Blog Archive

Courtship and Marriage in Jane Austen’s World

    The Book of Common Prayer (1662) made clear why (and why not) a couple should marry: (Marriage) is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in …

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Christmas Celebrations as Jane Austen Knew Them

 Many Christmas traditions and images of ‘old fashioned’ holidays are based on Victorian celebrations. Going back just a little further, to the beginning of the 19th century, the holiday Jane Austen knew would have looked distinctly odd to modern sensibilities. Families rarely decorated Christmas trees. Festivities centered on socializing instead of gift-giving. Festivities focused on …

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Know your phaeton from your curricle

I was delighted to be invited to offer Random Bits of Fascination part of my talk on Travel in Jane Austen’s time. My research came about through my own curiosity of the modes of transport Jane Austen gave her characters in the novels. Transport in Jane Austen’s time mostly revolved around one’s own two legs or …

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Men have Swords Women have Fans

“Men have the sword, women have the fan and the fan is probably as effective a weapon!” –Joseph Addison For centuries fans have appeared in paintings as the quintessential fashion accessory. They are so ubiquitous they call for a closer examination. Makers of fans Originating with the guilds of Europe, City Livery Companies have existed …

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Improving upon Nature: Beauty Training in the Regency Era

Beauty Training Improving upon nature   Catherine Worlée, Princesse de Talleyrand-Périgord (1762-1834)*oil on canvas*226 × 165 cm*1804-1805 With so much at stake, success in the marriage mart not the least consideration, suggestions abounded as to how a young woman might improve her natural beauty. Recommendations were not dissimilar to those we see today, including medicinal …

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To be an Accomplished Lady

To Be an Accomplished Lady   During the Regency era, a proper education was crucial to a middle or upper class young lady’s future. Since a woman’s only ‘proper’ aspiration was to marriage, her education focused on making her noticeable to potential husbands. Her accomplishments enabled her to display cultural distinction and set herself apart …

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Defining beauty in the Regency era

Defining Beauty in the Regency Era The Shape of Georgian Beauty Life in early modern societies was rife with bodily threats often resulting in bodily deformities. Nutritional deficits, disease and accidents all resulted in sometimes horrific alterations to the human form. Skin conditions, tumors, both benign and cancerous, and conditions like gout marked individuals in …

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Gentlemen in the Regency Era

Of Social Class,  Gentlemen and the Gentlemanly Professions The nuances of social class and what makes a gentleman a gentleman remains a perennial source of confusion for Austenesque and Regency readers. How these men provided a livelihood for themselves and their families proves even more bewildering as some gentlemen had a profession, others did not, …

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Mistress of the manor: Lady of leisure or Full time working mom?

Mistress of the manor: Full time working mom or Lady of leisure? Period dramas have left many of us with the notion that ladies of the landed gentry in the Regency era had little to do but dress in lovely gowns, embroider and gossip.  Reality could not be farther from this image. In general, both master …

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Vicars, Curates and Church Livings

Vicars, Curates and Church Livings I must confess, trying to understand the Regency clergy just about drove me over the edge. References didn’t answer my questions, then they would contradict one another. I thought I’d pull my hair out. Nancy Mayer at Nancy Mayer-Regency Researcher came to my rescue and straightened out so much of …

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