Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2007

A walking-dress cannot be constructed too simply. All attractive and fancy articles should be confined to the carriage-dress, or dinner and evening apparel. We shall here particularly address the order of females who may not have the luxury of a carriage, and yet be within the rank of gentlewomen. This class composes treble the number of those of whom fortune has bestowed the appendages of equipages and retinue. We shall in our observations particularly aim at increasing their respectability, by leading them to adopt a style of adornment which, while it combines fashion and elegance, shall be remarkable only for its neatness and simplicity.

Written by a Lady of Distinction in “The Mirror of Graces,” 1811, p. 113

February 1811
April, 1811


October, 1811

October, 1811


November, 1811

Read Full Post »

London Fog

From “An American in Regency England,” Louis Simonds writes in March 5, 1810

“It is difficult to form an idea of the kind of winter days in London; the smoke of fossil coals forms an atmosphere, perceivable for many miles, like a great round cloud attached to the earth. In the town itself, where the weather is cloudy and foggy, which is frequently the case in winter, this smoke increases the general dingy hue, and terminates the length of every street with a fixed grey mist, receding as you advance.”

Mr. Simond’s also writes:

“The inhabitants of London, such as they are seen in the streets, have, as well as the outside of their houses a sort of dingy, smoky look; not dirty absolutely–for you generally perceive clean linen–but the outside garments are of a dull, dark cast, and harmonize with mud and smoke. Prepossessed with a high opinion of English corpulency.”

In fact, by the 1800’s more than a million London residents were burning coal, and winter fogs became a frequent and pervasive nuisance. How can we tie in these London fogs to Jane Austen’s works? Here’s an excerpt from an interesting online essay:

Escaping the Fog of Pride and Prejudice

The words of the title of Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, shroud the main characters, Elizabeth and Darcy in a fog. The plot of the novel focuses on how Elizabeth and Darcy escape the fog and find each other. Both characters must individually recognize their faults and purge them. At the beginning of the novel, it seems as if the two will never be able to escape the thick fog. The scene at the Netherfield ball makes the marriage of Elizabeth and Darcy much more climactic because the pride and prejudice of both increases greatly during the night….

Elizabeth later declines a proposal from Darcy. He proposed, while his pride and love for Elizabeth were still conflicting. His proposal was like Collins’, he felt he was giving Elizabeth a great honor. He told her of his struggle to overcome his dislike of Elizabeth’s family. The proposal is so unromantic that Elizabeth returns a harsh rejection. This is when Darcy recognizes his pride and begins to purge it. As a truer character is revealed before Elizabeth, she her own prejudice towards him and quickly loses it. The marriage of Elizabeth and Darcy is such a great one because each had to conquer numerable obstacles to be able to accept the other. The Netherfield ball introduced many of the obstacles which made the marriage seem impossible.

Read Full Post »

A lady’s necessities, such as a fan, scent bottle and handkerchief, were carried in a small bag, or reticule, which was often circular or losenge-shaped. Mrs. Elton in Emma had a purple and gold reticule in which she had carried a letter. For carrying coins, a popular purse was was the ‘stocking’, or ‘miser’s purse’; long and narrow in shape, with an opening in the centre, it had two rings to close it and ornaments at either end. Many of these were knitted, netted, or crocheted, and making purses was a popular pastime; Mr. Bingley in Pride and Prejudice considered netting a purse a female ‘accomplishment.’

P 150, Jane Austen’s Town and Country Style, Susan Watkins.

Also see:

The Costumer’s Manifesto

The Georgian Index

Read Full Post »

History of Valentine’s Day

The reason behind Valentines Day celebration dates back to the Roman Empire. During the 3rd century, Rome was engaged in many unpopular wars, and Emperor Claudius II was having trouble persuading soldiers to join his military. He believed this was due to men’s attachments to their lovers or families so he outlawed all marriages in Rome.
Enter St. Valentine, a Roman priest.

Valentine thought the Emperor’s decree was unjust and began performing secret marriages for young lovers. When his actions were finally discovered, he was imprisoned.

While in prison, Valentine supposedly fell in love with his jailer’s daughter. Before his death, it is said that he wrote her a letter, which he signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is used today. This is considered the first valentine. Click here for the source of this information.

In the 14th century Valentine’s Day began to be celebrated with loved ones and a large feast was organized to mark the day. Valentine greetings were said or sung, but by the 15th Century beginning to be put into writing. In 16th century began the custom of exchanging gifts between lovers with the passing of paper Valentine. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day celebrations took off around the 17th century. The oldest known valentine still in existence today is a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife, while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. The valentine is now part of a collection in the British library in London, England.

