Cass Grafton on the importance of location in Regency fiction

Writing historical fiction is the perfect way to travel through time without any of the unpleasant inconveniences of less-than-ideal hygiene and health conditions.

I particularly enjoy penning stories set in the Regency era, and aside from obvious topics to investigate, such as the social customs of the day, food, health, transport and more, I love to visualise the ‘backdrop’ as the characters move across the page. Enter a great excuse for copious visits to wherever I’ve chosen to set the current work in progress to do some ‘research’! 

Part of the inspiration for my first work of fiction was my love for Jane Austen’s novels and, in particular, Pride & Prejudice. Add in a deep-rooted adoration of Bath and the desire to ‘see’ Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet moving around this beautiful city in the early 1800s, and the idea for a novel soon formed. 

The Georgian city of Bath is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, about 100 miles west of London, and it was in the 18th century that the city firmly took its place as a sought-after destination for the wealthy and elite to gather (along with those who aspired to become acquainted with them).  

The external architecture provides the perfect backdrop for a Regency novel, but enter many of the wonderful buildings and you will also see echoes of the past in the interior design. For the very best experience, visit No 1, Royal Crescent. This wonderful town house, the first of thirty forming the stunning Royal Crescent, has been decorated and furnished as it might have been in the late 18th century, both above and below stairs.  

Fancy travelling back in time to the Regency era yourself, but with all the modern conveniences? Then you could do no better than book a trip to Bath in September, when the annual Jane Austen Festival takes place.  

It’s a whole sumptuous ten days of celebrating all things Austen, but also everything Regency. The fabulous costumed promenade of hundreds of happy ‘time-travellers’ in elegant period dress is a sight to be seen. There are plays, musical performances and talks on anything from what a Regency lady kept in her reticule (bag) to what a gentleman wore under his outer garments. You can try your hand at bonnet making or cross-stitch, attend a ball—dance lessons are also on offer—or simply enjoy a guided walk around the city where you will learn all about Bath in the Regency era (the good and the not so good)! 

So, step into a costume (your own or hired) and, with such a fitting backdrop, it’s easy to believe you’ve travelled back in time by a couple of hundred years. I might just see you there!




Thank you so much, Jane, for inviting me to be part of your series on the Regency era. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to time-travel in my head once again to the early 19th century!