What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
This week at the Jane Austen News we had great fun reading Bustle‘s piece on underwear in the time of Jane Austen. At the Jane Austen Centre our guides are often asked what the underwear of the era was like, so it was nice to see that we got a mention in Bustle‘s article too.
In brief (sorry, the pun was too good) Melissa Ragsdale explained why, although the screen adaptations may look terribly genteel and elegant, in real life Regency England it wasn’t all tea and cake and comfort.
If you like feel like a lot of women and long to get home at the end of the day and ditch your bra and relax in a nice pair of comfy PJs, well, it would have been much worse back in Jane’s time…
Unlike Victorian corsets which hooked in the front and laced up the back, older corsets only laced up the back in a zigzag fashion using one string—cross lacing would be invented later on—and stiffened in the front with a carved wooden or bone busk which created a straight posture and separated the bosoms for the “heaving” effect, so popular at the time.
Although if you like going commando, you’d have been in luck…
According to the Jane Austen Centre in Bath, ‘drawers’ (which were like loose shorts, and often crotchless) were invented in 1806, but it wasn’t common for adult women to wear them until after 1820. Drawers went on to merge into ‘knickers’ and ‘combinations’ during the Victorian era, and modern “panties” didn’t exist until the 1920s.
To see what else Melissa found out about Lizzy Bennet’s underwear drawer you can read the full article here.
For anyone who thinks Jane Austen’s stories are no longer relevant to real life, The Jane Austen Society of Pakistan is out to explain why her words still ring true for them.
Laaleen Sukera, a journalist and the founder of JASP, has been speaking to The Economist in an article published this week, and explaining why Jane Austen is so popular in Pakistan, one of the main reasons being because the etiquette and customs of the Regency are still alive and well in society. A couple of examples:
- Weddings are the equivalent of the Bath Assembly Rooms – it’s where people go to search for suitable partners.
- There is still a ‘season’ – three months crammed with parties, weddings and balls where girls put on their best jewels and finery and check out the most eligible suitors on offer.
- Inheritance laws still heavily favour male heirs.
- Marrying your daughters to rich men, from good backgrounds, who can take good care of them, is still the main focus of many families.
Austen resonates with us because Regency England is so much like today’s Pakistan. I know her books are 200 years old and set in small English county towns and villages but, really, her themes, her characters, her situations, her plots, they could have been written for us now.
At the Jane Austen News we found it fascinating to read all about the parallels between Regency England and Pakistan, and on Austen’s popularity there. The full article (well worth a read!) can be found here.
If shoot-em-up adventures or burning-rubber car chases aren’t your kind of thing, but at the same time you’re not completely averse to the whole idea of playing video games, then the latest reviews of a new virtual roleplaying game called Ever, Jane might well be of interest to you.