There are four houses in Bath that can claim to have accommodated Jane Austen during her active association with the city—an association that lasted approximately six years. In the summer of 1799 she stayed with her mother at 13 Queens Square for a month. A year later her father, the Rev. George Austen, gave up his living at Steventon in Hampshire, and decided to retire to Bath. A suitable house was found at 4 Sydney Place, and the family stayed there until the expiry of the lease three years later; a bronze tablet on the wall of the house identifies it as Miss Austen’s principal domicile in the city. A short lease was then taken on 27 Green Park Buildings, where Jane’s father died in January, 1805; and afterwards Mrs Austen and her daughters moved to 25 Gay Street. Little more than a year later, in the summer of 1806, they left Bath permanently moving first to Clifton and Southampton, and finally, in 1809, to the little village of Chawton in Hampshire, where Jane spent eight happy and productive years before her death in 1817.
She never liked Bath. Some time after leaving the city, she wrote to her sister Cassandra: ‘It will be two years tomorrow since we left Bath for Clifton, with what happy feelings of escape’. And perhaps she was mirroring her own feelings when, in Northanger Abbey, she has Isabella Thorpe confiding to Catherine Morland: ‘I get so immoderately sick of Bath; your brother and I were agreeing this morning that though it is vastly well to be here for a few weeks, we would not live here for millions’. Yet, in spite of her obvious dislike of the city, the major parts of two of her novels—Northanger Abbey and Persuasion—are set in Bath, and the life she herself led there is perfectly reflected in the pages of both of them.