Posted on

Maxims for Health and Gracefulness

Cassandra Austen’s sketch of her niece Fanny.

In 1833, Lydia Marie Child published The Girl’s Own Book, a volume full of entertainments for girls of all ages.

She closed her book with a few maxims on child rearing involving both the moral and physical aspects of raising young ladies. Although they may sound quaint and dated, mothers of the Regency. Child rearing has always been considered a woman’s domain, and mothers of this era, with its burgeoning middle class, read countless books on subjects ranging from household management to cookery. Topics their mothers were either too busy or too idle to concern themselves with.

Any number of spoiled children can be found in the pages of Jane Austen’s works, from the heir to Norland Park, to Mrs. Musgrove’s rambunctious grandchildren. We never get to see the children of Austen’s heroines, but they would, no doubt, have been raised in this new era of motherly awareness.

Early rising, and the habit of washing frequently, in cold water, are fine things for the health and the complexion.Walking, and other out-of-door exercises, cannot I much recommended to young people. Even skating, driving hoop, and other boyish sports, may be practised to advantage by little girls, provided they can be pursued within the inclosure of a garden, or court ; in the street, they would of course, be highly improper. It is true, such games are rather violent, and sometimes noisy ; but they tend to form a vigorous constitution ; and girls who are habitually lady-like, will never allow themselves to be rude and vulgar, even in play.

Shoes and garments for children should be quite large enough for ease, comfort, and freedom of motion. Continue reading Maxims for Health and Gracefulness

Posted on

The Regency Red Cloak

My cloak is come home. I like it very much, and can now exclaim with delight, like J. Bond at hay-harvest, “This is what I have been looking for these three years.
-Jane Austen to Cassandra
June 2, 1799

For many years, the Regency Red Cloak was the staple of winter warmth in both England and the Americas. According to Jessamyn Brown, they were “common wear for several decades. Well-established garb by the onset of the Regency, they lasted into the 1830s, although they were out of style by then.” One researcher has pointed out that they were worn mainly in the country, (though the following fashion plate from the latter Regency shows a dressy “Town” version) and most often with Morning Dress, for walking, shopping, etc. Plush trim was also occasionally added, for a bit of dash.


Perhaps the most famous illustrator of the red walking cloak is Diana Sperling, who often captured scenes of young ladies out walking in her sketchbook, Mrs. Hurst Dancing. For some reason, the red cloak also became a symbol of the wandering gypsies (one wonders if they were worn by the Gypsy woman that accosted Harriet Smith, in Emma) and who could forget the role they played during the famous Battle of Fishguard, when the women of the town, dressed in their scarlet cloaks and tall Welsh hats were mistaken by the French for British Regulars!
Continue reading The Regency Red Cloak