Dress for Excess: Fashion in Regency England, the fashion exhibition at the Brighton Pavilion this year, features a quilted printed (chintz) banyan, or men’s dressing robe worn over a shirt and knee breeches.
Tag: Jane Austen
In today’s article, Angelyn Schmid tells us about Richard Sharp. No, not the fictional Regency soldier, Richard Sharpe. This Richard Sharp, without the "e," was a real man who lived during the Regency. A man who was very popular with many people across all classes. Once you know more about him, despite the fact that he would prefer you did not, you might like him nearly as well as those who knew him in life.
If you have read Pride and Prejudice, even if you recognized the reference to Fordyce’s Sermons, you may not get the subtle joke Jane Austen intended. It would have been understood by most readers of her era, particularly the ladies, but the majority of modern readers will miss it all together. Today, Regency romance author, Jane Lark, whose most recent book is The Passionate Love of a Rake, will explain Jane Austen’s joke with regard to Mr. Fordyce’s book of sermons so that we can all enjoy the fun.
In honor of Jane Austen’s two hundred and thirty-eighth birthday, today we have an article by Angelyn Schmid about the importance of reading, not only in the Regency, but specifically in the novels of Jane Austen. Though she did not have many years of formal education, Jane Austen was an avid reader, as were some of the characters in her books. Angelyn also explains what it meant to be literate during the Regency.
Happy Birthday, Jane!
This is the second and final article in Ann Lethbridge’s series on Regency-era beauty products. As we learned from her last article, the use of these products was not restricted to ladies. There were a number of toiletry products which were also regularly used by men during the Regency. She includes an image of an eighteenth-century shaving stand which was sent to her by one of the readers of her first article. A most intriguing contraption.
Ann also offers a home recipe from the era on how to make one’s own lavender water. Once you understand its many benefits, would you consider making some?
A couple of years ago, author Jane Lark and her husband travelled to Warwickshire to visit Stoneleigh Abbey. This lovely country manor was the home of the Leigh family from the 1560s through 1990. The Leigh family were cousins of the Austen family and during Jane Austen’s lifetime, she spent time at this lovely estate. In today’s article, Jane Lark shares her perceptions of the house and the various ways in which it is connected to the works of Jane Austen.
When Jane Austen wrote her novels, she used a quill pen and a bottle of ink to make a fair copy of her manuscript on hand-made paper. She sent it off to her publisher, who had it type-set by hand, printed and distributed to book-sellers and circulating libraries. Her publisher might have taken out an ad in some of the more widely circulated newspapers. That was the extent of book promotion during the Regency. But for those who write Regency novels today, technology has made it possible to promote those books in a number of different ways. In today’s article, Cheryl Bolen shares some tips from a web mistress who has designed web sites for a number of prominent authors. Whether you have had a web site for years or have just published your first novel and are ready to set up your web site, you will find sage advice from a professional in Cheryl’s article.
Our Regency Personage for December was born in December
Jane Austen was born on December 16, 1775. She was the seventh of eight children and only the second daughter. Her father was a clergyman.
Her oldest brother was James who became a clergyman like their father.
The second brother was George about whom not much is known. It is thought that he was deaf because Jane knew how to “speak with her fingers.” Some say he had other problems and might have been a Down’s syndrome child. George lived in a private home with a caretaker all his life.
Are you planning a big wedding scene in your next Regency novel, the bride in a brand-new white wedding gown and veil, a flock of bridesmaids in matching gowns, and a church-ful of guests throwing rose petals as the happy couple leaves the church? You may want to re-think all of that after you read the article Cheryl Bolen has for us today.
How couples really courted and married in Regency days …
ASSEMBLY ROOM – Round-up of the best Regency and historical posts
Posts collected by Angelyn Schmid, a member of The Beau Monde. Like history? Fall in love with it! Check out my blog at www.angelynschmid.com on history and romance.
- Sisters of Ill Repute: The Regency’s Harriette Wilson and Her Profligate Sisters by Cheryl Bolen (main.thebeaumonde.com)
- Regency Valentines: Around the Worldly, Wide Web (anneglover.wordpress.com)
ASSEMBLY ROOM – Round-up of Regency and historical posts
by The Beau Monde member Angelyn Schmid.
Amusing personals from the newspaper: http://bit.ly/z8xuVy
Jane Austen’s primer on the Napoleonic wars: http://bit.ly/wTljcj
Today we offer you an article by Cheryl Bolen about the way in which young people of both sexes were educated during the Regency. She presents some interesting facts on a Regency education which authors might find of value in their research. Bolen makes clear that the education of ladies was not ignored, nor was education available only to the wealthy. However, as you read about education in Regency times, consider whether or not you would have enjoyed getting an education, Regency-style.
A cross-post from The Regency Redingote:
No, this book is not about Jane Austen’s Mrs. Hurst from Pride and Prejudice. The Mrs. Hurst who lent her name to the title of this delightful volume was a real woman, who lived during the Regency. Her home was in a small English village in Buckinghamshire called Newport Pagnell, and she loved to dance. She was captured in full swing one evening at her home in a charming watercolor by a young friend, Diana Sperling.
