Friday 18 December 2015

Celebrating Jane Austen: A Cultural Legacy

Jane Austen’s legacy has extended far beyond her beloved novels and the adaptations that provide comfort to so many. Particularly in Bath (which, incidentally, Austen hated) and Hampshire where she lived, there are so many places to visit and see which allow you a glimpse into Austen’s world in Georgian England and what remains of her personal life. So here are a few cool things to do around the UK:

During the summer, the Jane Austen Centre put on a 90 minute walking tour of Jane’s Bath. Led around the city by either Lizzie or Darcy, you’ll visit places important in her novels and her time in the city.
Source: Jane Austen

Situated in a Georgian townhouse in the centre of Bath, just a few minutes’ walk from the Circus and Royal Crescent, the Jane Austen Museum is a permanent exhibition that displays Jane’s experience of Bath and the bearing it had on her work, as well as lots of history about the city that will paint a portrait of what it would have been like in the early 19th Century.

The Jane Austen Centre also houses a gorgeous Regency Tea Room and a gift shop that I personally visited a good many times during my time at university in Bath. It’s a Janeite’s dream.

Source: Jane Austen Festival

The Jane Austen Festival is a 10-day celebration of all things Austen in Bath. It runs every year in September and features a full programme of events featuring, talks, readings, screenings, walking tours, dances, workshops and the famous parade. When I lived in Bath I loved to watch the troupes of men, women and children marching through the city streets in full Regency dress. It’s a glorious sight and Bath is filled with a magical zeal throughout the promenade. There’s also a grand summer ball every year.

In 1816, when Jane was getting increasingly ill, she travelled with her sister Cassandra to Winchester in a bid to get help from the new hospital next to the cathedral. Unfortunately, Jane’s conditioned worsened quickly and she died in July 1817 and was buried in the Cathedral under a simple grave which mentions nothing of her writing.

Source: Jane Austen's House Museum

Jane lived in this little cottage in Chawton for eight years along with her mother and sister who continued to live there until the death of Cassandra where it was turned into accommodation for labourers for the next 100 years. It was then bought by a MR TE Carpenter who turned it into a museum celebrating Jane and her life and work. The house contains lots of artefacts of Jane’s and represents the simple lodgings of most early 19th Century families.
Source: British Library

As per her request, Jane’s sister, Cassandra, destroyed most of Jane’s personal letters upon her death, but a few do still remain. The British Library holds 13 original documents in Jane’s hand, including letters and a few pages of a manuscript detailing an alternative ending to Persuasion which she later revised. I’ll be making a pilgrimage to the British Library next year to see these myself.

Where would you like to visit? Any literary places I should add to my list?


1 comment:

  1. I've loved this series! My dream is to see all Janes's historical sites, although the house and grave are top of List. Then I'd move on to the Brontes, Virginia Woolf and Enid Blyton!


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