Welcome

to a very exciting 18th annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath where appropriately this year the novel, partially set in this beautiful city, Persuasion is being celebrated. The Pre-Festival Get Together for the first time is in the very special venue of St Swithin’s Church where Jane Austen’s parents were married in 1764. The Spirituality of Jane Austen is explored by Paula Hollingsworth at Bath Abbey and the daily reading of the novel Persuasion takes place in Waterstones bookshop in Milsom Street.

The world famous Grand Regency Costumed Promenade from the Royal Crescent is followed by the Promenader’s Fayre in the Guildhall. Performing at the Fayre: Aardvark Theatre Company with their hilarious version of Pride and Prejudice and the opportunity to meet Rebecca Smith, Jane Austen’s great-great-great-great-great-niece. On the same evening and same venue, the popular Country Dance Ball completes the first busy day.

With Literary Music Ensemble, superb soprano Rosie Lomas performs music inspired by Persuasion at the Holburne Museum. Later in the week Adrian Lukis (Mr Wickham) tells us what it was like to film Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth. The Assembly Rooms host a day of Regency dancing in the Tea Room, Box Tale Soup’s unique adaptation of Northanger Abbey in the Great Octagon and the hilarious Austen Undone! Comedy walks start outside. Prof John Mullan discusses Persuasion and themes of other walks and talks include: etiquette, illness, the Navy, gambling, Georgian underwear, scandal, gardens, aunts and sisters.

I am particularly delighted to welcome the Chamber Opera Tours from Chicago with their acclaimed musical adaptation of Persuasion performing at the Mission Theatre. A new and exciting venture is ‘Rational Creatures’, organised by Bath’s young poet laureate, Polly Denny and six other poets performing their work based on Austen’s novels. The theatrical finale, Darcy’s Ball, promises to be an hilarious evening of bonnets and banter, from the Natural Theatre Company and a superb way to end another Festival.

I look forward to meeting you.

With very best wishes

Jackie Herring – Festival Director