Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jane Austen in Queen Square, Bath, 1799

Jane Austen wrote the following extracts to her sister from number 13, Queen's Square, on Friday May 17, 1799. She was 23 years of age and had come to Bath with her mother and her brother Edward and his wife. The first photo shows me standing outside the house on Queen Square where they stayed. It is a moment's walk from the shops in Milsom Street and very handy for the Pump Rooms and Baths. Edward was there to try the waters for his health. This is what Jane had to say about their lodgings.

We are exceedingly pleased with the house; the rooms are quite as large as we expected. Mrs. Bromley is a fat woman in mourning, and a little black kitten runs about the staircase. Elizabeth has the apartment within the drawing-room; she wanted my mother to have it, but as there was no bed in the inner one, and the stairs are so much easier of ascent, or my mother so much stronger than in Paragon as not to regard the double flight, it is settled for us to be above, where we have two very nice-sized rooms, with dirty quilts and everything comfortable. I have the outward and larger apartment, as I ought to have; which is quite as large as our bedroom at home, and my mother's is not materially less. The beds are both as large as any at Steventon, and I have a very nice chest of drawers and a closet full of shelves -- so full indeed that there is nothing else in it, and it should therefore be called a cupboard rather than a closet, I suppose.

I like our situation very much; it is far more cheerful than Paragon, and the prospect from the drawing-room window, at which I now write, is rather picturesque, as it commands a perspective view of the left side of Brock Street, broken by three Lombardy poplars in the garden of the last house in Queen's Parade.

The second photo shows a view of Queen Square, a little further along the prospect that Jane would have seen.

In Lydia Bennet's Story, I placed Lydia and her friends in lodgings in Quiet Street, just a street away, towards Milsom Street. Their situation is not as grand as Jane's, but I could not resist having Mrs Bromley as their landlady!

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