Hang a right at the Abbey: Jane Austen and the Imagined City
This source preferred by Richard Berger
Authors: Berger, R.
Editors: Raw, L. and Dryden, R.G.
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan.
Place of Publication: London
This chapter examines Jane Austen’s writing life in the city of Bath, UK. Since the author’s death in 1817, Bath has established itself at the very centre of the Austen tourism industry. This chapter argues that this association of Jane Austen with Bath, and her appropriation by the city is not only problematic, but also dishonest.
The topography of Bath is important to Austen’s work, but also to how she was later represented. She only resided in the city for 5 years, and wrote very little there, but Bath is now secured at the centre of an Austen tourism industry, aided and abetted by the many adaptations filmed in the area. This chapter closely examines Jane Austen’s time in Bath and in particular the two Bath novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.
The chapter further argues that the city of Bath takes on an ‘authorial signature’ of its own as it seeks to commodify a completely fake notion of ‘authenticity’—there is evidence to suggest Jane Austen was very depressed during her time in the city. Bath re-writes the mythology of Jane Austen completely and this re-writing continually renegotiates the Austen canon’s relationship with its global readership. ‘Jane Austen’s Bath’ then is as much an adaptation as the many films, television serials and plays based on her novels.