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Cookie Recipe and Helpful Hints for our 3D Jane Austen Cookie Cutter

cookie recipe

3D Cookie Cutter

Here at the Jane Austen Gift Shop, we’ve had a great reaction to our new 3-D Jane Austen cookie cutter.

These ingenious plastic cutters enable you to make biscuits, pastries and sandwiches not just in the shape of Jane’s sihouette but as a full living likeness of her!

So we asked our supplier if they could give us a cookie recipe to go with it, along with any helpful hints for all prospective cookie chefs out there.

And so, without further ado:

How to Make Super Shape Sugar Cookies (This recipe can make up to five-dozen 3″ cookies.)

Ingredients:

6 cups flour
3 tsp. baking powder
2 cups unsalted butter
2 cups sugar (white granulated)
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract or desired flavoring
1 tsp. salt

Cookie Recipe Instructions:
1. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Mix the dry ingredients and add a little at a time (that’s important!) to the butter mixture. Mix until the flour is completely incorporated and the dough comes together.
2. Chill for 1 to 2 hours.
3. Roll to the desired thickness and cut into shapes. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees F, for 8 to 10 minutes (or until just beginning to turn brown around the edges.)
Et voila!

And now, for some Tips and Tricks!

While this all seems pretty self-explanatory, highly detailed cutters can be a little tricky until you get into a rhythm with them. Here are the tricks that work best for us!

– We like to bake our cookies on parchment paper (on top of cookie sheets). It makes it much easier than trying to scrape them off a pan before they cool, especially when some of them have delicate parts.

– Coat your rolling pin in a little flour when rolling out your pre-chilled dough, and coat your cutter in flour before each cut. (You can also use a nonstick spray.) If you’re still having some problems with sticking in an especially detailed area, put a little bit of flour directly on the dough where you’re going to cut.

– Press your cutter into the dough. If there is a stamp/impression, make sure it’s been made. Wiggle the cutter a little in place… this helps to reduce any chances of sticking… and pull the cutter straight out. You should have a super awesome cookie!

FAQs:

My dough is crumbly!
Keep mixing! This cookie recipe really work. It will pull together, we promise – even if it seems like you’ve been mixing forever! But if you didn’t add your dry ingredients a little at a time, then you’re probably going to have to start over (we told you it was important!!)

My cookie cutter sticks!
Coat the cookie cutter in flour. This helps, especially for highly detailed cutters. When you are cutting the dough, press the cutter in, wiggle it in place a little, and pull it straight out. If you are still having sticking problems, put a little flour on top of your rolled out dough in the place where you’re still having a sticking problem.

We’d love you to share your cookie cutting results with us! Send your pictures to us on Facebook or email them to us at info@janeaustengiftshop.co.uk

 Get the new 3-D Jane Austen cookie cutter.

Happy baking!

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Quizzing Glasses: A History by Candice Hern

Miss Thorpe, however, being four years older than Miss Morland, and at least four years better informed, had a very decided advantage in discussing such points; she could compare the balls of Bath with those of Tunbridge, its fashions with the fashions of London; could rectify the opinions of her new friend in many articles of tasteful attire; could discover a flirtation between any gentleman and lady who only smiled on each other; and point out a quiz through the thickness of a crowd.
Northanger Abbey

Eyeglasses as we know them today, with side pieces that rest on the ears, were invented in 1727 by an Englishman named Edward Scarlett. Until that time, reading aids were often perched precariously upon the nose or were hand held. A “quizzing glass” was a single magnifying lens on a handle which was held up before the eye to enable closer scrutiny of the object in view. The quizzing glass is not to be confused with the lorgnette, which has two lenses, and more often than not a correctable (prescription) lens rather than a simple magnifier. A monocle is also a single-lens device but is meant to fit into the eye socket and therefore does not have the longer handle of the quizzing glass, which was held in front of the eye.

