By the beginning of the 19th century, Lyme Regis had become a fashionable resort for summer visitors, and of the thousands who came to enjoy the pleasures of the town none is recalled with more pride and affection than Jane Austen (1775 – 1817). Jane came to Lyme with her family in the summer of 1804, and remained here with her parents when her sister Cassandra and brother Henry moved on to Weymouth in September. Jane wrote letters to Cassandra describing what she had seen and done in the town: walking on the Cobb, dancing in the Assembly Rooms, bathing (from a bathing machine) and rather overdoing it, and disputing with her landlord the price of a broken jug.
Lyme Regis Museum has a number of objects on display relating to Jane Austen and her times, including several that have come down through the Austen family and have kindly been lent to the museum by Mrs. Diana Shervington.
Jane Austen’s last great novel, Persuasion, is in part set in Lyme Regis. The crucial passage set in Lyme is the central link in the story which begins in the Somerset countryside and moves to its climax in Bath. Jane Austen’s settings for her novels were not usually real places: Lyme is one of the few exceptions, together with Bath. Persuasion was published posthumously in 1818, and the town has been a centre of literary pilgrimage ever since. When Lord Tennyson came here, he was more interested in seeing landmarks connected with Jane Austen’s novel than with real events such as the Monmouth Rebellion!
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.
Read the following posts about Jane Austen on the Museum blog:
- Jane Austen, Persuasion and Lyme Regis
- Jane Austen… Why Didn’t She Marry?
- Lyme Regis as Jane Austen saw it
- Jane Austen possessions donated to Lyme Regis Museum