Posted on

Captain Wentworth’s trip to Portsmouth is a Victory

Captain Wentworth aboard ship

From Captain Wentworth’s Travel Journal:

Visiting Victory is ‘one off the bucket list’

So Admiral Horatio Nelson has been something of a hero of mine for… well, for as long as I can remember. My hero worship started (believe it or not) with Star Trek’s very own Captain James Tiberius Kirk. When William Shatner accepted the role he had trouble getting into the head of the starship captain whose ship and crew were more important to him than his own life. He asked the shows creator Gene Roddenberry for help in finding the character’s motivation and Roddenberry suggested he read the Hornblower novels by C.S. Forester.

Everything you need to understand Kirk resides with Hornblower – his courage, his self doubt, his sense of duty. From there it was a short hop to the wonderful Patrick O’Brien novels and more recently the phenomenal work of Julian Stockwin and Dudley Pope. From there further still, the real life stories of the men and women who served as inspiration to these novelists – Lord Cochrane, Edward Pellew, and of course Admiral Nelson.

It is because of my naval history obsession that I was able to turn up for work on my first day at the Jane Austen Centre with my own historically accurate costume. An Admiral’s dress coat and white ‘smallclothes’, breeches, stockings, waistcoat appropriate to a Napoleonic officer. I was most fortunate to be ‘offered the part’ of Captain Frederick Wentworth. I put the badge on for the first time and suddenly with immediate effect felt a pressure to live up to peoples pre-existing expectations of the character. Wentworth is one of literature’s greatest naval characters. He can hold his head high with the likes of Hornblower, Jack Aubrey, Ramage, Kidd etc.

I do my very best on a daily basis to embody all that Wentworth stands for. Honourable, courageous, purposeful, loyal, dutiful. Now comes the small confession… I am (slightly) older than Captain Wentworth. In fact I recently celebrated an important, let’s just say… round numbered birthday. To that end, my fiancée surprised me with an arranged trip to Portsmouth to visit HMS Victory.

Wentworth with his ‘Anne Elliot’

So it was that on my birthday I found myself on board this amazing 104 gun first rate ship of the line, launched in 1765, the oldest commissioned warship in the world, and Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

I simply couldn’t resist visiting without looking the part so I toured the ship in my naval attire. The naval enthusiasts will probably notice from the photos that my coat (rather than my usual Captain’s frock coat) is an exacting replica of the rear Admiral coat worn by Nelson at the Battle of the Nile.

It was a strange experience walking the decks just as Captain Hardy and Nelson would’ve done 200+ years earlier. In fact an odd symbiotic fusion of man and ship took hold from the moment I stepped aboard. I was able to get a sense of the overwhelming responsibility the captains of these ships must have felt as they ‘did their duty’ for what would then have been king and country.

It was a truly fantastic experience. I enjoyed every second of it and I think it shows in the photographs.

Boarding HMS Victory for a birthday treat


Wentworth on the quarterdeck


Pacing the upper gundeck


Making sure the 32-pounders are aimed straight


Here is Captain Wentworth concerned that his battle plan won’t work without a few other captains around the table for support.


Looking over some battle plans in Captain Hardy’s quarters


Now where did I anchor that ship again?
Posted on

Fitzwilliam Darcy and the Godolphin Arabian

Sea Biscuit, Man o’ War, War Admiral…these are the names of some of the most famous race horses of all time and while there may be six degrees of separation for everything and everyone, at first glance, there may not seem to be much connection between them to Jane Austen.

My daughter (along with at least half of the seven year old girl population) is currently fascinated by horses and I recently picked up Marguerite Henry’s King of the Wind for her to read. The story is a fictionalized account of the Godolphin Arabian. I had not realized that it was a true story when I first began to peruse it, but I quickly became engrossed in the story, which reads like any fairy tale (and, of course, has a happy ending!)

The Godolphin Arabian, painted by George Stubbs, some time before 1806.
The Godolphin Arabian, painted by George Stubbs, some time before 1806.

According to Wikipedia, “the Godolphin Arabian (c. 1724 – 1753), was an Arabian horse who was one of three stallions that were the founders of the modern Thoroughbred horse racing bloodstock (the other two are the Darley Arabian and the Byerley Turk). He was given his name for his best-known owner, Francis Godolphin, 2nd Earl of Godolphin.

