Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History, has written more than 50 books specializing in British Christianity. These books include: The Monastery Murders, clerical mysteries; Lord Danvers Investigates, Victorian true-crime; The Elizabeth and Richard series, literary suspense; and Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England. She loves research and sharing you-are-there experiences with her readers.
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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History
A traveling researcher engages people and places from Britain's past and present, drawing comparisons and contrasts between past and present for today's reader.
By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ June 14, 2019
Southampton was more than a seaside resort to Jane Austen. It was home to her for almost 3 years and her letters from there provide some of the most sparkling examples of her wit, as does as a reference in her early writing.
Although Jane seems to have been happy during her abode in Southampton, in spite of the fact that she was apparently too occupied with family matters and comings and goings to write anything but letters there, Southampton does not fare well in her Juvenile novel Love and Freindship, written in 1790.
In this cautionary epistolary tale, Laura writes to warn the younger Marianne of the dangers encountered by the girl’s worldy-wise mother: “Isabel had seen the World. She had passed 2 Years at one of the first Boarding-schools in London; had spent a fortnight in Bath...
By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ June 7, 2019
Because Lyme Regis was such a favorite seaside location for Jane Austen and because it offers such a pivotal location for her beloved novel Persuasion, our visit there extends over two blog posts. Last week’s part 1 covered: Lyme Regis as a model for Sanditon, my time in Pyne House where the Austens likely stayed and their move to less desirable lodgings, a visit to the Cobb, the filming of “Ammonite” about Mary Anning, and Jane dancing at the assembly.
Today we pick up our tour on our way to the beach with Jane: Now the seafront around the curving beach between Lyme and the smaller Cobb Hamlet is a paved promenade called Marine Parade, much of it lined with colorful cabanas. In Jane’s day it was...
By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ May 29, 2019
Of all the sites on our Jane-Austen-led itinerary, Lyme Regis is the one I have most looked forward to visiting. Probably because Persuasion is my favourite Austen novel and Lyme is the site of the book’s pivotal scene. (Although the town received its first royal charter, allowing it to use the title Regis, in the 13th century, it was simply called Lyme in Jane’s day.)
Lyme was part of the general seashore development along the south coast of England in the late 18th century in response to the craze for healthful sea-bathing. Lyme, like all the fashionable resorts springing up, had her visionary developer. Thomas Hollis, whose home was near Lyme, bought up run-down property which he demolished and rebuilt with improved views of the sea. His vision included a promenade and Assembly Rooms—which weren’t completed until after his death. Did Jane perhaps have Thomas Hollis in mind when she chose the name...
By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ May 22, 2019
A lovely bus journey continues our Jane-Austen-led seashore tour to Sidmouth. Of course, Jane would have been in a carriage, but the views through the pleasant, rolling countryside must have been similar. And when rain splattered the windows I was glad for the comfort of my modern conveyance.
Tree branches bursting with spring buds scraped the windows as well. I never cease to be amazed how English bus drivers maneuver their mammoth buses along such narrow roads. One field is full of sheep, the next hosts gorgeous fat pheasants. Then we break out into a view of the sea with chalk cliffs running right to the water’s edge. Then a field of black...
By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ May 17, 2019
Young (and experienced) writers are always advised to seek outside help for their work—join a writers’ group, find a good editor, acquire beta readers. But can you imagine a budding novelist being able to receive advice personally from Jane Austen?
That was the enviable experience of young Anna Austen Lefroy who...
By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ May 7, 2019
The explosion of popularity that gripped Georgian seashore resorts was perfectly timed for Teignmouth, whose fishing industry was declining. The first stirring of elegance came in 1787 when a tea house opened “amongst the local fishermen’s drying nets”. Tea rooms, which are not as thick on the ground today as they once were in England, continue to feature in Teignmouth.
Teignmouth, the western-most point on our itinerary, was listed as a “fashionable watering place” as early as 1803, a year after the Austens are believed to have spent several weeks there. When the Napoleonic wars hindered travel to France and the continent, tourists looked closer to home for their pleasures. Teignmouth...
By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ April 30, 2019
Literary tours led by authors are something of a travel industry standard and can bring great new insights to a trip. But have you ever been offered a literary tour led by an author who’s been dead for more than 200 years?
That’s what I undertook on my most recent research trip, and I invite you to come along as Jane Austen takes us to her favorite (and sometimes not-so-favorite) seaside resorts across the breadth of England.
The Regency period saw an explosion of seaside tourism for health and for...