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2024 Jane Austen Festival Talks

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Pride & Prejudice Book Club

 Friday 13th September - 10:00

To start our festival week off with a suitably Austen event, you are welcomed to Jane Austen Festival book club at Bath Library, to discuss ""everybody's favourite novel"", Pride & Prejudice.Please reserve a place to indicate you will be attending. You can also suggest a question or point to discuss during the session when booking.

Venue: Bath Central Library, 19-23 The Podium, BA1 5AN

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Let's Talk About Love

10:00 - Friday 13th, Tuesday 17th & Friday 20th September

Sample the delights of an 18th Century public breakfast just as Jane Austen did in Bath. Bread rolls, toasted fruit bread, cake, tea (Jane Austen blend) or coffee - all in the private dining room of a typical Regency Bath house. Breakfast is accompanied by a talk from Jane Tapley.

Venue: Bath Elim Church, Charlotte St, BA1 2ND

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A Very Private Public Breakfast

10:00 - Friday 13th, Monday 16th, Friday 20th, Saturday 21st, & Sunday 22nd September

Saturday 14th September - 9:00

Sunday 15th September - 9:30

Sample the delights of an 18th Century public breakfast just as Jane Austen did in Bath. Bread rolls, toasted fruit bread, cake, tea (Jane Austen blend) or coffee - all in the private dining room of a typical Regency Bath house. Breakfast is accompanied by a talk from Jane Tapley.

Venue: Kinwarton, 3 Upper Camden Place, (part of) Camden Rd, BA1 5HX (20 mins walk)

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Austen's Arcadia

13:00 Friday 13th & Friday 20th September

Jane Tapley follows the career of one of the earliest and greatest female writers of the 18th century, if not of all time. Hear about her quiet private life as an unmarried vicar's daughter and her personal struggle for independence, and how her novels gathered momentum and appreciation after her death. Talk followed by a Q&A.

Meet: in foyer of Theatre Royal, Saw Close, BA1 1ET

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Drawback the Curtain

Friday 13th September - 14:30

Friday 20th September - 16:00

Join Jane Tapley, Special Events Organiser at the Theatre Royal, for an illustrated talk on the theatre in Georgian times and its influence on Jane Austen's novels. The talk will take place in Bath's Georgian theatre built in 1805, the year Austen left Bath for the delights of Clifton.

Meet: in foyer of Theatre Royal, Saw Close, BA1 1ET

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Rummaging through the Reticule

16:00 - Saturday 14th & Sunday 15th September 

14:00 - Sunday 22nd September 

What did Jane and her characters keep in their reticules? All will be revealed when the contents of this C18th handbag are spilt in the privacy of a Regency drawing room. Jane Tapley's talk is followed by refreshments, a traditional cream tea - scones, jam and cream and, of course, tea.

Venue: Kinwarton, 3 Upper Camden Place, (part of) Camden Rd, BA1 5HX (20 mins walk)

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Dress & Diversion in Jane Austen’s Bath - with Penelope Byrde Ruddock

Saturday 14th September - 15:00

Was Jane Austen a fashionista? In this illustrated talk, fashion historian Penelope Byrde Ruddock looks at the diversions that made the city of Bath so delightful as a spa resort and at the clothes that were worn for the social round – some of which were particular Bath fashions. It will give a context to the city in Austen’s time, as both a visitor and resident, and a way of life reflected in her letters and her two ‘Bath’ novels: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

Venue: BRLSI, 16-18 Queen Square, BA1 2HN

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Women in Wellington's Army

Sunday 15th September - 12 noon

Talk from Kitty Scratcher, a soldier’s wife. The ordinary women who followed the army in the time of Jane Austen. The life and trials of the unsung heroines who supported the British Army in the war against Napoleon.

Venue: 33rd Regiment of Foot's Camp, Holburne Museum Grounds, Great Pulteney Street, BA2 4DB

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Surgeon's Talk

Sunday 15th September - 13:00

Talk by Surgeon Love of the 33rd Regiment of Foot. Medicine and the treatment of wounds in the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars including the tools used and the effect they had. Not for the squeamish.

Venue: 33rd Regiment of Foot's Camp, Holburne Museum Grounds, Great Pulteney Street, BA2 4DB

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Assembly Rooms: Romance, Rows and Riots with Dr Hillary Burlock

Sunday 15th September - 16:30

Was the assembly room always a place of politeness and propriety, as depicted in literature and on screen? From riots, to affairs of the heart, snobbery, duels and attempted coup d’états, the Georgian ballroom was not always what it seemed. Join Dr Hillary Burlock as she explores forgotten episodes of scandal in the assembly rooms of Jane Austen’s Britain.

Venue: Card Room, Assembly Rooms, Bennett Street, BA1 2QH

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Building Northanger Abbey

Monday 16th September - 12:30

Old medieval ruin or fake gothic new build? Following on from the success of our previous ‘Building Pemberley’ talk, join Dr Amy Frost to explore Jane Austen’s Gothic architecture (real and imagined), as the audience become the architects of Northanger Abbey. Bring your drawing skills with you – no matter how dodgy!

Venue: Museum Of Bath Architecture, The Countess of Huntingdon’s Chapel, The Paragon, The Vineyards, BA1 5NA

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Why Mr. Collins? The Church and Clergy in Jane Austen’s Novels

Monday 16th September - 14:00

Jane Austen thought highly of the church. Why, then, did she present Mr. Collins as an obsequious buffoon? This talk explores Mr. Collins’s words and character, comparing him to Austen’s other clergymen, satirical cartoons, and Anglican and Evangelical ideals. It will conclude with questions and a book signing for Brenda S. Cox’s Fashionable Goodness: Christianity in Jane Austen’s England.

