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Regency Bucks, Beaus and Dandies

Beaus and Dandies

Bucks, Beaus and Dandies

Though not specifically mentioned by Jane Austen, it does not take much reading up on the Regency to come across descriptive terms for generalizing a young man’s London habits. Bucks, Beaus and Dandies (and Corinthians) make their appearance throughout fiction set in this era. It can be hard to decipher just which character qualities are inherent to which, now obscure, terms such as Beaus and Dandies. The following definitions, excerpted from Jennifer Kloester’s 2005 book, Georgette Heyer’s Regency World, give a more complete picture. Heyer, herself, was known for her meticulous research and knowledge of the era and is considered one of the foremost experts in the field. This book is based on her own catalog of facts and historical insights.

Northanger Abbey's John Thorpe is an ideal Regency Buck.
Northanger Abbey’s John Thorpe is an “ideal” Regency Buck.

Continue reading Regency Bucks, Beaus and Dandies

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An Assembly Such as This

Book One of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman
by Pamela Aidan

This book is the first of a trilogy that promises to take the reader through the events of Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s point of view, the first volume ending as Mr. Bingley and his party go to London after the Netherfield ball. The story, previously published on the Internet, has been immensely popular amongst readers of Jane Austen fan fiction, and it is easy to see why. Ms. Aidan has clearly put a great deal of thought into Darcy’s motivations, and provides an interesting glimpse into the inner workings of his mind. Ms. Aidan has a feel for language, and the prose is dense and meaty; in spots perhaps too much so; the going is a little slow at times, as the reader finds herself flipping ahead a few pages, wishing that Darcy would stop the navel-gazing and do something already.

Darcy and Elizabeth, thankfully, are quite recognizable from the originals, though even in the midst of their pride and their prejudices they have a troubling tendency towards something too close to perfection at such an early stage in their journey. We like our Darcy much snootier, at least at first; remember, it is Elizabeth’s set-down after the Rosings proposal that makes him see the error of his ways. Until then, he still should be very much Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s nephew. It is a strain to imagine Ms. Aidan’s kinder, gentler Darcy delivering that arrogant marriage proposal. The plot, other than the events directly described in Pride and Prejudice, sometimes strays over the line into melodrama, but Ms. Aidan pulls in the reins quickly enough, and it is a relief to finally read a Jane Austen pastiche by an author who remembers that Jane Austen’s books are funny. Several likeable new characters are introduced to the mix as well.

Ms. Aidan has done copious research into Regency-era history, and reminds the reader of it at every opportunity. Unfortunately, she lacks Georgette Heyer’s light touch with history, and one tends to feel a bit bludgeoned by the parade of dazzling Regency personages and events that pass under Darcy’s purview. At the risk of sounding a trifle Miss Bingleyish, the guiding hand of a good editor would have sharpened the book into true excellence, from both the standpoint of plot and of grammar and punctuation. It’s a shame to read an otherwise well-written passage ruined by a very basic mistake in standard written English, a weakness we have noticed more often than not in self-published Jane Austen pastiches. If there were only a typo or two, we would forgive the errors readily, but finding them on page after page throughout the novel is off-putting and distracting and makes reviewers exceedingly cranky. One also wonders why the author felt compelled to separate the work into three volumes, as the first volume is quite slim. We would rather have waited for a complete work, preferably after it has suffered the ministrations of a competent copy editor.

All that being said, it is our experience that Janeites who enjoy pastiches tend to be an uncritical lot when it comes to dodgy editing (with the obvious exception of your humble servant), and the reception of Assembly thus far has been accordingly rapturous. Darcy fans will adore this book. You will have to search far and wide for a better look at Fitzwilliam Darcy’s inner life and the social forces that shaped him.

Price: $13.95/£8.28
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Wytherngate Press; (August 2003)
ISBN: 0972852905

Published in the UK by Lightning Source Uk LTD, ISBN: 0972852905.

Margaret C. Sullivan is the webmistress of Tilneys and Trap-doors. She finds that she is too much like Mr. Darcy to truly appreciate his many perfections, and thus leaves that appreciation to others while she devotes herself to the rector of Woodston parish.

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Cravats, Tail Coats and Breeches

Regency Dress for Gentlemen

Towards the end of the 18th Century the tail coat appeared: a style based on the English riding coat. This was made of good wool cloth and gradually became the fashionable garment for men in Europe and America.

Tail Coat The tail coat on display at the Centre is made from 100% English wool doeskin, and is fashioned after a style current about 1810. Notice how few seams there are – just one on each side of the centre back seam. A waist seam to give a better fit to the body was first seen about 1820 and the underarm seam appeared between 1820 and 1830. The tails of the coat at this time finished just above the knee and if you look carefully, you will find that each tail has a pocket concealed in its central seam.

The tailcoat was usually only partially lined and that lining was the same fabric as the body of the garment. The cloth was so tightly woven and heavily milled that most of the edges of the garment were left raw and finished with a row of hand stitching all the way around. Here it is possible to see this detail on close examination. This practice survives in top-quality tailoring with the “hand pricked” finish only on the lapels.

The waistcoat shown here is in a fancy fabric suitable for an evening occasion: for day wear, the fabric would be plainer and of a sober colour – cream, buff, or grey. Only the fronts are in the fancy fabric, the back being made of a plain cotton cloth; a gentleman never removed his coat in company so it would not be seen. The stand collar was very popular for both day and evening. The back is adjusted by means of lacing rather than a buckle.

Tail Coat Breeches were very popular and did not completely fall out of fashion for day wear until about 1825, thereafter still being required for court dress, riding and country wear. The waist is high and the braces were worn to support them. They were often embroidered by the females in the family. The rear of the breeches is quite full to ensure comfort in the saddle, and the waist is adjusted by lacing. The fabric from which the display breeches are made is 100% cotton moleskin.

Following the example of Beau Brummell, a gentleman and his valet would spend a great deal of time and effort in the morning, in search of the perfect arrangement for the cravat- discarding several along the way. Most shirts and cravats were made at home, again, by female relatives. In a letter of January 1799, Jane wrote to Cassandra, “When you come you will have some shirts to make up for Charles [brother]; Mrs. Davies frightened him into buying a piece of Irish [linen] when we were in Basingstoke.” The next year she wrote, “I have heard from Charles, & am to send his shirts by half dozens as they are finished. One set will go next week.”

Costume researched, designed and constructed by Yvonne Roe, Gloucester. Special to the Jane Austen Centre, Bath.

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