The Godolphin Arabian was foaled about 1724 in Yemen, but moved several times before reaching England. At some time in his early years, he was exported, probably via Syria, to the stud of the Bey of Tunis. From there he was given to Louis XV of France in 1730. It is believed he was a present from monarch to monarch. Even so, he was not valued by his new French owner, and it is believed he was used as a carthorse.

Continue reading Fitzwilliam Darcy and the Godolphin Arabian

Posted on

The Cobb: Lyme Regis

 There was too much wind to make the high part of the new Cobb pleasant for the ladies, and they agreed to get down the steps to the lower, and all were contented to pass quietly and carefully down the steep flight, excepting Louisa; she must be jumped down them by Captain Wentworth. In all their walks, he had had to jump her from the stiles; the sensation was delightful to her. The hardness of the pavement for her feet, made him less willing upon the present occasion; he did it, however. She was safely down, and instantly, to show her enjoyment, ran up the steps to be jumped down again. He advised her against it, thought the jar too great; but no, he reasoned and talked in vain, she smiled and said, “I am determined I will:” he put out his hands; she was too precipitate by half a second, she fell on the pavement on the Lower Cobb, and was taken up lifeless!
Persuasion, Chapter 12

lyme regis

Lyme Regis  is a coastal town in West Dorset, England, situated 25 miles west of Dorchester and 25 miles (40 km) east of Exeter. The town lies in Lyme Bay, on the English Channel coast at the Dorset–Devon border. It is nicknamed “The Pearl of Dorset.” The town is noted for the fossils found in the cliffs and beaches, which are part of the Heritage Coast—known commercially as the Jurassic Coast—a World Heritage Site.

Jane Austen visited Lyme Regis three times in 1803 and 1804, staying for several weeks in the summer of 1804. The dramatic events in Persuasion led to a flow of fans to the town: the poet Tennyson is said to have gone straight to the Cobb on his arrival, saying, “Show me the exact spot where Louisa Musgrove fell!”

lyme regis
The steps called “Granny’s Teeth”…steep indeed, and the most plausible spot for Lousia’s fall.

The first written mention of the Cobb (the harbour wall) is in a 1328 document describing it as having been damaged by storms. The structure was made of oak piles driven into the seabed with boulders stacked between them. The boulders were floated into place tied between empty barrels.

lyme regis
Photo of the Cobb by by Jim Linwood

The Cobb was of economic importance to the town and surrounding area, allowing it to develop as both a major port and a shipbuilding centre from the 13th century onwards. Shipbuilding was particularly significant between 1780 and 1850 with around 100 ships launched including a 12-gun Royal Navy brig called HMS Snap. The wall of the Cobb provided both a breakwater to protect the town from storms and an artificial harbour.

Well-sited for trade with France, the port’s most prosperous period was from the 16th century until the end of the 18th century, and as recently as 1780 it was larger than Liverpool. The town’s importance as a port declined in the 19th century because it was unable to handle the increase in ship sizes.

It was in the Cobb harbour, after the great storm of 1824, that Captain Sir Richard Spencer RN carried out his pioneering lifeboat design work.

Captain Wentworth and the Musgroves walk the Cobb in search of Captain Harville, Persuasion, 1995.

A 1685 account describes it as being made of boulders simply heaped up on each other: “an immense mass of stone, of a shape of a demi-lune, with a bar in the middle of the concave: no one stone that lies there was ever touched with a tool or bedded in any sort of cement, but all the pebbles of the see are piled up, and held by their bearings only, and the surge plays in and out through the interstices of the stone in a wonderful manner.”

The Cobb has been destroyed or severely damaged by storms several times; it was swept away in 1377 which led to the destruction of 50 boats and 80 houses. The southern arm was added in the 1690s, and rebuilt in 1793 following its destruction in a storm the previous year. This is thought to be the first time that mortar was used in the Cobb’s construction. The Cobb was reconstructed in 1820 using Portland Admiralty Roach, a type of Portland stone.


From Wikipedia. The Free Encyclopedia.

Posted on

Discovering Bath with Jane Odiwe

Jane Austen festival


Now for Bath…
Jane Austen to Cassandra
September 13, 1815

 jane odiweSearching For Captain Wentworth, my newest book,  was inspired by Jane Austen’s novel, Persuasion. In it, my heroine Sophie is invited by her aunt to spend some time in the family townhouse.  As she is at a loose end with a broken heart, she thinks it might be a brilliant idea. After all, she’s wanted to visit Bath since she firstt read her favourite novel, Persuasion, and longs to walk in Jane Austen’s footsteps.

