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Print Shops and Admiral Croft in Bath

Print shops were very popular in Jane Austen's England. In particular, the political cartoonists of the day like James Gillray (1757-1815) and Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827) provided entertainment for the masses who crowded round the print shop windows to see their latest pictures.

Here is a little nugget of Jane Austen's treasure for your delight. Admiral Croft's character is painted so beautifully in a few sentences. To accompany it is a Brock illustration and a photo of the shop in Bath which they used for the print shop in the 1996 adaptation which has to be my favourite of all adaptations, I think.

Anne was too much engaged with Lady Russell to be often walking herself; but it so happened that one morning, about a week or ten days after the Crofts' arrival, it suited her best to leave her friend, or her friend's carriage, in the lower part of the town, and return alone to Camden Place; and in walking up Milsom Street she had the good fortune to meet with the Admiral. He was standing by himself, at a printshop window, with his hands behind him, in earnest contemplation of some print, and she not only might have passed him unseen, but was obliged to touch as well as address him before she could catch his notice. When he did perceive and acknowledge her, however, it was done with all his usual frankness and good humour. "Ha! is it you? Thank you, thank you. This is treating me like a friend. Here I am, you see, staring at a picture. I can never get by this shop without stopping. But what a thing here is, by way of a boat. Do look at it. Did you ever see the like? What queer fellows your fine painters must be, to think that any body would venture their lives in such a shapeless old cockleshell as that. And yet here are two gentlemen stuck up in it mightily at their ease, and looking about them at the rocks and mountains, as if they were not to be upset the next moment, which they certainly must be. I wonder where that boat was built!" (laughing heartily); "I would not venture over a horsepond in it. Well," (turning away), "now, where are you bound? Can I go any where for you, or with you? Can I be of any use?"