Left: Detail of Les Deux Incroyables, Antoine Charles Horace Vernet, ink and wash, 1794. Right:
The earlist examples of single-lens hand-held reading devices date back to the 12th century and were simple affairs with bone or brass handles used by scholars and clerks. It was not until the mid-18th century that they developed into a fashionable accessory, designed and worn as a piece of jewelery. (See Fig. 1) The quizzing glass generally dangled at the end of a long ribbon or chain around the neck and was held up to the eye to “quiz” (stare, glance, look at quizically) people and objects. The wearer would sometimes glare at a person through his or her quizzing glass as a manner of set-down or mockery, as seen in the detail from Vernet’s “Les Deux Incroyables” shown in Fig. 2.

The term “quizzing glass” came into use toward the end of the 18th century. It is sometimes assumed that quizzing glasses were used only by men as they are most often associated with fashionable dandies of the Regency and Victorian eras, such as “The Exquisite” shown in Fig 2. However, the fashion prints of the Regency show ladies wielding them with as much aplomb as Beau Brummel. And those ladies are not the elderly dowagers one might imagine using such a device, but fashionable young women. In fact, the quizzing glass is such a common feature in fashion prints that it must be assumed that it was an extremely popular accessory. Most prints and portraits of women wearing quizzing glasses show them on a long gold chain around the neck. Men are frequently shown with a quizzing glass on a black ribbon, though gold chains are also used.

A quizzing glass was as much a piece of jewelry as it was a functional vision aid. They were made of gold, sterling, pinchbeck, and other base metals, and were sometimes quite elaborate in design. The handles might be jeweled, or hold secret vinaigrettes or lockets (see Fig 3). The handle or its loop was often swivel-mounted to make it easier to lay flat when hung from a chain. Though the lenses were generally standard sizes, the handles were of varying lengths. (See Fig 4) Of course, the longer the handle, the more delicious the set-down.

Quizzing glasses were almost always set with a magnifying lens, though some may have been set with a corrective lens since fashionable ladies and gentleman did not like to wear spectacles in public. Quizzing glasses were obtained from opticians and were usually kept in protective leather cases. (See fig 5) It is likely that the opticians set the lens in frames provided by goldsmiths or jewelers.

Quizzing glasses reached a peak of popularity during the first two decades of the 19th century. Around the 1830s, lorgnettes became more popular for women. Quizzing glasses continued as a fashionable accessory for gentlemen through the beginning of the 20th century when monocles supplanted them in popularity.


Candice Hern is the author of several Regency Romance novels and an avid collector of period fashion accessories. Her newest book is Lady Be Bad, part of her ‘Merry Widows’ series

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The Journal of Eveline Helm, Part Five – At the Assembly Rooms, at last!

Dear Reader,

I hope that this journal of my time in Bath should prove to be helpful to you. In reading it may you be spared the numerous faux pas and embarrassments that I was not. I truly feel that if this work should prevent even one other young lady from public ridicule in the Assembly Rooms of Bath then it will have been wholly worthwhile. 

Humbly yours, 

Eveline Helm.

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June 1797 

I am incredibly pleased to report that the sedan chair bearers did not drop me on the way to the Assembly Rooms as I had feared they might. As it turned out, I rather enjoyed my short ride; it was a smoother journey than I had thought, and certainly a very grand journey. My Uncle went ahead of us on foot, as gentlemen in Bath are wont to do, and was there to greet us as the doors of my Aunt’s and my own respective boxes were held open for us. I succeeded in stepping out from the small compartment with what I hope was some degree of grace, and found myself in front of the entrance, which consists of a grand pediment held up by four pale stone columns. There was little time to take in the grandeur of the outside, however, as my Aunt linked her arm through mine and guided me inside. Once admitted, we proceeded to tour the Rooms.

The assembly rooms near home, to which I have been to dance before, are nothing compared to the Bath Assembly Rooms.  After we had deposited our cloaks in the cloakroom to the right on leaving the entrance vestibule, we turned and entered the ball room through the opposite doors on the left. The room was vast; it was at least one hundred feet in length and forty wide, and its ceiling was of triple height. Halfway up the duck-egg wall was a series of tall windows, flanked on either side by a painted Roman column set into the wall which were letting in the last light of the day. Around the room, below and above these windows, were intricate moulded plasterwork borders. And, in the centre of the room, there hung five great chandeliers which, as my Aunt whispered in my ear (though loudly enough to be heard above the noise) each held forty candles! Just think! What with this and the windows, the room was all light and beauty. Thankfully the four grand fireplaces, two set into each of the longer walls, which would also have raised the light levels in the room, were empty, but even so, given the sheer number of people in residence and coupled with the balmy June night, the heat in the room was a very great one indeed.

