Deborah Yaffe

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Sleep under Jane Austen's roof

By Deborah Yaffe, Apr 21 2014 01:00PM

Yet another goodie for Janeites to gaze at wistfully: an opportunity to win a mid-week stay in Bath, England, in a building described as “Jane Austen's five-bedroomed luxury town house.”


And all you have to do to enter the drawing is drop off your business card at the booth of a sales-training firm during the May 15 Swindon Business Show. I can’t say my mid-May travel plans currently include Swindon, but perhaps yours do. (In which case I will mail you my business card, along with a small bribe. Er, fee.)


As Janeites will remember, Austen lived in a number of different places during her Bath years (1801-1806), and the raffle offer doesn’t specify which one is featured. But the briefest of Google searches makes clear that it’s Number 4 Sydney Place, where Austen, her parents, and her sister, Cassandra, lived from 1801 to 1804. (Yes, 1804. The plaque is wrong.)


No question that Number 4 was a far pleasanter place than the lodgings the financially pressed Austen women were forced into after the Rev. George Austen – and his pension -- died in 1805. But even at their best, the Austen family finances were modest. Number 4 was no “luxury town house” when Our Jane lived there.


But renovated with all mod cons – you can now get free WiFi in Jane Austen’s house – it’s become a $250-a-night perch that’s just a short walk from Bath’s major tourist attractions. Austen’s novels may be pearls of incomparable worth, but in real estate only one thing is priceless: location, location, location.


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