When I visited the Jane Austen Centre at 40 Gay Street in Bath, I was unprepared for the “wow factor” I experienced. I entered their permanent exhibit in this Georgian home with high hopes of geeking out about one of my real-life heroines, a woman who defied the odds and met success as an author in an era when women were viewed as little more than baby machines or governesses, and when nice girls didn’t write and publish books.
However, this delightful place did more than feed my fan-girl hunger. From the doorman with his friendly smile, who, by the way, is the most photographed face in the UK, to the charming and lovely costumed guides who adore (worship?) Jane as much as I do, this is the ultimate destination for Jane-ites.
To educate and pique the interest of those who are not true fans of Jane Austen, the tour began with a movie highlighting Jane Austen’s life and career. Knowing more about her helped my husband have a greater appreciation for her and her influence on me as well as my writing.
Then the guides took us through the various exhibits describing her life, her family, her books, and how she first got published. She was ahead of her time in many ways, and ended up doing what is now known as indy publishing for her first few books.
There’s a place to try on authentic re-creations of Regency clothes for a photo shoot.
I swooned under the piercing gaze of the delicious Mr. Darcy!
Their gift shop, complete with a costumed cashier, was a fun place to browse tempting souvenirs. Yes, I indulged. I bought a lace fan, a bookend silhouette of Jane, some super fancy chocolates, and gifts for friends. Good thing I had limited luggage space or I might have come home with more!
They also have a tea shop where anyone can pop in and enjoy a spot of tea.
To learn more about Jane Austen, visit these places: