Jane Austen and Country Inns

Today, Gene Gill, contributing editor of What Jane Austen Didn’t Tell Us!, writes about Jane Austen and country inns.

Jane Austen didn’t tell us the name of the Meryton inn where Elizabeth Bennet first observed a “proud, disagreeable gentleman” at the Assembly ball in Chapter 3 of Pride andPrejudice. I needed a name for that inn when writing Charlotte Lucas’ backstory since I imagined her father owning the establishment. I felt that Mr. Lucas, a social climber, would have named his inn for the highest possible social class, royalty, and so—consulting a list of the most popular names for 18th century English inns—The Rose & Crown seemed an obvious choice.

Country inns in Jane Austen’s time had evolved from rough coaching inns meeting only
travelers’ needs into places that also could serve as a town’s club, place of assembly and general resort. Of course, the local English inn continued to serve travelers, evoking this favorable commentary from an Englishman: “Neat inns, well-dressed and clean people keeping them…

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