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Zoom Rental | In the Footsteps of Jane Austen: A Writer’s Love of Bath with Devoney Looser

May 3 - June 30

Lyme Park

In the Footsteps of Jane Austen: A Writer’s Love of Bath

Bath, England, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries was a fraught, fascinating place, not only because of the supposed healing powers of its waters, but because of its notoriety as a marriage market. The popular spa town was imagined as a magical destination. Day-to-day life there, however, could fall short of the ideal, as Jane Austen’s fiction so vividly describes. Emma’s jilted Mr. Elton finds himself an equally odious wife there, with shocking speed. Persuasion’s heroine Anne Elliot, we’re told, “disliked Bath.” Her sour older sister mistakenly predicts that “nobody will want” Anne in Bath, but there Anne eventually does find herself in love and beloved (again).

In Northanger Abbey, heroine Catherine Morland and her circle hope Bath will supply the “adventures” she lacks in her home village. Catherine isn’t disappointed, although her early experiences involve days of “looking at everybody and speaking to no one,” and many of the friends she makes prove false ones. Thanks to these enduring stories, scenes, and characters, today’s Bath has become a destination city for “Janeites”, who retrace the Austen’s steps in Assembly Rooms, concert halls, and the famous Pump Room.

Sewing table in Boudoir at Saltram ©National Trust Images Andreas von Einsiedel

But what was Bath really like for a young, unmarried woman in this era, whether in search of adventure, authorship, marriage, love, or all four? Few letters survive from Jane Austen during the time she lived in Bath from 1801-05. Scholars also debate whether she was happy or miserable.

In her lecture, Devoney Looser will revisit the question of Austen’s happiness in Bath focusing on the years leading up to the Regency period. She will show Bath’s many attractions and obstacles, as seen not only through the famous novelist’s eyes, but in the accounts of other writers who visited during this transformational era.

Devoney Looser, Regents Professor of English at Arizona State University, is the author or editor of 11 books, most recently the biography Sister Novelists: The Trailblazing Porter Sisters, Who Paved the Way for Austen and the Brontës (Bloomsbury US, 2022). She is also the author of The Making of Jane Austen (2017) and the editor of The Daily Jane Austen: A Year of Quotes (2019). Looser, a Guggenheim Fellow and an NEH Public Scholar, has published essays in The Atlantic, New York Times, Salon, Slate, TLS, and The Washington Post. Her series of 24, 30-minute lectures on Austen is available through The Great Courses and Audible. Her next book, Wild for Austen, will be published by St. Martin’s Press in 2025. In addition to being a quirky book nerd, she plays roller derby under the name ‘Stone Cold Jane Austen’.


May 3
June 30
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Zoom Recording
New York, NY 10036 United States


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Zoom Rental | In the Footsteps of Jane Austen: A Writers Love of Bath Devoney Looser
$ 30.00