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!

Web Round-up ~ All Things Austen!

I marvel each day the number of Austen-related blog posts, newspaper articles, and just plain references to “Jane Austen”  that show up, sometimes in the unlikeliest of places.  It’s like the old story if you buy a yellow VW, you will suddenly see a ton of yellow VWs running all over the place.  My mother named me “Deborah” when the name was unheard of – and a year later, everywhere she went she heard mothers calling for their little “Debbies” – same for me when I gave my daughter 38 years ago my completely unheard of middle name of “Jessica”, a name from my English grandmother – and we all know how many of those are running around! …  so I ask, was Austen always this much in the news, or is it because I am just paying attention??

That said, here are several of the more interesting Austen-sitings from the past week or so – and this barely touches the surface!

*First must start with a reminder to check out the site for information on the 2010 AGM in Portland Oregon – it is more than half-full, so if you have thoughts of attending this sure-to-be-fabulous gathering in celebration of Northanger Abbey, best to send in your registration as soon as possible.


*The Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton has put their shop online through Trail Publishing – many goodies – treat yourself!


* Speaking of Chawton – Tony Grant on his London Calling blog has posted on “Why do we want to visit Chawton” with a wonderful photograph of the staircase from the second story – search “Jane Austen” on his blog and you will find a variety of other Austen-related posts.  Tony is also writing a weekly column for the Jane Austen Today blog: this week a post on “Jane Austen and the English Country Garden” – lovely pictures and commentary!


*John Mullan, Austen and 18th century scholar [he spoke at the Philadelphia AGM on “Sisterly Chat”, one of my favorite talks – now in Persuasions 31 [2009], pp. 59-68, but alas! not yet online],  has written a review of the newly released reprint of Maria Edgeworth’s Helen – hopefully rekindling interest in this Irish authoress, much read and admired by Jane Austen.  You can read his review here at The Guardian.

See also Mullan’s article on Ten of the Best Pianos in Literature, where  Emma makes the list:

It bruises Emma that Jane Fairfax is so very good at playing the piano (if only she had practised a little more). Jane’s prowess at the keyboard becomes central to the plot. Who could be the donor of the expensive instrument that is delivered to Miss Bates’s house, where Jane is staying? It must surely be a male admirer. Well, yes, but Emma’s deductions lead her very astray.

Of course, I would have added Sense & Sensibility [Marianne’s haven, Brandon struck by love-at-first-sight] and Pride & Prejudice [Darcy and Elizabeth at the piano at Rosings is quite the character-revealing scene – and who can forget Lady Catherine’s exclamations of her own talents!] – but the other nine listed are worthy opponents, and Austen can not take over every list!


* and more on Ms. Edgeworth last month at Foyle’s online: in “Jane Austen continues to surpass Maria Edgworth”

Rosemary Goring, the literary editor of the Herald, pointed out that Edgeworth was considered to be a ‘far more fashionable and illustrious’ author than Austen when the two were writing and still has fans today, as evidenced by her recently reissued Helen.  However, she noted that it is Austen who has captured the hearts and imaginations of modern readers, partly due to her reluctance to moralise and her willingness to include immorality in her works.  ‘Edgeworth’s fiction may have been the bestselling work of her era, making her the richest novelist alive, but where she thumps the table and cranks up the melodrama, Austen quietly rips the rug from under her characters and her readers,’ Goring added.

[from Foyle’s Bookstores website]


* …the ball, it is quite a settled thing; and as soon as Nicholls has made white soup enough, I shall send round my cards.”  [P&P, ch. 11]

Julie at Austenonly has given us a rousing post on the history of that ever-to-be-understood “White Soup” – certainly one the shortest throwaway lines in literature to generate such a number of articles!  A lovely post with numerous illustrations and recipes.  Nicholls would heartily approve!


*I had the pleasure last year to attend a play at the Theatre by the Lake  in Keswick in the Lake District.  We saw “The Maid of Buttermere “- I now get all their mailings, and usually bemoan the fact that I on the wrong side of the pond, but never moreso than this season for the staging of Northanger Abbey adapted by Tim Luscombe- it runs from May 29 – November 5, 2010.


* “To be published May 2011, Professor Rachel Brownstein’s book Why Jane Austen? considers reasons why the nineteenth-century English novelist “became a star during the last 20 years.” Brownstein, who teaches at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center, is a renowned Austen scholar. Her first book, Becoming a Heroine: Reading about Women in Novels (Viking, 1982), stemmed from encounters with women returning to Brooklyn College after raising children. Those students “had special interest in the situation of women and in nineteenth-century novels, first among them Jane Austen’s,” says Brownstein. “In this new book, I write about the ways that feminism, anti-feminism, and post-feminism, among other factors, have fed the popular passion for Jane.”  [from the Brooklyn College website] – oh boy! another book to add to the mix of Sutherland’s Jane Austen’s Textual Lives and Harman’s Jane’s Fame…] – and Brownstein’s Becoming  Heroine is a must have for your library… wonderful chapter on Austen…


* Sotheby’s recent auction of “Treasures Aristocratic Heirlooms” with a sale total of  13,951,250 GBP for a mere 21 items!  – anything from Rosings or Pembererly?

[wine cistern of Thomas Wentworth: 2,505,250 GBP ]



And today, Sotheby’s auction of Old Masters and British Paintings Day Sale [July 8, 2010] – worth a look for such works of art as this Constable: [hammer price – 289,250 GBP] *For the Georgette Heyer fans out there, Sourcebooks will be releasing a reprint of Jennifer Kloester’s Georgette Heyer’s Regency World in August 2010:  [an invaluable resource!]

“The definitive guide for all fans of Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen,
and the glittering Regency period”


*And Vic at the Jane Austen’s World blog has created another entirely new blog called Art & History Tour, a place for “historical posts and reviews not dealing with Jane Austen and the Regency era”… another lovely addition to cyberspace! [but hope this doesn’t take Vic away from “all things Austen” for too much of her time…]


* On LibraryThing:  the Samuel Johnson Library [all information and links] and the listing of works in Johnson’s Undergraduate Library


* Visit the Novembers Autumn blog for a post on Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers:  Sir Francis Austen


*the Teach Me Tonight blog has announced the August release of the first issue of the Journal of Popular Romance Studies ~ great articles with open access online.  Visit the IASPR website for more information [the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance]


* and last but certainly not least, Mags at Austenblog has a whole new look! –  she comes out swinging her “Clubat” at the Very-Deserving Glenn Beck – see her post here  [what was he thinking?!]

[Posted by Deb]