The number of people I have just mentioned fell into two categories; those seated on and standing by the three tiers of seats placed around the edge of the ballroom, and those who were up and dancing a country dance which I did not immediately recognize, but which might have been Lady Moncrieff’s Reel. The minuets had taken place already, beginning at six, and had then given way to the country dances at eight. Later the music would stop so that the tea, coffee and light refreshments might be served at nine in the large tea room on the other side of the Assembly Rooms. After that, the country dances would resume. By nine o’clock I was certain that the dancers who had arrived at six would be most glad of some refreshment, however light, not to mention the musicians who had been playing all evening.

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But then I must mention the musicians! In the balls which I have attended before (the larger ones are those I am referring to rather than the dances among friends which are struck up in the joy of the moment after a dinner) only four musicians have been engaged, as is the custom, and they have played the usual piano, cornet, violin, and violoncello. However, the number of dancers in attendance here is of such a great number; my aunt tells me that there are upwards of five hundred people here on a regular basis, and that there are a dozen musicians playing from the minstrel’s gallery.

“I do not envy them their role,” said my Aunt, turning to me as we watched the couples dance. “Not only do they play here but they are also employed each morning in playing at the Pump Rooms, and then in the evenings they take their turn playing here or at private concerts. Even their afternoons are not their own, for they might then be occupied in playing for a private party at a gentleman’s lodgings, or at one of the large inns. Imagine! I am sure I do not know how they do it!”

“Surely, there are other bands in Bath who might take some of their custom from them and therefore allow them a respite from constant playing?” I said.

“None such as they. They were fully employed to act exclusively as the Bath Orchestra. For that reason, despite their heavy workload, they are not so badly done by; at least they can live safe in the knowledge that they shall be paid and able to pay their rent.”

“I suppose you are right,” I said, and let my attention stray once more to the dancers.

It was as in London, and as my Aunt had said, that the most fashionable dress material was white muslin, and derivations thereof. Lady upon lady clad in white, cream, and ivory whirled about the room, escorted by gentleman in fine silk waistcoats and jet-black tailcoats. White was not the only colour worn by the ladies (there was one peacock blue dress in particular that I had trouble drawing my eyes away from), but it was by far the most popular.

As for the gentlemen, some of the gentlemen I saw had adopted another of the London fashions and sported finely starched cravats that were tied in such complicated styles which travelled so far up their necks that I was surprised that they were able to move their heads. Beau Brummel may be considered the arbiter of men’s fashion, but in my most-humble opinion I do think that he might also be the arbiter of much of their discomfort.

My Aunt and I left the ballroom, vowing to return by and by once we had seen the remainder of the Rooms. Not that they were a revelation to my Aunt, but she is such a kind and considerate woman that she said she could not dream of settling herself until I had been acquainted with the Rooms in their entirety.

The next chamber we entered upon leaving the ballroom was the octagonal card room. Decorated in a deep rich yellow, its centre was taken up with table upon table of gentlemen and ladies, but mainly gentlemen, all playing various card games. I spotted Speculation, Brag and Whist among the games in progress, and also after a short time I spotted my Uncle, happily ensconced at a table in the far right, next to another unlit fireplace (the card room, like the ball room, also had four). He was laughing and talking with many other fine gentlemen, for, prejudiced as I am, there really is no other way to describe my Uncle, whom I did not first recognise.

“I knew we should find him here,” my Aunt said to me with a fond smile in her voice. “It never takes him long to find himself a table. I fear we may have now lost him for the evening. Now my dear, where should you like to see next? I am afraid that we cannot enter the tea room at present, but we might peruse the octagon ante-chamber if you should wish?”

“Is there much to see in the ante-chamber?”

“As much as you might see in any other ante-chamber.”

“In which case,” I said. “If you don’t mind, I should very much like to go and watch some more of the dancing.”

“But of course.”

