This map plots the settings and references in The French Lieutenant's Woman
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Dorset is a county in the south west of England, adjacent to Wiltshire, Somerset, Hampshire and Devon.
The region has a history stretching back millennia. As well as the fossils that play a large part in the novel's early sections, there is archeological evidence of Stone Age settlements and Roman encampments.
The industrial revolution had relatively little effect on Dorset, which remained a primarily agricultural county. As the 19th century wore on, the area came to prominence in the fledgling trade union movement of the Tolpuddle Martyrs.
Although a railway was built in 1860 to link Dorset to the capital, London would still have seemed another world to the people of Dorset. The costumes, social mores and customs of the capital would have been regarded by locals as the cutting edge of fashion or scandalously modern, depending on personal outlook.
Lyme Regis is known as "the Pearl of Dorset". The town is placed at the northern edge of Lyme Bay, in the far west of Dorset.
The town first came to prominence in the 13th century, when it became an important trade port. By the 19th century the shallow harbour was no longer suitable for the ever-larger ships being constructed and Lyme's economic importance rapidly decreased.
Lyme's pretty whitewashed buildings, clean beaches and attractive countryside have made it a popular tourist destination for several centuries. The 18th and 19th century fashion for sea-bathing, believed to restore and maintain health, brought upper-class visitors to spa towns along the south coast, including Lyme. Among these visitors was Jane Austen, who records two visits to the town in her letters. She later used Lyme as the setting for parts of her novel Persuasion.
Outside the town, the scenery gets a little wilder, with dramatic cliffs and untamed wildernesses like the Undercliff. Lyme is well known for the large number of fossils found in the cliffs around the town. In 2004, a large stretch of the Dorset coast around Lyme was declared the Jurassic Coast UNESCO world heritage site because of its archeological importance.
Harley Street is a street in London famed since the 19th century for its large number of medical specialists. The doctors found on Harley Street tend to be those consulted by the fashionable and wealthy. In 1860, 20 doctors are recorded as having offices on the street, rising to 80 by 1900 (source).
Patmos can refer both to an island in the Aegean Sea and to John of Patmos, believed to be the author of the Book of Revelations in the Bible. Many Christians believe this man to be the same as the apostle Saint John, the companion of Jesus.
Exeter is a city in Devon (near Dorset) and was at the period of the novel one of the central transport hubs of the region, due to its railway links to London.
The Holy Land is the region in the eastern Mediterranean encompassing Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Syria and Jordan. Its holiness derives from it being the location of Jerusalem, a city of great religious significance for Jews, Muslims and Christians.