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25 April 2018: The Literary City of Bath

Few cities in the world are lucky enough to have the same literary history as we do here in Bath. Many famous authors have lived and written here, including Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley, Coleridge, and, of course, Jane Austen. As we here at Rooke Books are lucky enough to be based in Bath too, we thought we’d take a look at some of the books in our library who’s authors have unique connections to the literary city of Bath.

 

c1920 5vol Jane Austen The Novels Riviere Binding Pride and Prejudice

 

 

Jane Austen is perhaps Bath’s most famous literary connection, and much of her work was either written or set in the city. Austen lived here between 1801 and 1806 and her novels Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, both of which are predominantly set in Bath, reference many of the fashionable locations and areas of the city of which Austen herself was known to frequent. Many of the balls depicted in Northanger Abbey are set in the Assembly Rooms, within which the PBFA still holds its bi-annual book fair. We are lucky to have a wide range of Austen’s work in our library, including this beautiful set published and bound by Robert Riviere and Son. Riviere was a renowned English bookbinder, well known for his attractive decorative bindings and high quality work. Riviere itself has a strong connection to Bath, having been bought out by booksellers George Bayntun, who also reside in the city. This particular set also features many charming illustrations across all five volumes.

 

1834 6vols The Works of Hannah More Uniformly Bound With Memoir and Notes Scarce

 

 

Hannah More was an English religious writer, poet and playwright, renowned for her philanthropy, including the opening of the first school in Bristol. Born in Fishponds, Bristol, More wrote many of her literary works whilst teaching, and upon retiring from the management of the Bristol school moved to Bath, where she lived for ten years between 1792 and 1802. Before moving to Bath, More had associated herself with the literary circles in London, and was a member of the 18th century Blue Stockings Society led by hostess and critic Elizabeth Montagu. She also forged a strong friendship with William Wilberforce, and wrote heavily towards his anti-slavery campaign. The pair visited Cheddar together, where he was notably shocked with the general ignorance and distress found there. This collection of More’s works includes her poems, essays and plays and reflects the wide variety of More’s literary and philanthropic pursuits. The set comes directly from the library of the Titley Court Estate and reflects Elizabeth Greenly’s interest in More and her work.

 

1840 The Dramatic Works of Richard Brinsley Sheridan By Leigh Hunt The Rivals

 

 

Irish born playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan had a long history with the city of Bath, having relocated after his father took a job there teaching elocution. Some of his early work, including several translations undertaken with Nathaniel Brassey Halged appeared in the Bath Chronicle. One such work, The Ridotto of Bath went on to be reprinted to great success. However, Sheridan’s relationship with Bath wasn’t always positive. After agreeing to escort a betrothed woman to France, the plan ultimately failed, and upon return to England, the spurned partner, Major Matthews, challenged Sheridan to a duel. Sheridan won, and Matthews was forced to publish an apology in the Bath Chronicle. In 1772 a second duel took place in which Sheridan was seriously injured. This collected edition of Sheridan’s works is bound in a charming half calf binding with marbled boards and also contains a biographical account by critic and essayist Leigh Hunt.

 

 1840-c1893 25Vols Edward Bulwer Lytton Collection Routledge Victorian Novels

 

 

Edward Bulwer-Lytton was an immensely popular 19th century author, who published a stream of bestselling novels. Lytton is credited for coining the expressions ‘the great unwashed’ and ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. Bulwer-Lytton stayed in Bath a number of times, including a stay at the iconic Royal Crescent. Notably he wrote the last novel, The Parisians whilst staying in the city. This collection of Bulwer-Lytton’s works is an uncommon nineteenth century American printing of his work bound in the original red cloth. It contains 25 volumes of work, including his well-known novels The Last Days of Pompeii and The Disowned.  

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