We wove our way back through the know of people surrounding the card room doors and into the ball room. The reel was still in progress so my Aunt and I scanned the tiers of seats and spotted two seats together in the second row; the front row being already full near to where we were, and navigating to another part of the room while the dance was in motion was not a wise idea. However, before we had moved more than two steps towards our intended destination, we found our way barred by Mr Dawson, the Master of Ceremonies.

“Mrs Denison, Miss Helm, allow me to introduce Mr Thomas Palmer…”

webJenni Waugh Headshot The journal of Eveline Helm’s time in Bath has made its way online thanks to Jenni Waugh, one of our tour guides at the Jane Austen Centre.

She writes: “I couldn’t resist sharing Eveline’s exploits. I hope everyone else finds them as interesting and entertaining as I did!”

 

 

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Jane Austen Adaptations: Behind the Scenes

When the final credits roll on an Austen film, whether you’ve loved it or not, it’s often fun to find out more. What were relationships like on and off the set? Where did they film these great houses? Who designed the costumes? Was the final product true to the script? Were there any extra scenes that were cut?

Fortunately for us, many of the movies do have additional information available.

Pride and Prejudice (1995) boasts a “Making Of” feature on the newest DVD version and the book The Making of Pride and Prejudice by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin answers just about any question interested fans might have.

Sense and Sensibility won Emma Thompson an Oscar for best screenplay when it was released in 1995. During the filming of the movie, Thompson kept a detailed diary of life on and off the set. Both the script and the diary are available in individual and combined formats.

Also produced in 1995, Persuasion’s script by Nick Dear was printed in book format and is occasionally available from used book sellers. That year’s other Austen offering, Clueless, is an updated version of Emma, set in California. The special edition DVD boasts cast interviews and “making of” information.

Scripts were also published of both Douglas McGrath’s 1996 script for the Gwyneth Patrow version of Emma , and for Andrew Davies’s version for TV. That script, along with cast and behind the scenes information was published as The Making of Jane Austen’s Emma by Sue Birtwistle and Susie Conklin. Though out of print, it can occasionally be found in used book stores and on Ebay.

newtvloclgjpgv1417010708.jpegThe 1999 big screen version of Mansfield Park, written and directed by Patricia Rozema, garnered as much negative as positive publicity. Supposedly based on Austen’s early writings and diaries as well as the source novel, it has certainly provoked ample discussion. A script was issued for this production also, and should still be obtainable.

Lastly, if you feel like visiting some of the locations from these various productions, the TV and Film Locations Guide is your essential handbook!

The Making of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s TV and Film Locations Guide and a variety of DVDs and soundtracks are currently available from the Jane Austen Giftshop.

Laura Boyle is a collector of Jane Austen films and film memorabilia. She also runs Austentation, a company that specializes in custom made Regency Accessories.

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The Mirror of Graces: the Final Blush of Accomplishment

A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word [accomplished]; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.”
Pride and Prejudice

When so much has been said of the body and its accoutrements, I cannot but subjoin a few words on the intelligence which animates the frame, and of the organ which imparts its meaning.

Connected speech is granted to mankind alone. Parrots may prate and monkeys chatter, but it is only to the reasonable being that power of combining ideas, expressing their import, and uttering, in audible sounds, all its various gradations, the language of sense and judgment, of love and resentment is awarded as a gift, that gives us a proud and undeniable superiority above all the rest of the creation.

To employ this faculty well and gracefully, is one grand object of education. The mere organ itself, as to sound, is like a musical instrument, to be modulated with elegance, or struck with the disorderly nerve of coarsene vulgarity.


I must add to what has been said before, the subject, that excessive rapidity of speaking is, in general, even with a clear enunciation, very disagreeable; but, when it is accompanied with a shrill voice, high in alt, the effect is then inexpressibly discordant and hideous. The first orator the heathen world knew, so far remedied the natural defects of his speech, (and they were the most embarrassing) as to become the most easy and persuasive of speakers. In like manner, when a young woman finds any difficulty or inelegance in her organs, she ought to pay the strictest attention to rectify the fault.

