Jane Austen, Lydia, and Books

Today Anvita Budhraja discusses Jane Austen, Lydia Bennet and books.  Anvita is a student of English Literature and Women’s & Gender Studies at Columbia University.

When thinking about Lydia’s story, it was important to me to establish that she existed in a world wholly separate from the one to which she actually belonged. Developing a vivid imagination for Lydia was key to understanding what she thought and how, despite the social and familial forces around her, she could live and do as she pleased. This led me to explore what children’s literature looked like in England during Austen’s time as stories she heard would have sparked Lydia’s imagination.

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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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Gentleman’s Debts in Jane Austen’s Time by Paul Wray

Today Paul Wray discusses how gentlemen dealt with financial debt in Jane Austen’s time.

Jane Austen didn’t tell us about how George Wickham managed “to be in debt to every tradesman” in Meryton without finding himself in legal jeopardy for not paying what he owed. Likewise, at Brighton, Mr. Gardiner tells the family, “He owed a good deal in town, but his debts of honour were still more formidable.”

To read more, visit What Jane Austen Didn’t Tell Us!  




“Taking Tea” in Jane Austen’s Era

Today, Linda Pedro discusses the Regency practice of taking tea in Jane Austen’s era.

Post written by Linda Pedro, contributing author,What Jane Austen Didn’t Tell Us!

It is common for characters in Jane Austen’s novels to “take tea.” But the Regency practice was a far cry from today’s elaborate afternoon ritual featuring 3-tiered stands filled with finger sandwiches, scones and sweets. Taking tea often meant nothing more than drinking the beverage, by itself, some hours after the evening meal or with visitors in the afternoon. Buttered bread might be served, or a piece of cake.tea

The exotic drink from China was a costly indulgence of the ultra wealthy when it first arrived in England around 1657. Widely available by the early 1700s, its popularity exploded among all classes, fueled by its fashionable cachet and occasional affordability. But during Austen’s lifetime it was a luxury item, carefully rationed, even by those who could afford it. The duty and excise tax on tea was as…

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