On arrival, she finds she’s actually living next door to Jane Austen’s own house, but far from being the Regency fantasy she’s imagined, her flat turns out to be a rather neglected place and she only has access to the upper floors. The lower part of the house is occupied by the mysterious Josh Strafford who works at the Holburne Museum over the road in Sydney Gardens.

It’s not long, however, before Sophie learns that she’s not alone. A ghostly presence and the discovery of an ancestor’s journal fascinate her. When she sees Josh drop something out on the pavement outside she follows him and picks up the wet object which unfurls in her hand. It looks like Captain Wentworth’s glove. Running after him into the gardens she loses sight of him and when she steps through a cast-iron gate down to the canal that’s where her timeslip adventure begins.

I had such fun with this book because I love Bath and am very lucky to be able to spend a lot of time there. It’s my idea of Fairyland and has totally inspired this book. Writing about the time that Jane lived there involved lots of lovely research and I enjoyed weaving fact and fiction together.

There are three romantic story lines which run through the book, but it’s not all rosy – I very much wanted to show how difficult it was for women in Jane Austen’s era, and to have the different viewpoints of those in the past as well as the present. Jane Austen’s story unravels alongside Sophie’s and I enjoyed including many of the Austen family – especially Charles Austen, one of my handsome heroes.

Photo of the Jane Austen Centre Tearoom courtesy of Katrina Casey

I visit all my favourite places in Bath. The action takes place at the Holburne Museum, Sydney Gardens, the Assembly Rooms, the Pump Room and up on Beechen Cliff. My hero and heroine even take tea at the Jane Austen Centre in the lovely tearoom!

 Taking a turn into Quiet Street and rounding the corner onto Gay Street, we climbed ever higher, unable to pass the Jane Austen Centre without visiting the giftshop where Josh treated me to a book. I chose Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends, a sumptuous volume, which had my mouth watering at the fantastic recipes. Josh suggested we break our fast by sampling the hot buttered ‘Crawford’s Crumpets’, washed down with a cup of Peking tea in the Regency tearoom upstairs, and in such surroundings we felt we’d escaped from the hustle and bustle of town life below.
-Searching For Captain Wentworth

I’m delighted to have been invited to talk at the Jane Austen Festival this year – I’m so looking forward to meeting those of you who are coming. Look for me at the costume promenade – I shall be there with my camera so I can send pictures round the world to show Janeites who cannot be there what a wonderful spectacle there is to be seen. This is one of the highlights for me – some of the costumes are amazing. Hand-sewn and beautifully stitched, many professional costumiers and re-enactors delight in showing off their skills. Equally endearing are the homemade outfits and the children are especially adorable dressed in costumes and dresses crafted from clothes they already possess. There’s a lovely carnival atmosphere and such a buzz of conversation that you might think you really had travelled back in time!

jane odiwe
Visit Katrina’s blog to read more about the Regency ensemble she designed

There are so many lovely talks, demonstrations and theatre performances during the whole festival that you’re really spoiled for choice. Not to mention the dancing! And there are lessons too – so you can’t go wrong. Well, not unless you’re like me – I love dancing but sometimes I forget the steps, but then it’s all part of the fun. I promise, you will spend a lot of time laughing. The Festival Fayre is a favourite of mine – if you need a new reticule, a parasol or a new book, you’re sure to find it.

When you’re not busy with the Festival, there are some must-see places to visit. Top of my list because it is so central is The Pump Room. You don’t have to take tea here though that is a lovely treat. You can sample the waters for a small charge and have a look at the wonderful surroundings!

Just walking through the revolving door under the Pump Rooms sign was as good as stepping back in time, and it did look as wonderful as I’d hoped. A sea of tables dressed in crisp white linen stretched the length of the room, each decorated with arrangements of white lilies scenting the air along with the evocative aromas of Earl Grey tea, pungent morning coffee, the fragrant smells of cake and toasted Bath buns. From the lofty ceiling, a dazzling chandelier glittered above the throngs of tourists. Spangled with strings of crystals like sprinkles on winter cobwebs, every pendalogue dripped prisms of rainbow light to illuminate the glossy hair of a young girl, or to wink in a clinking, silver teaspoon.
-Searching For Captain Wentworth

Don’t forget to visit the Assembly Rooms if you can. Not only will you find the ballroom, the tearoom and the octagon room that Jane Austen talks of in her novels but the Fashion Museum is housed here. They have a fabulous collection including many Georgian dresses – there’s always something new to see.