The full title of this book is Mrs Hurst Dancing & Other Scenes from Regency Life 1812 – 1823. I stumbled across it in my local library and was immediately enchanted. This volume contains full-size reproductions of a number of watercolor sketches made by a young woman called Diana Sperling during the years of the Regency and just beyond. Miss Sperling also wrote witty explanatory captions for most of these watercolors which gives a real flavor of the daily life of a family of the minor gentry during the Regency.
Sense & Sensibility is 200 Years Old
Did you know that Jane Austen’s first book is 200years old?
Originally published in 1811, Jane Austen’s first published novel is now 200 years old and has been revered as a classic romance of manners. Becca from our friends at The Jane Austen Gift Shop in Bath, UK, has news about the book and a beautiful Special Leatherbound Edition.
An amazing announcement from the Bath Chronicle and read more of their article….
An unfinished novel which Jane Austen started writing when she was living in Bath has been sold at auction for £993,000.
“One theory is that the storyline was too close to home, too autobiographical. Also, she wasn’t particularly settled or happy when living in Bath. There were financial problems, her father died when she was living here, so it has been suggested that she had a lull in her writing when she was here because she wasn’t settled.”
The only surviving manuscripts of Austen’s completed novels are two draft chapters of Persuasion, which are kept at the British Library, her younger work Lady Susan, which is at the Morgan Library in New York, and Sanditon, which is at King’s College, Cambridge.
Ms Newton added that she was not surprised The Watsons had sold for such a large sum of money. She said: “Original Jane Austen-related artefacts would always go for a lot of money. There has been a recent surge in popularity and there is so much interest in her life and work. ……There aren’t many artefacts from her life, so these kind of pieces give us a real insight into how she worked.”
Experts believe Emma – the headstrong and independent-minded heroine of the novel – is based on the author herself.
Postage costs in Regency Context
The cost of postage had risen in 1784 as the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained that the increases would be on the mail instead of a tax on coal. The income from letters was used to boost the funds of the Government, and the prices were raised again in 1797, 1801, 1805 and 1812.
During the wars against France (1793-1815) the income was regarded as a tax levied to help the war effort, but once Napoleon had been defeated, there was a backlash of feeling against the high rates. By this time, it was often hard to decide if it was worth sending a letter at all: the cost of a letter could be as much as a day’s wages for a working man. It became a matter of importance to get around the cost in one way or another. For instance it was cheaper to send a letter from London to Scotland by the coastal shipping – 8 pence instead of by road which cost 13½ pence (1sh.1½d).
Because the recipient usually paid the cost of the delivery, it was possible to arrange to send an empty letter (or one with an agreed error in the name or address) – so that the recipient would know the handwriting, realize that all was well with the sender, so refuse to accept it, and not have to pay.
To give some idea of comparative costs:
- in 1825 on a suggested budget of £250 a year given by Mrs Rundell in her New System of Domestic Economy for ‘a gentleman, his lady, three children and a Maid-Servant’, where food took £2.11.7d a week or £134.2.4d a year, the biggest single item was
- 10s 6d a week for butcher’s meat (18 lbs at 7d a pound, or about ½ lb each day), followed by
- 7s for beer and other liquors
- 6s for bread
- 3s 6d for 3½ lb butter
- 3s 6d for fish
- 3s for sugar (4½ lb at 8d a lb) and
- 2s 6d for tea (5 ozs at 8s a pound)
- two pounds of candles cost 1s 2d a week in 1825
- coal and wood 3s 9d
- rent and taxes were allowed at only £25 a year
- clothes (for 5) £36
- the maid £16
- the education of 3 children £10.10s.
There were small margins for recreation, medical expenses and savings, but although the family probably had more than enough food in total, it devoted only 3d each week a week to milk (2 pints) and 6d each to fruit and vegetables.
However, on an income of £1000 per annum the budget is quite different! Now there is an establishment of 10, for besides the same-sized family there is a cook, a housemaid, a nursery-maid, a coachman and a footman, whose combined wages are £87 a year ; there is also a ‘Chariot, Coach, Phaeton or other four-wheel carriage, and a pair of horses’, costing £65-17s a year in keep. The family consumes 52½ lb of meat a week – a daily allowance of ¾ lb for each person – there is now a guinea a week for drink, and ¾ lb of butter for each person. The smallest items are still fruit and vegetables (9d per person per week) and eggs and milk (4½d per week).
Taken from John Burnett, A History of the Cost of Living (Penguin Books, 1969)
Mrs Dashwood – in trying to dissuade her husband from giving his mother and sisters any money at all, points out that they will be so well off, they will need nothing.
… Altogether, they will have five hundred a year amongst them, and what on earth can four women want for more than that? They will live so cheap! Their housekeeping will be nothing at all. They will have no carriage, no horses, and hardly any servants; they will keep no company, and can have no expenses of any kind!
