Jane Austen’s Social Networks

On July 18th two hundred years ago, at a house in Winchester, Jane Austen died at the relatively young age of 41.  She had laid down her pen twelve chapters into her final novel (The Brothers, later published as Sanditon) in March of 1817, due to her worsening health, and it would remain unfinished.  Her…

The Art of Beauty: To rouge or not to rouge

Throughout our corpus of nineteenth-century novels, there are numerous references to the transformative power of cosmetics. As well as striving to survive the noxious levels of lead and arsenic in your potions and pastes, you are also tasked with achieving socially acceptable levels of rouging. According to Madam Lola Montez’s 1858 book The Art of Beauty or…

Insult of the Week: inferior poets are absolutely fascinating

Ah, poetry.  One of the great literary forms, with a history stretching back as far as the earliest written word!  Beloved genre of such giants as Sappho, Homer, Chaucer, and the anonymous author of The Poetic Works of a Weird (1827).  Being writers themselves, surely our novelists must have a healthy respect for the poetical…

A little light political commentary

  “How very suddenly you all quitted the European Union in June! It must have been a most agreeable surprise to Mr. Farage to see you all join him so unexpectedly; for, if I recollect right, he has been at odds with the EU for many a year. He and Mr. Johnson, and his fellows…

Dowries and Dowagers; or, Conjectures on Why Lady Catherine de Bourgh is So Rude

It’s one of Pride and Prejudice‘s pivotal and iconic scenes.  Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who’s incensed at “an alarming report” about her nephew’s likelihood of marrying “a young woman without family, connections, or fortune”, travels to Longbourn to confront Elizabeth, confident of being able to persuade or bully her into dropping any matrimonial ambitions in…

Image of the Week: A slice of Mrs. Weston’s wedding-cake

This weeks image is inspired by a short scene in Jane Austen’s Emma. Concerned for the digestive health of the guests at Miss Taylor’s wedding, Mr. Woodhouse tries to dissuade them from eating the wedding-cake… There was no recovering Miss Taylor—nor much likelihood of ceasing to pity her; but a few weeks brought some alleviation…

When is Elizabeth Bennet’s Birthday?

In Breihan and Caplan’s excellent 1990 article Jane Austen and the Militia, which throws a considerable amount of light on the historical underpinnings of Pride and Prejudice, the authors argue persuasively that the book is set in the years 1794 and 1795, by picking up on the many small military-historical hints that Jane Austen dropped…

Image of the Week: Summer bathing and sea air

In Chapter 12 of Austen’s Emma, Mr. Woodhouse questions his daughter Isabella’s decision to spend the autumn with her children at South End and adds sea air and swimming to his list of dangerous activities. “It was an awkward business, my dear, your spending the autumn at South End instead of coming here. I never had…

The Six Most Impertinent Things Ever Said By Elizabeth Bennet

Elizabeth is one of the truly great heroines of English literature.  She has fine eyes; she’ll walk three miles of muddy countryside without fear of censure or ruined hemlines; she has tremendous chemistry with Colin Firth, and these days she’ll even put down a zombie uprising for you.  But there’s one thing that really keeps…

“A charming amusement for young people”

In Chapter 6 of Pride and Prejudice, Sir William Lucas and Mr Darcy exchange some thoughts on the merits of dancing… Sir Lucas proffers “What a charming amusement for young people this is, Mr. Darcy! There is nothing like dancing after all. I consider it as one of the first refinements of polished society.” A less than impressed…

The 5 Least Important Characters in Pride and Prejudice

Two weeks ago we sent out a call to fans of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, to come answer a survey on how they rate the importance of the characters in the novel.  And the results are in! While we’re not going to release the full list of rankings just yet, I can assure you…