Last, but by no means least, pop into the Jane Austen Centre for an entertaining talk and exhibitions as well as the gorgeous shop. I don’t think I’ve ever left without buying something so be prepared!

I shall be talking about my writing, and reading from Searching For Captain Wentworth on Wednesday 19th September at the Duncan Room, BRLSI 16-18 Queen Square BA1 2HN at 10.30 – it would be wonderful to see you there or at any of the Festival events!

Jane Odiwe is an author and an artist. She is completely obsessed with all things Austen and is the author of is the author of Mr Darcy’s Secret,  Lydia Bennet’s StoryWilloughby’s Return and the newly published Searching For Captain Wentwort. She lives with her husband and three children in North London and Bath, England.

Posted on

Captain Wentworth Speaks on Matters Naval

“The Admiralty,” he continued, “entertain themselves now and then, with sending a few hundred men to sea, in a ship not fit to be employed. But they have a great many to provide for; and among the thousands that may just as well go to the bottom as not, it is impossible for them to distinguish the very set who may be least missed.”
Captain Wentworth, Persuasion
by Jane Austen

While this comment may cause readers to wonder whether Captain Wentworth is joking or whether the seaworthiness of British Naval vessels was actually in question, at this moment in time, 200 years distant from the author’s experiences, readers may simply scratch their heads and read on. After all, who wants to stop reading and research a single obscure quote.

Captain Thomas Cochrane and a ship of the day
Captain Thomas Cochrane

As it happens, the disregard, which the Admiralty showed for the safety of the men under their command, was a topic of discussion in Jane Austen’s day. The deplorable situation prompted Captain Thomas Cochrane to run for Parliament. Once elected, as a reform candidate in 1807, he raised questions before Parliament about the manner in which the British Navy was being run, singling out Lord St Vincent, First Lord of the Admiralty, for allowing unchecked corruption within the British Navy.

While John Jervis, fist Earl of St. Vincent, was not corrupt himself; he was a political animal, who knew better than to cross conservative forces within the government by ending age-old-privileges. St. Vincent’s most striking innovation was the first time use of cost effective assembly line production techniques for the carving of the thousands of wooden rigging blocks needed by the British Navy, at a facility built in Portsmouth Royal Dockyard. Corruption and skimming had long been considered perks of office, so long as they did not become egregious. Conservative forces within the British government wished to protect their right to line their pockets at government expense, while in office.

Captain Cochrane, who was a respected and highly successful British Naval commander, had personal knowledge of the scandalously corrupt and inept management of the British fleet. He personally knew the captains of two vessels, which had recently sunk, resulting in the death of all aboard. The commanders of the HMS sloop Atalante and the schooner Felix had repeatedly written to the Admiralty, concerning the extremely unseaworthy state of their ships. Both ships had been refused permission to put into port for repairs.

Captain Cochrane’s speeches in Parliament became the topic of newspaper articles and public discussion. Jane Austen may have read about these speeches in Parliament in The Times or may well have heard about the situation from her brothers Frank and Charles, who were in the Navy. However, conservative forces within the Navy and Parliament were so entrenched that, in the end, nothing was done about naval mismanagement.

Austen Officers Navy

Captain Cochrane’s attempts at reform were ended, by the simple expedient of ordering him back to sea. Jane, as is her custom, handles the serious subject with a light and witty touch that is never preachy or pedantic. The literary sister of two navy men has the parting shot with her discussion, indicting the Admiralty for their disregard for the safety of the men serving in the British Navy, set around a dinner table, among the families, to whom the men are dear.


Written for the Jane Austen Online Magazine Sharon Wagoner, Curator of The Georgian Index. Visit this site for a historical tour through Regency London!

Posted on

D’Arcy Wentworth: Heroic Inspiration?