Only conceive how comfortable they will be! Five hundred a year! I am sure I cannot imagine how they will spend half of it
But, if, in addition to feeding/clothing the four ladies of the house, they would have to provide living quarters/food/uniform for the house servant, and if they grew their own food, they would have to employ a gardener – more outlay. Allowing for the fact that they would probably make their own clothes, they would still have to buy the materials. It would not be luxurious living by any standards.
So, it does seem as though the parsimonious Mrs John Dashwood could have convinced herself that her four indigent in-laws could manage with no financial help from their brother.
( This article is re-posted with the kind permission of earsathome.com)
There was no compulsion to pay postage until the 1850’s, but the choice to pay or not was available right from the beginning of the postal systems.
What about the payment of one penny to the postman on the street?
In Frank Staff’s book, The Penny Post, 1680-1918, he includes an illustration of ‘A postman with a bell about 1820. The penny he received for taking the letter to the General Post Office was his perquisite.’
This was because it was not the usual practice, as there were so many Receiving Houses, both for the General Post, and for the London Penny Post, that it was easy enough to take your letter to the nearest one.
He also quotes from The Picture of London for 1805: Houses or boxes for receiving letters before four o’clock at the West-end of the town, and five o’clock in the City, are open in every part of the metropolis; and after that hour bellmen collect the letters during another hour, receiving a fee of one penny for each letter.
The bellman disappeared from London streets from the 5 July 1846, following a announcement by the Postmaster General that they were to be abolished. This illustration is of a British postage stamp issued in 1979 to mark the centenary of the death of Sir Rowland Hill.
Generally the head of the family would pay the postage on letters, whether it was sending the servant to the post office to deliver the letters written, or to collect the incoming letters. In Jane Austen‘s books there are many references to the mail. The Bennet family is in a fever of anticipation waiting to hear from Mr. and Mrs Gardiner after Lydia has eloped, and that comes in from the post office.
In the other cases letters are delivered by servants, or slipped into the hands of the receiver. Vicar’s daughters – as represented so beautifully by Jane Austen – would be unlikely to have money of their own so the father would have paid. It was generally accepted that the recipient paid the postage, therefore they would only write to someone they knew would be able to pay to receive it.
People likely to send paid letters :-
- Solicitors, who added the cost of postage to the bill – I have many such letters, listing the details of the accounts, in which Postage is quite a large amount.
- Commercial travellers would send it unpaid so head office would pay the incoming postage bills. I have a series of 40 letters from a commercial traveller in haberdashery from 1828-1832, written to his head office in London. The letters are posted from all over England as he drives out to make sales, and not one of these letters has been pre-paid.
However, some were less happy about paying postage –
this example was written by Mr Matthew Tate from Hull in the north of England, in 1837, and he sounds very irate he writes :
you may inform your clients that I will pay no more than I am indebted to them, the postage of letters I will not submit to pay, as they never post pay there letters to me.
He then adds this cryptic postscript.
P.S. you may inform them if they save a Loss they may perhaps catch a Louse.
The Jane Austen Centre is a permanent exhibition which tells the story of Jane’s Bath experience – the effect living there had on her and her writing.
Who wants to go? I do!
So come and have a look with me.
Jane Austen is perhaps the best known and best loved of Bath’s many famous residents and visitors. She paid two long visits here towards the end of the eighteenth century, and from 1801 to 1806 Bath was her home. Her intimate knowledge of the city is reflected in two of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, which are largely set in Bath.
The city is still very much as Jane Austen knew it, preserving in its streets, public buildings and townscapes the elegant well-ordered world that she portrays so brilliantly in her novels. Now the pleasure of exploring Jane Austen’s Bath can be enhanced by visiting the Jane Austen Centre in Gay Street. Here, in a Georgian town house in the heart of the city, the visitor can find out more about Bath in Jane Austen’s time and the importance of Bath in her life and work.
The Exhibition Information about the Centre’s permanent exhibition
The Regency Tea Rooms Award winning Tea Rooms up on the 2nd floor of the Centre
Jane Austen Walking tours Take a magical trip around the city with us
Jane Austen Quiz Test yourself with our online quiz
Free e-newsletter Keep up to date with the latest Jane Austen news.
I love peeking into Jane Austen’s World to see the latest on Regency Fashion. Whenever there is an opening, I’ll post another fascinating item.
Todays is a Banyan. Enjoy!
Regency Fashion: Banyan, a man’s dressing gown
When at home, a gentleman would change into an informal knee-length dressing gown known as a banyan, and wear it around his family at breakfast, playing games, such as cards or backgammon, and while reading in his library or writing letters. One can readily imagine Mr. Bennet wearing a banyan in his study, and most definitely Mr. Woodhouse (image below), as he sat by the fire reading a newspaper.
The banyan was a loose, full kimono style in the early 18th century, but later evolved into a more fitted style with set-in sleeves, similar to a man’s coat. It was known as an Indian gown, nightgown, morning gown, or dressing gown. First used as a type of robe, it was originally worn for leisure and in at-home situations; but came to be worn as a coat out-of-doors, in the street, or for business. Many gentlemen had their portraits made while wearing banyans. They were made from all types of fabrics in cotton, silk, or wool (Cunningham, 1984).