authors · jane austen · novels · romance

Jane Austen, Persuasion and the Cobb at Lyme Regis

persuasion, jane austen, lyme regis, the cobb
The Cobb at Lyme Regis

If you follow me on Facebook you may already have seen some of my photos of Dorset on England’s south coast, where I spent Christmas.  On Christmas Day we visited Lyme Regis, a small town in Dorset, by the seaside.  I was most excited about this, as I’ve never been to Lyme before, and anyone who’s read Jane Austen’s Persuasion will know it as the setting for her novel.  It’s also the setting for John Fowles The French Lieutenant’s Woman, which features this famous scene between Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons on Lyme’s Cobb.

The Cobb is a man made wall that protects the harbour.  As quite often happens with these things, both the Cobb and the harbour were a lot smaller than I imagined.  The whole town is really quaint in a way that we northern England dwellers rarely find.  Fortunately the sun shone the afternoon we were there, but the sea was fairly wild and there were dark clouds scudding across the sky.

I walked right to the end of the Cobb, dodging the waves crashing beside me, and find it hard to believe that in these days of paranoid health and safety this sort of thing is still allowed :)  It was brilliant.  I find it harder to believe that Jane Austen allowed her characters to walk along there in their totally unsuitable long dresses!  Here’s the famous passage from Persuasion:


 There was too much wind to make the high part of the new Cobb pleasant for the ladies, and they agreed to get down the steps,

Jane Austen, the Coob, Persuasion, Lyme Regis
The steps from which Louisa fell

and all were contented to pass quietly and carefully down the steep flight, excepting Louisa; she must be jumped down them by Captain Wentworth. In all their walks, he had had to jump her from the stiles; the sensation was delightful to her. The hardness of the pavement for her feet, made him less willing upon the present occasion; he did it, however. She was safely down, and instantly, to show her enjoyment, ran up the steps to be jumped down again. He advised her against it, thought the jar too great; but no, he reasoned and talked in vain, she smiled and said, “I am determined I will:” he put out his hands; she was too precipitate by half a second, she fell on the pavement on the Lower Cobb, and was taken up lifeless!

I’m so glad I visited Lyme and will never read this passage in the same way again.  I can totally picture the scene, with the wild sea and skies and the rough stones of the Cobb.  It was a magical visit, and like Jane Austen I fell in love with Dorset altogether.

the cobb, lyme regis, jane austen, persuasion

A very strange stranger it must be, who does not see charms in the immediate environs of Lyme, to make him wish to know it better.‘  Jane Austen, Persuasion

lyme regis, the cobb, jane austen, persuasion
The tiny harbour in Lyme Regis

I hope you enjoyed my photos of Lyme :)  Do you love Persuasion as much as I do?  And if so, do my photos of the Cobb show it how you imagined?  Any comments at all, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you!

19 thoughts on “Jane Austen, Persuasion and the Cobb at Lyme Regis

  1. I’m green with envy! Being in such a setting is almost as good as transporting to a fantastical world.

    Persuasion may be my favorite Jane Austen novel, but I feel duty bound to rate Pride and Prejudice first, as it was the first Austen work I read as a girl, and immediately fell in love with.

    Thank you for sharing your lovely pictures,


    1. Hi Loren, I feel exactly as you do about Persuasion and P&P! I think I would have to say Persuasion is my favourite, also, but they’re both brilliant :)
      I’m glad you liked the photos. It’s a great place to visit for Austen fans. Hope you make it there some day.
      Thanks for your lovely comment!


  2. I love Lyme – visited it many years ago. Persuasion is my favourite Austen after P&P and I also liked the F. L. Woman so, like you, I had to walk along the Cob! You might enjoy Tracy Chevalier’s book, Remarkable Creatures, which is set along that coast. Great story of the famous woman, Mary Anning, who discovered many of the fossilized creatures in the cliffs there in early 19th century.


  3. Lovely pics, Helena. Don’t remember reading Persuasion, and after reading that passage, don’t believe I will. :( Grim. Enjoyed P & P back in the day, but I’m not one of those Austin fans, who think nothing’s been written sense that’s worth reading. LOL I do love wild water fronts and harbors–why I’m so fond of Maine. Sorry to be so late getting here. All those MIU emails about the Google changes have burried me. I change slowly. LOL


    1. Hi Marsha,
      Thanks for coming by. I know what you mean about change, especially in computing. I need to get a new laptop, and am putting it off and struggling on with my trusted old one because I dread having to learn new tricks :(
      Persuasion isn’t so grim really! Please do try it if you get the time. You can rely on Jane Austen to make sure all ends happily – which is one of the reasons I love her so much!
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Would LOVE to visit Maine some day.


  4. Welcome back, Helena! So glad you had a delightful holiday. There is nothing like the wild elements to get the creative mind going. I’d love to walk the Cobb someday. I love PP and Persuasion as well, and can imagine how actually being there brings the book to life in a vibrant way. Those books are timeless treasures. Thanks for sharing.


    1. Happy New Year to you, Gemma! I hope you enjoyed the holiday. You’re righ, Austen’s book are definitely timeless treasures. I first read Persuasion when I was fifteen, and have re-read it many times since then, and each time gained something different from it. So glad you enjoyed my post. Thanks very much for coming by!


  5. What a nice blog! Persuasion is also one of my favorite books.. I believe it is like the cornerstone of modern romance novels… definitively Jane Austen knew what she was talking about.
    Beautiful photos…. hope you had a great time and got good energy for this 2014…


  6. Loved the pictures and your description of walking out on the Cobb. A railing is probably sensible, but would ruin the image. I first became acquainted with the Cobb in The French Lieutenant’s Woman (the book and then the film). If I ever get to spend any significant time in England, Lyme Regis will be near the top of my destinations after the Tate Gallery.


    1. Hi Jeff, thanks for your comment. Glad you liked the photos. I’ve lived in England nearly all my life, and this was my first visit to Lyme. It’s on the south coast, whereas I live near the moors in the north of England, which has a totally different landscape. Both are equally beautiful, in their own way. I hope if you ever spend time in England, you have time to explore both regions. Thanks for your lovely comment, and for coming by!


  7. I just wanted to thank you for putting up these photos. I’m teaching Persuasion for a British Lit course I teach at a college in Texas. Ironically, I lived in Exeter for three years but never made it to Lyme. I regret I didn’t now. Your photos will help me illustrate why Austen describes Lyme romantically and also give an idea of Louisa’s fall! Persuasion is my favorite of the Austen novels; there is a bite to it that the others don’t have. A great example of this for me is her treatment of Sir Walter. Thanks for putting these up!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Jake, thank you so much for your comment. I’m so glad you found the photos useful. I think the UK may be smaller than the entire state of Texas, but this was only the first time in my life I’d ever been to Lyme. I’m so glad I did, too. Persuasion is also my favourite of Jane Austen’s novels. Wishing you all the best with your course, and I hope your students enjoy the trip to Lyme, even if only virtually.


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