Venue: St Swithin's Church, The Paragon, BA1 5LY

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Regency Health, Wellbeing, Medicine and 'The Waters"

Tuesday 17th September - 10:30 & 11:30

A unique opportunity to visit The Hetling Pump Room, pre-eminent location for taking The Waters in 18th century Bath before the Grand Pump Room opened. It was here the Austens came on one of their early visits in 1799 so that Edward could take the waters. Share the experience and listen to a short talk explaining the etiquette, effectiveness and expense of ‘taking the waters’ in the 18th century. There will also be an opportunity to share stories and scandal!

Venue: Bath Medical Museum, Hetling Pump Room, 1 Hetling Court BA1 1SH

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“Every Lady Her Own Shoemaker”: Georgian-Era DIY Cordwaining In The Drawing Rooms of “The Better Sort"

Wednesday 18th September - 10:00

During the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, the fad of fashioning one’s own footwear provided women of quality a new sewing diversion which left a historical footprint. Master Cordwainer Brett Walker explores the topic from the perspective of a “scholar-artisan,” offering practical advice to those seeking to walk in the footsteps of the past.

Venue: The Mission Theatre, 32 Corn Street, BA1 1UF

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Jane & Me, My Austen Heritage - with Caroline Knight

Wednesday 18th September 11:30

Join Caroline Jane Knight, Jane Austen’s fifth great niece and the last of Jane’s nieces to grow up at Chawton House on her family’s ancestral estate where Jane lived and wrote, for a glimpse into the family photo album, a unique insight into her childhood in the heart of Jane’s literary legacy and what inspired Caroline to launch the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation a decade ago.

Venue: The Mission Theatre, 32 Corn Street, BA1 1UF

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Honour's of the Table

Wednesday 18th September - 19:00

Mr Adams, butler in a grand Regency house, has been ‘in service’ for many years. Paying particular attention to the etiquette associated with sitting to table and the ‘art’ of dining he explains and demonstrates the complex process of setting the table for dinner.
The presentation is set in the year 1812 and supported by a very considerable range of silver, porcelain, and domestic items.

Venue: The Mission Theatre, 32 Corn Street, BA1 1UF

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Race For an Heir

Thursday 19th September - 10:00

Back by popular demand after her brilliant look at Regency Funerals in 2023; Maggie Barton returns to the Festival with an entertaining and interactive talk on the Georgian dynasty. With 13 children, the succession should have been secure but George III was driven to despair by disease, debauchery and death among his boys, while his girls were secreted away. Come and hear their stories, how the Regency period came into being and how the family was plunged into a frantic Race for an Heir.

Venue: The Mission Theatre, 32 Corn Street, BA1 1UF

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Stand & Deliver! Desirable Dress Accessories in the Georgian Age

Thursday 19th September - 11:30

Highwaymen have long exercised a grip on the romantic imagination, but why is this, and why were they considered a cut above common thieves? And what did these 'Gentlemen of the Road' take from their victims? Mark Wallis' lively talk will answer these questions through the use of original objects from his collection which the audience is welcome to examine.

Venue: The Mission Theatre, 32 Corn Street, BA1 1UF

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Pride & the Beast: The Jane Austen Fairytale

Thursday 19th September - 13:30

“Universal truths and happily ever-afters; Jane Austen and the fairy tale”
Monstrous, misunderstood men who own beautiful houses, young girls in red cloaks who fall prey to wolves in disguise, fathers who fall on hard times and let down their daughters; the plotlines of famous fairy tales, or themes within Pride and Prejudice? This talk, by Jane Austen’s House Director Lizzie Dunford, will explore the presence and influence of classic literary fairy tales in Austen’s beloved novels and what these influences can tell us about her own reading.

Venue: The Mission Theatre, 32 Corn Street, BA1 1UF

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Mansfield Park Book Club

Friday 20th September - 10:00

You are welcomed to Jane Austen Festival book club at Bath Library, to discuss "the one nobody likes", Mansfield Park. Please reserve a place to indicate you will be attending. You can also suggest a question or point to discuss during the session when booking.

Venue: Bath Central Library, 19-23 The Podium, BA1 5AN

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She played and sang: Jane Austen and music

Saturday 21st September - 10:00

In this presentation Gillian Dooley explains the place of music in Jane Austen’s life from her teenage years through to the end of her life, illustrating the talk by playing and singing a selection of songs and piano works from her own music collection, including some that we know she herself performed in her Chawton home in later life.
Gillian Dooley is the author of She played and sang: Jane Austen and Music (Manchester University Press, 2024) Copies will be on sale after the presentation.

Venue: Elwin Room, BRLSI, 16-18 Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2HN

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Dancing in Jane Austen's Novels - with John Mullan

Saturday 21st September - 11:30

‘It may be possible to do without dancing entirely,’ observes Jane Austen in Emma, with heavy irony – for she is about to show us how essential it is to the destinies of her characters. This talk will explore why dancing features in every one of Austen’s novels and will reveal what we need to know about the conventions governing the dances that she describes.

Venue: Elwin Room, BRLSI, 16-18 Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2HN

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The Delights of Jane Austen’s Dialogue - with John Mullan

Saturday 21st September - 14:00

Jane Austen was revolutionary in her use of dialogue, especially to comic ends. She invented distinctive voices for her characters, but she also made them imitate, provoke or misunderstand each other. Looking at examples from all Austen’s novels, we will see how she requires the reader to be a participant in their conversations: to hear what is not said – or what characters inadvertently give away about themselves.

Venue: Elwin Room, BRLSI, 16-18 Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2HN

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*To book tickets click on the underlined date of the talk to find that specific day's events.