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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Jane Austen, Persuasion and Lyme Regis

The picture on the left (source: Wikimedia Commons) is one of a set of illustrations drawn by C. E. Brock for a 1909 edition of Jane Austen's last novel, Persuasion (first published posthumously in 1818). This particular scene is taken from Chapter 12 (When they came to the steps, leading upwards from the beach, a gentleman, at the same moment preparing to come down, politely drew back, and stopped to give them way... ).

Chapters 11 to 14 of Persuasion are set in the Dorset seaside town of Lyme Regis (referred to in the novel simply as "Lyme"). The settings of Jane Austen's novels were not usually real places: Bath is one exception; Lyme is another. The protagonists arrive in November, and the description of the out-of-season town from the start of Chapter 11 is still recognizable to a winter visitor:

After securing accommodations, and ordering a dinner at one of the inns, the next thing to be done was unquestionably to walk directly down to the sea. They were come too late in the year for any amusement or variety which Lyme, as a public place, might offer. The rooms were shut up, the lodgers almost all gone, scarcely any family but of the residents left; and, as there is nothing to admire in the buildings themselves, the remarkable situation of the town, the principal street almost hurrying into the water, the walk to the Cobb, skirting round the pleasant little bay, which, in the season, is animated with bathing machines and company; the Cobb itself, its old wonders and new improvements, with the very beautiful line of cliffs stretching out to the east of the town, are what the stranger's eye will seek; and a very strange stranger it must be, who does not see charms in the immediate environs of Lyme, to make him wish to know it better.

No less than three screen adaptations of Persuasion have used Lyme Regis as a filming location: the 1971 BBC mini-series starring Ann Firbank, the 1995 film starring Amanda Root, and the 2007 TV adaptation starring Sally Hawkins.

For further information on Jane Austen and Lyme Regis, see the Jane Austen page of the Lyme Regis Museum website.

1 comment:

rohit said...

Must be an enjoyable read Persuasion by Jane Austen. loved the way you wrote it. I find your review very genuine and original, this book is going in by "to read" list.