Should she have too quick or encumbered an articulation, she ought to read with extreme slowness, for several hours in the day, and even pay attention in speaking to check the rapidity or confusion of her utterance. By similar antidotal means, she must attack a propensity of talking in a high key. Better err in the opposite extreme, while she is prosecuting her cure, as the voice will gradually and imperceptibly attain its most harmonious pitch; than, by at first attempting the medium, most likely retain too much of the screaming key.

A clear articulation, a tempered intonation, and in a moderate key, are essentials in the voice of an accomplished female. For her graceful peculiarities, those nature and rare taste must bestow. Fine judgment and delicate sensibility are the best schoolmistresses on this subject. Indeed, where is it that, in relation to man or woman, we shall find, that an improved understanding, an enlightened mind, and a refined taste, are not the best polishers of manners, and in all aspects the most efficient handmaids of the Muses?

Let me then, in one short sentence, in one tender adieu, my fair readers and endeared friends! enforce upon your minds, that if Beauty be woman’s weapon, it must be feathered by the Graces, pointed by the eye of Discretion, and shot by the hand of Virtue!

Look then, my sweet pupils, not merely to your mirrors, when you would decorate yourselves for conquest, but consult the specluum, which will reflect your hearts and minds. Remember that it is the affections of a sensible and reasonable soul you hope to subdue, and seek for arms likely to carry the fortress.

He that is worthy, must love answering excellence. Which of you all would wish to marry a man merely for the colour of his eye, or the shape of his leg? Think not then worse of him than you would do of yourselves; and, hope not to satisfy his better wishes with the possession of a merely handsome wife.

Beauty of person will ever be found a dead letter, unless it be animated with beauty of mind. We must then, not only cultivate the shape, the complexion, the air, the attire, the manners; but most assiduously must our attention be devoted to teach “the young idea how
to shoot,” and to fashion the unfolding mind to judgment and virtue. By such culture, it will not be merely the charming girl, the captivating woman “We shall present to the world; but, the dutiful daughter, affectionate sister, tender wife, judicious mother, faithful friend, and amiable acquaintance.

Let these then be the fair images which will form themselves on the models drawn by my not inexperienced pen! Let me see Beauty, whose soul is Virtue, approach me with the chastened step of Modesty; and, ere she advances from behind the heavenly cloud that envelops her, I shall behold Love and all the Graces hovering in air to adorn and attend her charms!

This may be thy picture, lovely daughter of Albion! Make thyself then worthy of the likeness, and thou wilt fulfil the fondest wish of thine unknown friend.

From The Mirror of Graces, by a Lady of Distinction, 1811.

 

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Film Review: Pride and Prejudice (2005) by Sheryl Craig

Is Pride and Prejudice primarily a Cinderella story? How you answer that question may well determine whether you enjoy or detest the 2005 Keira Knightley/Matthew Macfadyen film.

When spending quality time with Jane Austen’s novel, gentle reader, do you imagine paint peeling from the Bennet family home or picture Longbourn’s back garden as a filthy barnyard? Does Mr. Bennet potter about the house unwashed, unshorn and unshaven? Does his beloved library resemble the leftovers of a jumble sale? One might assume that the Bennets could do better with an estate that is lawfully their own and two thousand a year. However, this appears to be Director Joe Wright’s interpretation of the novel as “social realist drama.” Dear me! And what would Jane Austen make of that?

The poverty, grime and crumbling gentility adds what Wright refers to as “a bit more street,” if this is considered desirable. But what is “street” about Mr. Darcy trudging through a foggy field, white shirt front agape, looking for all the world like Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights? Or was it an attempt to offer up Matthew Macfadyen as a wet shirted substitute for Colin Firth? Other choices seem to defy any analysis. Why turn Mr. Bingley (Simon Woods) into a giggling idiot, someone not safe to be let out unattended? Why would Darcy befriend such a man, and what could possibly induce Jane Bennet (Rosamund Pike) to shackle herself to him for life? Charlotte Lucas (Claudie Blakley) appears fortunate by comparison. Charlotte’s fear of poverty and her resulting acceptance of Mr. Wrong is well done, if a bit overly dramatic, but the film’s actors are not to be blamed for its faults. Indeed, the casting seems nearly flawless.