Jane Austen’s Aunt was once at risk of transportation to Botany Bay for shoplifting. It is piquant then,  that Austen named two of her major male characters Fitzwilliam Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) and Captain Wentworth (Persuasion), because a leading inhabitant of New South Wales in those years was D’Arcy Wentworth, a disreputable but acknowledged kinsman of Lord Fitzwilliam. D’Arcy Wentworth’s career smacks more of Georgette Heyer than Jane Austen, since he was a highwayman four times acquitted. Rather than push his luck further, he went, a free man, as assistant surgeon with the Second Fleet in 1790. As a young teenager Jane Austen may have read about him in the Times.

Remembered in Australian history, his origins somewhat fudged, as father of the better-known W.C. Wentworth, D’Arcy turns out to be a complex and significant character. All his life he was an outsider. Born in Ireland in 1762, he was the youngest son of a Protestant innkeeper whose family had come down in the world. D’Arcy qualified as an assistant surgeon in London, but then gravitated to vice and crime; through flash arrogance, Ritchie thinks, rather than a self-destructive urge.

Once in Australia, Wentworth spent his first six years on Norfolk Island, the margin of marginalised New South Wales. Back in Sydney, he still seemed too raffish for intimacy with the New South Wales Corps clique, the Macarthurs and their like. Because of his professional skills and an economic clout built up through trade, notably in rum, Wentworth could not be ignored. Walking alone, he trod delicately through the feuds and alliances which culminated in Governor Bligh’s overthrow in 1808.

Bligh had suspended Wentworth for allegedly using government prisoners on his own private projects; so it was not surprising that Wentworth sided with Macarthur and the men of property who made the Rum Rebellion. But he did not draw too close to them, and when Governor Macquarie arrived in 1810 Wentworth soon won favour with him.

By the end of 1810 the erstwhile outcast was principal surgeon, justice of the peace, commissioner for turnpike roads, and superintendent of police — the last appointment beginning a venerable New South Wales tradition of contentious appointments. Not surprisingly in one who learned his political ethics in eighteenth century Ireland, Wentworth tended to be a lax and negligent administrator, happy to leave the work to subordinates while he got on with the serious business of enriching himself. Except when his business interests brought out the bully in him he was a humane justice who punished leniently. He weathered the criticisms following Commissioner Bigge’s reports in the early 1820s. When a court of quarter session was set up in 1824 he would have been its chairman but for failing health. Not bad for an ex-highwayman.

Success in the cut-throat business and factional politics of early New South Wales often depended on the quality of aristocratic influence which could be brought to bear in London. Where Macarthur had to exert himself in courting Lord Camden or Sir Joseph Banks, Wentworth had the inside running through his shadowy kinship with Lord Fitzwilliam. In addition to direct patronage, Wentworth had access to the earl’s London agent, the long-suffering and trustworthy Charles Cookney, who looked after commercial matters and fostered Wentworth’s sons when they were sent to England for education.

These sons were the children of the convict Catherine Crowley, Wentworth’s common law wife until her death in 1800. He never married, but through serial monogamy produced at least twelve children, the last born some months after his death, aged sixty-five, in 1827. The eldest son, William Charles, was the apple of D’Arcy’s eye, and some of Ritchie’s subtlest and most telling insights chart the changing relationship between father and son.

Where D’Arcy was cool, diplomatic, and rationally self-interested — a gentleman of the road, maybe, but still a gentleman — William was roughshod, Byronic, and passionate. The father compartmentalised his life with almost chilling efficiency. He never wrote to his Irish family and seldom allowed personal rancour to interfere with business. In William’s character private and public motives fused stormily. He fought the Macarthurs not just because they were powerful, but because they snubbed his courtship of their sister.

Do you love Darcy? Then you might find this section of use at our online shop.

Geoffrey Bolton is Senior Scholar in Residence at Murdoch University. This article originally appeared in The Australian Book Review (June, 1998) and is reprinted with their permission.

Jane & D’Arcy, the story of Jane Austen and D’Arcy Wentworth’s hidden romance,  by Wal Walker, a descendent of D’Arcy, was published in two voulmes in 2017.

Posted on

Officer’s Uniforms of the British Navy

Dressing Captain Wentworth

Ah! Who can resist the thought of a man in uniform? Certainly not Mrs. Bennet (“I remember the time when I liked a red coat myself very well — and indeed, so I do still at my heart…”) From her ever warm admiration, Jane must have had similar feelings for Naval Officers. She would have been surrounded by them during her stay in Portsmouth, living with her brother, Captain Francis Austen. There, she would have had firsthand knowledge of “the character of the navy; their friendliness, their brotherliness, their openness, their uprightness… convinced of sailors having more worth and warmth than any other set of men in England; that they only knew how to live, and they only deserved to be respected and loved.”

