By Harry Mottram: The Jane Austen Festival runs from Friday 8th to Sunday 17th September 2023, and features guided walks, costumed balls, theatrical performances and talks on one of England’s most celebrated writers.
The first Jane Austen Festival in 2001 took place over a weekend at The Jane Austen Centre, Bath, and has since grown into a 10 day programme, drawing over 3,500 people from around the world. The festival begins with a Regency Costumed Promenade, which has been filling the streets of Bath with over 500 people in Regency dress since 2004. Full of bonnets, soldiers, and drummers the backdrop of Georgian Bath transports visitors back to the time of Jane Austen (1775-1817) – albeit with 21st century traffic, shoppers and much cleaner streets.
The main reason for the festival is the city’s association with Jane Austen who visited on occasion and included aspects of Bath in her novels – which help to bring to life Georgian life in the spa resort – which she descibes in detail – often with a pithy wit. She has been portrayed as someone who didn’t like Bath, but her distaste was more for the way some in society behaved – rather badly – and also its contrast to the life she lived in the country as well as her dismay over having to leave her country home at Steventon. Plus the busy social life in the city meant her word count dropped compared to the quite of the country where most of her novels were written.
Jane lived in the city in 1804 at 4, Sydney Place an experience that helped her to set Northanger Abbey and Persuasion partly in Bath. Her reputation has grown over the years due to the quality of her writing and her perceptions of her characters which were the forerunners of the great Victorian novels. And of course the TV and film adaptations of her work have created new fans along with many who want to emerse themselves Cosplay style in events like the Jane Austen Festival.
Pictures from the Festival’s Facebook site.
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