Knightley delivers a credible performance as a spirited Elizabeth, and Macfadyen need not be ashamed of his Darcy. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet (Donald Sutherland & Brenda Blethyn) are given sympathetic makeovers. A kinder, gentler Mr. Bennet proves to be a compassionate father and an amorous husband not entirely indifferent to his frowzy, careworn wife, and Mrs. Bennet’s poor nerves actually merit some compassion.

Mr. Collins (Tom Hollander) is not given enough screen time for one of the greatest comic characters ever created. Lady Catherine fares a bit better, perhaps common decency demanded it, as the role is absolutely perfect for Dame Judi Dench, but when Lady Catherine descends on Longbourn with a vengeance, her tirade is over all too soon, and this scene illustrates one of the film’s glaring weaknesses. The pace is much too rapid. Characters burst onto the screen, hurry through their lines and rush off with alarming rapidity. One fears that a great deal of talent was laid waste in the cutting room.

The rousing dance scene was enjoyable, but awkward attempts to add sexuality were annoying. The novel’s witty repartee and the chemistry between Knightley and Macfayden already suggest enough, thank you. In a film so obviously at war with its time constraints, Elizabeth’s fascination with a collection of nude statues at Pemberley wasted valuable minutes and added nothing, though a group of twelve year old boys might disagree. But was this the imagined audience? And one wonders why it was deemed necessary for the camera to linger on a pig. A pig? You well may ask.

Comparisons to the 1995 Jennifer Ehle/Colin Firth television adaptation are inevitable. Granted, the six hour BBC time frame opened up a great many opportunities to unfold the story and to develop the characters in keeping with the “light, bright and sparkling” authorial intent. When it was first announced that there would be a new, Hollywood film of Pride and Prejudice, your humble servant was immediately skeptical. To quote Mr. Bennet in the novel, “what is there of good to be expected?” My own prejudices firmly in place, I never-the-less entered the cinema agog with curiosity, and, to give myself credit, I thoroughly enjoyed the 2004 Bollywood Bride and Prejudice, so I was not entirely without hope.

Pride and Prejudice played to a full house, and some members of the audience appeared to enjoy the film. Others, like myself, found it a bit of a disappointment, yet I may well go to see it a second time and will probably purchase the DVD in the fullness of time. I do such things; God help me. I can only conclude that the viewer must ultimately judge for him or herself, so this review will end with some words of wisdom from Mr. Bennet: “Perhaps you would like to [see] it. I dislike it very much. but it must be done.”

Sheryl Craig is an Instructor of English at Central Missouri State University. She is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Kansas.

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Jane Austen Online Biography

Jane austen biography

If you’ve ever longed for more information about Jane Austen’s life but haven’t time to visit the library, you are in luck! Many full length biographies of Austen’s life are available to read or download online with little or no cost. Reviews of these works can be found on JASA’s website.
A Memoir of Jane Austen by Her Nephew


The first Jane Austen Biography by James Edward Austen-Leigh (1798-1874, son of James Austen, Jane’s oldest brother) was written in 1870. Austen-Leigh had the benefit of not only knowing his famous Aunt, but also being privy to family memories and stories. Jane’s brother Henry had written a brief biographical forward in Persuasion and Northanger Abbey, but this was the first complete book dedicated to her life. Though not completely unbiased, this work provides much of what we know of Jane’s life, including the infamous “squeaking door” vignette. La Brocca offers it here, for free download or online perusal.
Jane Austen: Her Homes and Her Friends

This biography by Constance Hill was first published in 1901. It’s 23 chapters are available to read online free of charge, courtesy of “In Celebration of Women Writers”, hosted by The University of Pennsylvania.
Jane Austen and her Times

First Published in 1905, this is one of the early biographies of Jane Austen. Many of the Austen biographies available online were written by women and this work, by Geraldine Edith Mitton is no exception. Cathy Dean has provided the complete text (19 chapters and two appendix pages) along with the original 21 illustrations on her Jane Austen E-texts page.

Jane Austen

Another complete biography of Jane Austen, available from Jane Austen E-Texts. This work, by “To Jane Austen” author W. O. Firkins was published in 1920 and is made up of three principle parts: Part I–The Novelist, Part II–The Realist, Part III–The Woman.