What then, made up the uniform of a Captain in the British Navy?

British Naval Uniform Regulations were first implemented by Lord Anson in 1748. They were, reportedly, lobbied for by the officers, themselves, who “wished to be recognized as being in the service of the Crown.” The color blue, while seemingly a natural one for the Navy to choose was actually decided upon by the then monarch, George II, who, seeing the Duchess of Bedford ride out in a habit of blue faced with white, was so taken by the combination that he chose the same for his officers’ uniforms.

The “best uniform”, consisting of an embroidered blue coat with white facings, worn unbuttoned with white breeches and stockings, was worn for ceremonial occasions; the “working rig” was a simpler, less embroidered uniform for day-to-day use. In 1767 the best uniform was abolished and replaced by the working rig, with a simpler “undress” uniform for day-to-day use. By 1795, as a result of the French Revolutionary Wars, a plain blue “undress” coat had been introduced for everyday use, and epaulettes were officially introduced.*

According to the National Maritime Museum, “With undress uniform, [Officers] wore a plain hat, and epaulettes only some of the time. Captains with less than three years seniority wore only one epaulette on the right shoulder. Commanders wore one epaulette on the left shoulder. Lieutenants wore the uniform with white lapels introduced in 1787 until 1812. Warrant officers’ uniform was unchanged from 1787 until 1807 (this rank included pursers, gunners, boatswains, carpenters and, until 1805, surgeons).” The white collar patch of the Midshipman first appeared about 1758 and their uniform did not change after the modifications introduced in 1787.

By 1846 all officers wore epaulettes. The white facings came and went over the years, briefly becoming scarlet (1830-1843). Though stripes of lace on the cuffs had been used to distinguish the different ranks of admiral since 1795, the first version of current rank insignia, consisting of stripes with a “curl” in the top one, was introduced for all officers in 1856.

Again, the NMM offers, “Admirals had three silver stars on each epaulette and three rows of lace on the coat sleeve, vice-admirals two and rear-admirals one, worn with both dress and undress uniform. In practice, as opposed to the regulations, the sleeve lace seems to have been sewn on the cuff.

A flag officer’s full dress blue coat had one row of gold lace round the lapels, buttonholes, tails, pockets and pocket flaps. There was an extra row on the cuffs in addition to the distinction lace. It had a white lining and was worn with a gold laced hat, white waistcoat and breeches. The buttons remained those introduced in 1787. The undress uniform was similar but without lace on the lapels, pockets, buttonholes and the extra row on the cuff.

Captains’ dress uniform was similar to that of flag officers but without laced buttonholes and with two rows of lace on cuffs. Epaulettes were plain.”

In 1825, the white breeches were replaced by trousers for officers serving in the United Kingdom. Throughout the nineteenth century, there was great variation in uniform; officers paid for their own uniform, and often adapted it to fit civilian fashion of the time, as the Admiralty regulations governing uniform were not highly prescriptive.*

Headgear tended to follow the fashion of the times. Even a brief review of the period will show a number of variations on a theme, though the bi-corn was quite popular. Other items, such as vests and cravats or neck stocks were, to a certain extent left to the discretion of the wearer. A review of Lord Nelson’s wardrobe shows a number of “non-regulation” items including hose, waistcoat and black velvet stock.

The question is often asked as to why Captain Wentworth is not portrayed thus in most story illustrations and films. In Mansfield Park, Jane Austen, herself, answers the question:

William had obtained a ten days’ leave of absence, to be given to Northamptonshire, and was coming, the happiest of lieutenants, because the latest made, to shew his happiness and describe his uniform.

He came; and he would have been delighted to shew his uniform there too, had not cruel custom prohibited its appearance except on duty.

So the uniform remained at Portsmouth, and Edmund conjectured that before Fanny had any chance of seeing it, all its own freshness and all the freshness of its wearer’s feelings must be worn away.