Initially, valentines were usually handmade and given anonymously. During the 1800s much larger hand-painted copperplates molded in the shape of hearts replaced paper e-cards. In later years, the copperplates gradually gave way to woodcuts and carvings and lithographs. By the middle of the 18th century, Valentine’s Day become popular amongst the masses and it became a common tradition for all social classes to secretly exchange small tokens of lover or handwritten love notes called Valentine. Despite the existence of the pre-printed card, the majority of valentines were one of a kind and made by hand. Consequently, few exist today.By the middle of the 18th century, it was common for friends and lovers in all social classes to exchange small gifts or handwritten notes on that day.
By the end of the century, printed cards began to replace written letters. Cheaper postage rates helped contribute to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings.

http://www.stvalentinesday.org/valentines-day-celebration.html

The History.Behind.Valentines.Day

Read Full Post »

Talking to Jane Austen

An interesting and comprehensive site for Jane Austen Fans has her answering questions, such as the one listed below. Click on Talking to Jane Austen to enter.

Question:
What relevance do your stories hold for the modern day teenager?(Pam, aged 25+ from Barstable in Essex)

Answer:
Dear Pam,

Modern day teenagers are, of course, much wiser than I am and I would no doubt have much to learn from them, and possibly much to envy them – female freedoms are on the increase, I gather!

And note how ‘sarky’ I was to sister Cassandra about the “one damn pregnancy after another” situation for even privileged ladies in the married state in my time (all my major novels ended with marriage): “Poor animal, she will be worn out before she is thirty!” I wrote of a favourite niece. Happy endings, indeed!

Perhaps there is something to learn from me, after all, but pick your novel with care.

In Northanger Abbey, Catherine, my ingenuous heroine, is genteel, but a country girl and in some ways a gullible ninny come up to town (Bath, actually).

Catherine’s honesty and essential sanity and goodwill do not prevent a good deal of suffering, especially when she appears to have been cast off by the Tilney family, and ‘saved’ only by the last-minute loyalty of her (slightly patronising) boyfriend Henry.

The other novels might appeal in offering dilemmas and life-choices in what seems a different social scene. In Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice, pairs of sisters – Marianne and Elinor Dashwood and Jane and Elizabeth Bennet – have to negotiate their way in a patriarchal, patronising society without losing their essential human dignity, selling themselves or selling themselves short. Their exposure and vulnerability through economic pressures is quite well depicted, I think.

Marianne is dumped by her apparently dashing but quite callous young fellow Willoughby and finds chastened protection with the good old Colonel. Elinor goes through hell with skulking Edward, but gets him in the end, for what the glum fellow is worth. Elizabeth endures intolerable pressures to get her Darcy only on terms that preserve her pride, and her sense of deep concern for trusting sister Jane. Jane keeps smiling through as her true love Bingley is twitched away by his designing family while her family, by contrast, seems to do all it can to devalue itself and make itself ridiculous. Oh, the trials and tribulations of young love!

If you do happen to be privileged, look at Emma and you will unlearn arrogance, a desire to patronise the older or weaker members of society, and cease to be manipulative and self-regarding – if you were in the first place. Mind you, I loved Emma – faultless in spite of all her faults.

Yours truly,

Jane

Read Full Post »

Ophelia’s Valentine’s Song

Valentine’s Day has been a celebration for lovers since the medieval period.

Jane Austen would certainly have known Ophelia’s Song, written by William Shakespeare in the 16th century.

To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
Then up he rose, and donn’d his clothes,
And dupp’d the chamber- door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.
By Gis and by Saint Charity,
Alack, and fie for shame!
Young men will do’t, if they come to’t;
By cock, they are to blame.
Quoth she, before you tumbled me,
You promised me to wed.
So would I ha’ done, by yonder sun,
An thou hadst not come to my bed.

Read Full Post »

Fashionable London Addresses

Grosvenor Street, near Park Lane (right)

Grosvenor Square (Left)

“One’s address was a symbol of status. Maria obtained ‘one of the best houses in Wimpole Street'; the Johan Dashwoods (Sense and Sensibility) were well situated in Harley Street; while the Bingleys (Pride and Prejudice) found equally upper-crust accommodations in Mr. Hurst’s house in Grosvenor Street. By contrast, the Gardiners, who were in trade, lived in Gracechurch Street, in the commercial district of London and within sight of Mr. Gardiner’s warehouse.” From: Jane Austen’s Town and Country Style by Susan Watkins.Wimpole Street

“The Georgian period in London coincided very neatly with the Palladian Revival in architecture and art. Lord Burlington, in his 1715 design of Burlington House in Piccadilly, played a major role in popularizing this classical style which became the norm for much of the century. A few years later, in 1725, Lord Burlington was at it again, with his remodeling of Chiswick House, then a country retreat but now part of the greater London sprawl.

At the same time Grosvenor Square was laid out in Mayfair, part of the Grosvenor family’s development of that aristocratic district. More London squares followed, notably at Berkeley Square (design by William Kent). Kent was also responsible for building the Treasury Building(1733), and the Horse Guards (1745).” From: (Britain Express)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,496 other followers