As well as being unbearably beautiful, the city of Bath, located in South West England, is a city rich in literary history and readers from all over the world make a pilgrimage to the Georgian city. It’s basically a book lover’s paradise.
Books Set in Bath
‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen
Seven years ago, Jane Elliot turned down an offer off marriage from a man she loved on the persuasion of a friend. Now Captain Wentworth has returned to Bath and has made his fortune in the Navy. Will Jane get a second chance at love?
‘Evelina’ by Frances Burney
As Evelina enters high society, she encounters love, womanhood, society and the innocence of being a young woman in the eighteenth-century arena of sexual aggression and snobbery, all shrouded in polite decency.
‘The Canterbury Tales’ by Geoffrey Chaucer
Chaucer’s epic Middle English poem is the challenging tale of a group of pilgrims who assemble outside of a London inn and agree to entertain each other with tales as they travel to Canterbury. The pilgrims veer from a wordly Monk, a crusading Knight, the lusty Wife of Bath and the burly Miller.
Authors That Live in Bath
Author of ‘This Northern Light’, ‘Baby Blue’, ‘Bringing the Summer’ and more
Author of ‘The Last Leaves Falling’ (as Sarah Benwell)
Author of ‘Stolen’, ‘Flyaway’ and ‘The Killing Woods’
Author ‘Rachel Riley’ series, ‘Joe All Alone’, ‘White Lies, Back Dare’ and more
Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights
Tucked away in a side street off of Milsom Street (the city centre’s main shopping street) Mr B’s really lives up to it’s name. This indie bookshop caters to reading lists for the universities, has an impressive children’s and YA section and a gorgeous array of general fiction. All of the staff are lovely, chatty and on hand for recommendations. You can also get a Reading Spa where you sit down with a bookseller for an hour and they will curate a pile of books personally suited to you. That’s on our Christmas lists!
Toppings & Co.
Walking into Toppings is akin to walking into heaven. Tucked up on a corner at the top of the city, it stretches back far further than you could have imagined and features every book you could wish for. As well as general fiction, non-fiction, academic and a wonderfully curated YA section, Toppings hosts lots of signings and events so you’re bound to find plenty of signed copies, all wrapped up in a clear plastic package. They also offer you free tea and coffee to accompany you while you browse!
Smack bang in the middle of Milsom Street sits Waterstones Bath. It’s a huge store – the largest bookshop in the city – and it’s bursting with books specific to Bath and Jane Austen as well as a HUGE children’s, YA and general fiction section. This Waterstones is also a regular host of events for both the Bath Festival of Children’s Literature and Bath Literature Festival and has a new cafe that overlooks bustling Milsom Street.
Great Places to Read in Bath
The Royal Crescent
The green under the Royal Crescent is part of Royal Victoria Park (where scores of hot air balloons take off from in the summer) and is flooded with people as soon as the sun comes out. Picnics, football games, Frisbee tournaments and dog walkers flock to the Crescent and it couldn’t be a more perfect place for a blanket and a book to while away a summer afternoon. We know. We’ve done it. More than a few times…
The gorgeous gated gardens overlooking the Weir and the River Avon are quite a spectacle. Non-Bath residents are charged a small entry fee so these gardens are beautifully maintained and provide another perfect setting for a picnic, blanket and book, with the added bonus of a little cafe to get your ice cream fix!
About 10 minutes west of the city centre takes you to a gorgeous riverside pub and hotel, The Boathouse. The food is yummy and the views over the river Avon and outlying countryside are even better. In the summer, hot air balloons take off and land only minutes away and put on quite a spectacular show to accompany your pub garden reading.
Fun Literary Facts
- There’s no other city in the world more equated with Jane Austen. There’s a museum dedicated to her, shops are filled with paraphernalia, every summer a Regency parade walks the streets as part of the Jane Austen festival, she lived there for 5 years and even partly set three of her novels there. And yet she hated the society that came along with being in Bath: “Another stupid party last night; perhaps if larger they might be less intolerable, but here there were only just enough to make one card table, with six people to look over, & talk nonsense to each other.” (Letter to Cassandra, 13th May 1801)
- The Writing for Young People MA at Bath Spa University has produced and is taught by a slew of wonderful YA writers including Julia Green, CJ Skuse, Lucy Christopher, Sally Nicholls, Clare Furniss, Steve Voake and David Almond. Yeah, David Almond.
What are the best bookish bits of your city? Let us know at @maximumpopbooks!