According to Navy Regulations in 1861, “Officers on furlough will not wear their uniform, and officers are strictly prohibited from wearing any part of it while suspended from duty by sentence of a court martial.” Another portion of the regultions state that ” A person who is discharged honorably or under honorable conditions from the…Navy…may wear his uniform while going from the place of discharge to his home, within three months after his discharge.” Coupled with Jane’s suggestion of “cruel custom” it is clear that while on shore, Captains Wentoworth, Harville and Benwick would have been in civilian dress, as modeled by the newest version of Persuasion. A pity, but a historical necessity. Still, I cannot fault any costume department for desiring to change history. Wouldn’t we all like to imagine the dashing Captain in his gold laced coat, sweeping Anne off her feet and carrying her away?

Why not browse our costume section at our online giftshop for costume, patterns and accessories?

*Historical Information from: Wikipedia, the Online Encyclopedia, with additional material from The National Maritime Museum. Visit their site for further information on Regency Sailors’ dress as well as photographs of actual Georgian era uniforms, including that of Admiral Lord Nelson.

A complete description of United States Navy Uniform Regulations from 1814 can be found here. The details found in this document would strongly resemble those in the British Regulations.

Minature portrait of Capt. Francis Austen, by kind permission of owner. All other reproduction prohibited.

Posted on

How to Write a Love Letter

how to write a love letter

How to Write a Love Letter

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce mysoul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone forever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight yearsand a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I haveloved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alonehave brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to haveunderstood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W.

I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.

Composing a love letter can seem intimidating or even ridiculous at first. Putting your innermost, personal feelings into words can be a challenge in itself, but the fears of rejection, confusion, and embarrassment of conveying these feelings prevent many passions from being expressed and many desires from being achieved.

To begin writing a love letter, the most important step is to clear your mind of any inhibitions you might have. Remember, love letters can touch the heart of anyone–a tough teenager, or even a husband of twenty- five years–when written truthfully and tastefully. Your love letter may even be treasured and kept for years to come. So, clear your mind of clutter–if necessary clear your desk as well–and focus on your letter.

While not as important as the content, the presentation of your letter should be considered first. Select stationery appropriate to your personality and the emotion of the letter– this could be perfumed paper covered in flowers, or it might be something as simple as notebook paper or even a napkin.Let the stationery reflect you and your moment. Be sure to hand-write your letter, unless of course your handwriting is completely illegible. Your handwriting is more personal and more meaningful than any font you could choose. A fountain pen, preferably with dark ink, is more pleasing to the eye than ballpoint pen. Finishing your letter or envelope with a seal adds a nice touch, as does a special postage stamp.

Before you begin to write, determine the letter’s purpose. Are you writing to tell your lover how much you miss him or her? Are you beginning contact with someone you hardly know? Each letter will require a different note. Take into consideration how long and how well you know the person to whom you are writing. Be careful not to go overboard with someone you hardly know–start off slow and easy.

Be sure to date your letter. The date will invite memories and emotion even years later, as your loved one looks back. Select a salutation appropriate for the depth of your relationship. “Dear Fitzwilliam” is fine, but be creative. Feel free to use nicknames and term of endearment.

The body of your letter should come from the heart. It does not have to be perfect, nor does it have to look professional. You are the author of this letter. For this reason, be sincere, be honest, and be yourself. Avoid using complicated words when a simple one will do. You want your lover to be thinking of you, not a dictionary.

Don’t be afraid to be funny. Humor has its place in love and it can be used to break the ice if you are initiating communication with someone you hardly know. If you feel inclined, poke fun at yourself and your helpless state of infatuation. Mention inside jokes, place and events that only the two of you know. This will give your letter a personal feel and remind your lover of the intimate nature of your correspondence.

Stick to a loving and romantic voice. This is not the time for nagging or jealousy. A love letter is meant to evoke the deepest, most passionate of emotions. Keep your focus and remember your purpose for writing and you will achieve the desired effect.

Just writing a love letter produces a calming and romantic mood. Writing a love letter is an excellent way to collect your thoughts and put a relationship into perspective. Just think how surprised your lover will be when he or she receives your letter. Try placing the envelope in a secret place: on the pillow, in his briefcase, on her bathroom mirror. Receiving a true love letter is an unforgettable moment.

With the right touch, your love letter will be a personal and beautiful expression of your love. It will be a unique work of art to be experienced and cherished–and an expression only you can give.

Searching for the right stationery on which to write your note? Try these:

  Jane Austen Novels Greetings Cards

Excerpted from The Art of the Love Letter by Thomas Campbell (mini-kit edition) Running Press,U.S.; 2001 (978-0762413119).