place called “Bill’s Mother’s” descended. Here’s how it is with Bill: the locals always say bad weather is blown in from a mythical place called “Bill’s Mother’s.” I thought you should know, just in case you go to Bath and people start talking weather. On that Saturday my British friends and I were rained upon, blown about, and generally frozen; late May felt like early March. But I’d asked Anne and David and Janet (who you’ve met in my earlier Armchair Traveler pieces) to make the long round-trip drive on the traffic-jammed M5 with me from the Midlands down to Bath, expressly so I could make the following words REAL to myself:

“The Crescent,” “Milsom Street,” “Pulteney Street,” “The Pump Yard.” I also wanted to clear my confusion, once and for all, about all those infernal ROOMS that Austen’s characters scurried between: the Upper Rooms, or the New Assembly Rooms; the Lower Rooms; and the Pump Room. Even though my time there was short, and the weather awful, I managed to get a sense of the lay of the land, which is what I’d like to share with you.

Continue reading…

Bath 2 - Nan Q
[Images from Nan]


  • Liverpool (Gormley, McCartney, Lennon) ;
  • The Ruins at Witley Court ;
  • and ending with Chawton and Jane Austen’s House

This is a long post, so if Jane is your only interest, then scroll through it to the end – but I advise you see read the whole thing – I was in a Liverpool a few years ago and it was very nice to re-live that trip – so thank you Nan!

Tempests Brewing?

Kate in Norfolk today mentioned news hitting the Daily Telegraph: two battles just brewing, one over which place – Chawton or Bath? – can be said to deserve the title of Jane Austen’s ‘true home’; and the other being a tearoom propriator who wants to patent a ‘Jane Austen’ line of teas and coffees. Read the stories here – and check back periodically to see what more is happening, as these stories undoubtedly continue to unfold.

Online Jane Austen “find”

Some of the most difficult books to track down are those published privately by Austen-Leigh family members. These include a lot of publications from Spottiswoode (for background on the firm, see this book). Others are simply seminal Austen offerings. Tonight’s “find” is from Internet Archive: CHAWTON MANOR AND ITS OWNERS. This is one of those books referenced in footnotes, but which you might never otherwise actually see. CHECK IT OUT!!

Today, the Manor is known as Chawton House Library (see the links page for their website); the graves of Cassandra and Mrs Austen are found to the side of St. Nicholas’ Church, just a bit further down the quiet lane that passes the manor house. The photographs in this book may be the only views of the house most of us see; I was in Chawton on a day which was not a Thursday, alas that the only day it was open to the public. (Chawton House Library had also been my work venue of choice, had I gotten JASNA’s IVP nod.) And, written by family, this is a prime source for information about the KNIGHTS who adopted Jane’s brother Edward. The book also includes portraits of Edward which I’ve never seen elsewhere (though the one of his wife Elizabeth is extremely familiar).

A couple other books found at the same site: Personal Aspects of Jane Austen was written by Edward and Emma Austen-Leigh’s daughter, Mary Augusta. Not as ‘valuable’ a book, in my opinion, as her father’s Memoir of Jane Austen, never mind Mary’s own memoir of her father, James-Edward Austen-Leigh, it might find some interest among our Janeites (though not so, according to the handwritten note across the title page!). This other book looks interesting, but I’ve not yet had the chance to read much of it; so tell me whether YOU think it an overlooked early biography, terribly dated, or could never have been very good… It’s from 1920 and is divided into some thought-provoking sections: The Novelist; The Realist; The Woman.

And if it weren’t so late (at the tone the time will be three a.m. BONG!), I’d read a Jane Austen’s Regency World article on Miss Austen Regrets or their article on Rejecting Jane (how she might have fared in today’s publishing world); but that has to wait ’til “morning”… So long, farewell, au revoir, auf wiedersehen.