Here’s where Jane Austen’s real life and ‘Persuasion’ intersect in Bath

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By Jennifer Abella

Jane Austen was no stranger to Bath when she wrote “Persuasion.” Here are seven locations that appear in both her letters to her sister and in the novel.streetsign

Laura Place

In the book: Lady Dalrymple, a highfalutin’ Elliot relative, has a home in Laura Place. Sir Walter is eager to reconnect with her.

It was very desirable that the connexion should be renewed, if it could be done, without any compromise of propriety on the side of the Elliots….  They visited in Laura Place, they had the cards of Dowager Viscountess Dalrymple, and the Honourable Miss Carteret, to be arranged wherever they might be most visible: and “Our cousins in Laura Place,”–“Our cousin, Lady Dalrymple and Miss Carteret,” were talked of to everybody.

Letter to Cassandra (Jan. 3, 1801): There are three parts of Bath which we have thought of as likely to have houses in them — Westgate Buildings, Charles Street, and some of the short streets leading from Laura Place or Pulteney Street.

Letter to Cassandra (Jan. 21-22, 1801):  I join with you in wishing for the Environs of Laura place, but do not venture to expect it.

 


Gay Street

In the book: The Crofts are lodging in Gay Street.

The Crofts had placed themselves in lodgings in Gay Street, perfectly to Sir Walter’s satisfaction. He was not at all ashamed of the acquaintance, and did, in fact, think and talk a great deal more about the Admiral, than the Admiral ever thought or talked about him.

Letter to Cassandra (Jan. 3, 1801): The houses in the streets near Laura Place I should expect to be above our price. Gay Street would be too high, except only the lower house on the left-hand side as you ascend. Towards that my mother has no disinclination; it used to be lower rented than any other house in the row, from some inferiority in the apartments.

Letter to Cassandra (April 21-23, 1805): Mr. Hampson is here; this must interest Martha; I met him the other morning in his way (as he said) to Green Park Bgs; I trusted to his forgetting our number in Gay St when I gave it him, & so I conclude he has, as he [has omitted] not yet called.

 


Pulteney Street

In the book: While out with Lady Russell, Anne spots Frederick on Pulteney Street. Anne worries about Lady Russell’s reaction when she spots him.

The following morning Anne was out with her friend, and for the first hour, in an incessant and fearful sort of watch for him in vain; but at last, in returning down Pulteney Street, she distinguished him on the right hand pavement at such a distance as to have him in view the greater part of the street. She looked instinctively at Lady Russell; but not from any mad idea of her recognising him so soon as she did herself. No, it was not to be supposed that Lady Russell would perceive him till they were nearly opposite.

Letter to Cassandra (Jan, 3, 1801): There are three parts of Bath which we have thought of as likely to have houses in them — Westgate Buildings, Charles Street, and some of the short streets leading from Laura Place or Pulteney Street.

Letter to Cassandra (Feb. 9, 1813): I have had Letters from my Aunt & from Charles within these few days. … She talks of being another fortnight at Scarlets; she is really anxious I can beleive to get to Bath, as they have an apprehension of their House in Pulteney St having been broken into.

 


Pump Room

In the book: It’s a good people-watching spot for Mary.

[Anne] was entreated to give them as much of her time as possible, invited for every day and all day long, or rather claimed as part of the family; and, in return, she naturally fell into all her wonted ways of attention and assistance, and on Charles’s leaving them together, was listening to Mrs Musgrove’s history of Louisa, and to Henrietta’s of herself, giving opinions on business, and recommendations to shops; with intervals of every help which Mary required, from altering her ribbon to settling her accounts; from finding her keys, and assorting her trinkets, to trying to convince her that she was not ill-used by anybody; which Mary, well amused as she generally was, in her station at a window overlooking the entrance to the Pump Room, could not but have her moments of imagining.

 Letter to Cassandra (June 2, 1799): I have never seen an old Woman at the Pump room.

 


Queen’s Square

In the book: The Musgrove girls think the square isn’t the most hoppin’ part of town.

“I hope we shall be in Bath in the winter; but remember, papa, if we do go, we must be in a good situation: none of your Queen Squares for us!”

Letter to Cassandra (Jan. 21-22, 1801): My Mother hankers after the Square dreadfully, & it is but natural to supposed that my Uncle with take her part.

 


Westgate Buildings

In the book: Anne’s friend Mrs. Smith lives at Westgate Buildings. Sir Walter was not happy about Anne lowering herself to visit Mrs. Smith.

“Westgate Buildings!” said he, “and who is Miss Anne Elliot to be visiting in Westgate Buildings? A Mrs Smith. A widow Mrs Smith; and who was her husband? One of five thousand Mr Smiths whose names are to be met with everywhere. And what is her attraction? That she is old and sickly. Upon my word, Miss Anne Elliot, you have the most extraordinary taste! Everything that revolts other people, low company, paltry rooms, foul air, disgusting associations are inviting to you.”

Letter to Cassandra (Jan. 3, 1801): Westgate Buildings, though quite in the lower part of the town, are not badly situated themselves. The street is broad, and has rather a good appearance.

 


White Hart

In the book: The White Hart is where the Musgroves have lodgings.

Anne convinced herself that a day’s delay of the intended communication could be of no consequence, and hastened forward to the White Hart, to see again the friends and companions of the last autumn, with an eagerness of good-will which many associations contributed to form.

Letter to Cassandra (Sept. 15-16 1813): Now for Bath. Poor F. Cage has suffered a good deal from her accident. The noise of the White Hart was terrible to her.


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Jennifer Abella is a TV/movie/pop culture/knitting/sewing/Jane Austen geek. Oh, and a total Anglophile. Find her on Twitter: @nextjen.

 

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