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Class of 2019
Spring 2018

During my semester abroad in London, I was fortunate enough to travel to other locations in England to explore the links they have to Jane Austen. I am planning on doing an independent project for my English minor exploring why Jane Austen’s novels have been both successful as current literature and as a merchandising commodity.

There are three primary locations in England that I visited relating to Jane Austen. All three have marketed Jane Austen in different ways.  The Jane Austen Centre in Bath has highly commodified her work. It was here that I had tea in the restaurant above the Centre where there is a portrait of the fictional character of Mr. Darcy displayed, and you can order the “Tea with Mr. Darcy Special”. It was also here that my mom purchased an “I heart Darcy” button. We also went on a Jane Austen Walking Tour throughout Bath. The tour brought us to different locations in Bath that are associated with Jane, some more significant than others.

The museum in Chawton focuses on a providing a historical context for Jane Austen. It offers guided tours of Austen’s cottage and demonstrations of what her life was like during that time. Chawton differed from Bath because it was much further out in the country and had a subtler version of Jane Austen marketing. The gift shop attached to the house museum sold products such as all the novels written by Austen, and a necklace that is a replica of Jane Austen’s writing desk. After the tour we got lunch at a café named after Jane’s sister, “Casandra’s Cup” and had the most amazing scones with lavender infused clotted cream.

Of the three locations, Lyme Regis was the least focused on “selling” Austen. Jane herself visited once and through letters to her sister, it is evident that she felt a strong connection to this place. Avid readers know that a pivotal scene in her novel Persuasion occurs here. We went to the Lyme Regis Museum and fortunately, they happened to have a Jane Austen exhibit running. This exhibit talked a lot about what life was like in Lyme Regis at the time when Jane was writing her novels and visiting Lyme Regis. We were also able to walk along the Cobb looking out onto the bay, which is the same walk that her characters in Persuasion did on their trip to Lyme Regis. Other than the exhibit there wasn’t much Jane Austen marketing in the town other than an ice cream shop called “Jane’s Takeaway”.

I was able to visit these three locations and look further into Jane Austen marketing for my independent project thanks to the generosity of the William and Judy Frear ’69 Thorpe International Travel Fund.

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United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland