Ahhh the Regency Life for me.


Austenland

Hold on to your bonnets ladies, Austenland is almost here. The film, which stars Keri  Russell as an uber  Jane Austen fan who travels to England for the vacation of a lifetime — a chance to live the Regency experience — won high marks at the Sundance Festival  and enjoyed a strong limited release this weekend. While the rest of us wait with bated breath for the film to come to our local movie house I thought I’d take a closer look at what life was really like in Jane’s day.  I was inspired by the August 15 HuffingtonPost.com article by Roy and Lesley Adkins which list 13 Reason You Wouldn’t Want to Live In Jane Austen’s England.

  1. Forced Marriage
  2. Infant Mortality
  3. Fetching Water
  4. Dangers of Fire
  5. Child Labor
  6. Chimney Sweeps
  7. Dubious Medicines
  8. Dodgy Dentistry
  9. Shocking Surgery
  10. Press Gangs
  11. The Bloody Code (Criminal Courts)
  12. Punishment After Death
  13. Injustice After Death

I’d like to humbly add my own warnings to coveting a life in an Empire dress.

An 1833 engraving of a scene from Chapter 59 o...

An 1833 engraving of a scene from Chapter 59 of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Bennet is on the left, Elizabeth on the right. This, along with File:Pickering – Greatbatch – Jane Austen – Pride_and_Prejudice – This is not to be borne, Miss Bennet.jpg, are the first published illustrations of Pride and Prejudice. Janet M. Todd (2005), Jane Austen in Context, Cambridge University Press p. 127 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First… forget about Darcy. If you are like me  (solidly in the middle class)  you’ve got about as much chance as marrying the Master of Pemberley (or  Donwell or Delaford or Mansfield) as you do of winning PowerBall. As Austen makes perfectly clear MONEY likes MONEY, and if you don’t have it you’re not likely to attract it. Maybe, if you are very, very pretty you might temp an unwary man (assuming there’s not an eagle-eyed sister, mother or aunt looking out for just your sort). However, with out the aid of modern dentistry and plastic surgery I hope that your beauty is God-given.

Be prepared to get sick. The food is going to totally suck. With out the benefit of an Amana French Door stainless steel refrigerator — the Regency cook’s best method  for preserving food is salt. Yum. The water is unfiltered and filled with lovely microbes and the milk is unpasteurized.

Ladies hush your mouth. If children were meant to be seen and not heard, members of the fairer sex weren’t expected to say much more. Certainly they weren’t expected to say anything that contradicted with the men around them. That may make Elizabeth Bennet all the more extraordinary, but don’t you go trying it.

Lady Catherine confronts Elizabeth about Darcy...

Lady Catherine confronts Elizabeth about Darcy, on the title page of the first illustrated edition. This is the other of the first two illustrations of the novel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Granted, it’s fun to don a Regency dress, long gloves and hat every once in a while, but I can’t imagine doing it every day. Summers must have been brutal (and aromatic) with all that fabric and no air conditioning.

Then again…I guess fantasy is part of the appeal of Austen’s novels. And every time I pick up one of Jane’s six novels (or one of the many Austen inspired books on my shelf) I’m a very willing participant in that fantasy…. As I will be when I go to see Austenland… if it ever makes it to a screen near me.

Jane Austen

Jane Austen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

3 responses to “Ahhh the Regency Life for me.

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