September in Bath with Jane Austen

September in Bath with Jane Austen

 

Historian, author and Jane Austen aficionado Diana White reveals what treats the city of pleasures held in store for our favourite novelist in September.

Autumn countryside trees

 

It’s September 1801. The season is changing, the nights are starting to draw in again and there is a hint of chill in the air. But as Jane enters her new home, 4, Sydney Place, the house that will become one of the most famous literary residences in England, she is filled with the anticipation of a new chapter in her life now that she's living in Bath, the city of pleasures.

4 Sydney crescent Bath Jane Austen

As she walks up the stairs into the elegant drawing room, she looks across at the famous Sydney Gardens, one of the centres for Society in the city and somewhere she eagerly looks forward to exploring. The trees are beginning to turn but the fairy lights in the trees twinkle enticingly and her heart lifts in delight at the prospect of the promised entertainments.

In the bedroom she’ll share with her sister, with its views across the woods and fields to the distant hills, she unpacks her trunk, bringing out her ball gowns, fingering the silk and soft muslins and wondering… Jane is just returned from her holiday in Sidmouth and there’s a sparkle in her eyes. Who will she meet at the Assembly Balls… who will she dance with?

Jane Austen

 

But there are other pleasures, like the Theatre Royal, the most important theatre outside London. Will she see Sarah Siddons, the leading actress of the day? Jane has loved the theatre since she was a little girl helping with the theatricals her family put on in Steventon. Everything about it, from the smell of the greasepaint and the flickering lights in front of the painted scenery, to the thrill of the rising curtain and the plays themselves. Comedies, pantomimes or tragedies, they’re part of a world where she can lose herself in the stories they tell, just as she can lose herself in the stories she writes.

Bath is a city of expectation and hopes, and Jane is now part of it.

Georgian Bath architecture history Jane Austen

 

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