Austen and Children’s Games

Today Meg Levin discusses children’s games in Jane Austen’s time.

Written by Meg Levin, contributing writer, WHAT JANE AUSTEN DIDN’T TELL US!

The backstories I co-wrote involved two of the Bennet daughters, so I researched child rearing in the late eighteenth century. I was particularly curious about games and toys. Indeed, there are some references in Austen’s novels and letters to activities that are both fun and encourage physical development.

The pictured game employs a bilbocatch, a challenging toy that requires good eye/hand coordination and patience. This particular one is cleverly designed to have two levels of difficulty. You can hold it near the pointy end, start swinging the attached ball back and forth to build up momentum and then flip it and try to catch it in the concave base where it fits snugly. Once you’ve mastered that, you’re ready to make use of the hole in the bottom of the ball. Turn the stick upside down, hold…

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