The Jane Austen Information Page: Jane Info

The ultimate Jane Austen Website, the Jane Austen Information Page, a part of the Republic of Pemberly and pet project of Henry Churchyard, this site contains a magnificent overview of Austen’s life, complete with known family portraits, family trees, location photos and more.

Jane Austen


An in-depth biography of Jane Austen by Elizabeth Jenkins, published in 1949, is available online from Questia. Its 22 chapters can be previewed in part for free and read in whole with the purchase of a membership. Membership also allows access to other Austenesque works on their site such as Jane Austen’s Letters
by Jane Austen, edited by Deirdre Le Faye, Jane Austen: Her Life, Her Work, Her Family, and Her Critics, by R. Brimley Johnson, Jane Austen: Facts and Problems by R. W. Chapman, Jane Austen and Her Art by Mary Lascelles and many othe works. You can listen to a free sample of Jenkin’s book and the opportunity to download it in full, visit Audible.com.

The Jane Austen Biography

Ebookmall is offering not only a Jane Austen biography downloadable in many different formats, but also a plethora of other Austen works. A small fee applies to each purchase.
Biographical Excerpts

The New York Times and the Washington Post offer free chapters and reviews of both Jane Austen: A Life by David Nokes and Jane Austen: A Biography by Claire Tomalin. You can preview the books here by signing in for a complimentary account.
Listen, Download, Preview, Purchase


You can always find numerous Jane Austen related books on Amazon. Many of these books allow you to preview their chapters online and some, like Carol Shield’s Jane Austen, are available to purchase in audio format. This Pulitzer Prize winning biography, part of the Penguin Lives series, is small, but quite effective, touching on the known facts of Austen’s life without reading too much into her works.

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The Regency Fashions of Childhood

the fashions of childhood

The Regency Fashions of Childhood

While children are not usually thought of in the world of high fashion, with his debut of The Repository of Fashion… in 1809, Rudolph Ackerman provided modern readers with a record of what was worn by even the smallest of the Ton during the 20 years his magazine was published.

As fashion evolved during the Regency, and figure hugging corsets gave way to loose, diaphanous gowns, so too, the fashions of childhood became simpler and while they still mimicked the clothes of their elders, a new style of short dresses and easy to wear pants and jackets came into vogue with overtones that can be seen even in today’s children’s wear.

What Ackermann did, in showing his “models” engaged in many different types of activities with their children, was prove motherhood to be fashionable- or at least something not to be hidden away and relegated to the attic nurseries of country estates. In doing so, he also left a legacy of the fashions of childhood unequalled by any other period source.

Aside from fashion plates and art prints, the only other visual reference to the time that we have are portraits from the period. These, too clearly show relation between the changing attitudes in parenting and clothing styles over Jane Austen’s lifetime. Even a cursory glance at those below will prove the point.

The first, by Joshua Reynolds, shows Margaret, Lady Spencer and her daughter Georgiana (later to be the famous Duchess of Devonshire) in 1759, a few years before Jane Austen’s birth in 1775. You can see the young girl is dressed almost as a miniature adult and, small as she is (about 2), stands stock still.

In 1787, Reynolds would paint the Marsham children. Jane Austen would have been 11 or 12 at the time– about the same age as the oldest girl in the picture. Here the children are given at least some childlike pastimes to entertain them while being painted and their clothes show the shift in fashion that came with the French Revolution. Though still mimicking the adults, their styles are much more comfortable and easy to wear.

A few years later, in 1794, Thomas Lawrence painted the famous Pinkie portrait. Here, a young girl stands with her back to the sea. The setting is out of doors, like the former, but much more casual in style, as both parenting and fashion had become. Her gown reflects the new “Regency Style” similar to the one seen in The Rice Portrait, which some believe to be Jane Austen, painted in 1790.

A portrait of The Fluyder Children painted in 1805 and a later one of Mrs. Henry Baring and her Children (1817) shows the complete turnover from stiff and formal attire, parenting and painting styles, to loose, playful and involved.


Many thanks to Heather Laurence for supplying high resolution scans of fashion plates, especially the fashions of childhood, in her collection. See more of her work and collection on her site, Solitary Elegance.