There are many geographical spots around England where the words of Jane Austen live on two centuries later, but none are more closely linked to the author than Bath, where she set some of her novels, and the county of Hampshire, where she died.
Two hundred years after her death on July 18, 1817, Jane Austen’s presence remains.
In Bath, where Austen famously wrote in the novel Northanger Abbey “Oh, who could ever be tired of Bath?” the author moved here after her father retired.
Today, the city is a designated UNESCO World Heritage site and is the only place where people can still bathe in naturally hot spa water and original Roman Baths.
In Austen’s time, Bath was where all the wealthy and fashionable society gathered to go to balls.
Her work still inspires balls where people wear Regency dress and learn intricate dance steps, all while keeping a respectful distance between the men and women.
Felicia and Ryan Richard came all the way from Kansas City to attend the ball, with Ryan, one of the few men in the room. Felicia Ryan knew it was probably best to bring her own Mr. Darcy.
“He definitely wins husband of the year for coming to this,” says Richard, an Austen aficionado who has longed dreamed of visiting England.
Austen’s words are written by fans on benches and on the sidewalks outside of Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire where she is buried.
New exhibits of her life and her legacy are being held throughout the world.
The Mysterious Miss Austen Exhibition explores the author’s life and her relationship to Hampshire. One of the main centerpieces of the exhibit is bringing together the five best known portraits of Austen in one roof. Two of the pieces are from the National Portray Gallery in London and three from private collections including one which has not been seen in public for four decades.
One of the highlights of the exhibition is a surviving manuscript of an alternative ending to her final novel Persuasion. Hear audio from Jane Austen expert Louise West explaining the book’s characters via a LiteraryPlacesTravel Instagram post here.
In Winchester, the house where Austen died, remains standing, a plaque outside marking her death.
On the day we visited, a lazy dog lounged in the window of the second floor rooms where Austen passed away at the age of 41 staring longingly at the park across the street.
The dog’s contemplation is reminiscent of Austen’s sister Cassandra who wrote of watching Jane’s coffin go down the street. As a woman, she was not allowed to accompany her brothers and nephews as part of the funeral cortege.
I watched the little mournful procession the length of the street; and when it turned from my sight, and I had lost her for ever
The park across the street from the home where Austen died has a sweet tribute to the author written on a vine-covered wall. Know your own happiness. Call it hope.