The city of Bath famous of course for its historic Roman Baths, its grand Royal Crescent, the Pump Room and Bath Abbey.
However one of its former residents and world famous author Jane Austen has a centre dedicated to her life and work which certainly should be up there too. It was thronging with visitors from all over the world on the day I called in, and certainly seemed to be extremely popular with Chinese and Japanese.
Located at No40 Gay Street in a house very similar to where Jane lived No25 for a few weeks following her father’s death in the city in 1805.
Jane had in fact lived for around 5 years in and around the city plus it was where her first novel ‘Northanger Abbey’ was written and also Bath’s social life was featured in her very last book ‘Persuasion’.
The permanent exhibition open on every day of the year apart from Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, where you will be greeted by guides in full themed Georgian costume at the door and throughout the terraced town house. The enthusiastic staff like Martin or his alto ego Mr Bennet will greet you at the door or Elizabeth Bennet would give you a brief talk about Jane’s family and where she fitted in her other 7 siblings.
The main exhibition area is on the lower floor and is accessible by wheelchairs and where you can get a huge amount of detail about her life and books and the chronology of it all. Its also hands-on as there are a selection of clothes for visitors to try on so you can have your Mr Darcy or Elinor Dashwood moment!
Very few images or illustrations of Jane Austen are thought to exist and the ones that do tend not to show perhaps a true likeness of the author.
However now a ly completed life size waxwork has been created with the help of a former FBI forensic artist Melissa Dring to give visitors a more accurate impression of how Jane would have looked during her life. Sculptor Mark Richards brought Jane to life after the idea was brought about by Centre Director David Baldock late in 2014.
If this centre does not satisfy your Jane Austen desire then for around 10 days every year in September the city of Bath gets taken over by a whole host of events that include readings, concerts, performances, walking tours and talks.
Many of the events take place in some of the grand Georgian buildings including The Guildhall, Assembly Rooms or even outside on the lawn in front of the Royal Crescent.
Jane Austen who died in 1817 and left around £600 in her will and it was only after her death that her name started to be printed on her works. Since then she has been listed as selling over 100 million copies of her books!