I’m back!

Once again my planned short break from blogging turned into a long hiatus. I feel like I missed so much of import for fans of this era of every stripe – the bicentennial  of Waterloo! Aidan Turner’s abs! Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell! I’ve been distracted by non-historical things, like sewing to update my (modern) wardrobe and breaking in a new (to me) computer. The latter has involved reorganizing my research bookmarks and learning a new (to me) graphics-editing program- activities which tend to make me spew very un-ladylike profanity and then ragequit.  I did manage to squeeze in another letter-writing project that I’ll share with you soon.  I have been working on some more posts on the little things that add up to major accomplishments in Jane Austen’s era.  My topic this week will be a very little one that I’ve mentioned in passing: sealing wafers!

Please bear with me while I do some blog-housekeeping this week as well, like answering long-neglected comments and messages, reading through some of the blog-posts I’ve missed from other bloggers, and updating my theme. Thanks to all of you for bearing with my long absence.  I do love to hear from you!

I especially want to thank Nessa of the lovely “Sewing Empire” blog for nominating me for my first ever blog award! More after the cut!

Continue reading “I’m back!”

On the Road

Crodrey: Chaplin's Dover-London  Stage
“J. & W. Chaplin’s Dover-London Stage on the Road” painted by John Cordrey, c. 1814. (Yale Center for British Art)

Dear Readers,  I apologize for the lull.  I am getting ready for a trip after a few years of staying close to home, and in the hustle and bustle of preparation I just couldn’t find time to finish any posts.  I’m itching to write up a few things I have spent a long time researching, so I hope to have new content here soon after my return, about two weeks hence.

My mode of transport won’t be as slow or as picturesque as the coach depicted above. However,  I will have limited internet access so I won’t be able to moderate comments or read email speedily during that time.  Thanks for your patience and support!

Send a Letter to 1814

A quick update- I feel ready to celebrate my accomplishments by making a “Schoolpiece” or sampler of my elegant 18th century handwriting, but I’ve run into some difficulties reproducing a writing blank. I’ve been grumbling in frustration for a while rather than writing and posting. Sorry!

But I’ve gotten very excited about a project that will use my handwriting skills in a new way.  Sabine of the amazing bilingual blog Kleidung Um 1800 has sent out an open call for letters as part of her re-enactment of a Milliner’s shop in Westphalia (now part of Germany) in 1814. It’s modelled on the HMS Acasta’s Mail Packet which seems to be on hiatus this year which has been postponed to September this year. If you’d like to learn more (and maybe contribute a letter of your own), check out these posts on Kleidung Um 1800 (look for the English portions in italics beneath each paragraph of German):

Letters Part I  —  Letters Part II

I’ve had a lot of fun researching and planning letters, and I can’t wait to share with you what I’ve learned! While I put the finishing touches on that project, I have some posts planned about other writing-related topics from Jane Austen’s era. Don’t forget to check out my Pinterest boards and my Tumblr!

Image: Detail from “The Love Letter”, Willem Bartel van der Kooi, 1808. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Dear Readers,

Interior with Young Woman Tracing a Flower, c.1820–22 by Louise-Adéone Drölling. St. Louis Art Museum.

Thanks for your support for my project! I am trying to settle down to a regular posting schedule of 2-3 times a week, so stay tuned.  I have a mix of posts planned for the next few weeks that I hope you will find interesting. Since my progress reports on handwriting tend to be very black and white, I’ll also be sharing some more colorful art and objects from real, historical Accomplished Ladies (like Louise Drolling’s painting above) and more thoughts on accomplishments in Jane Austen’s writings.

A few items of news to tide you over until the next post:

I’ve updated my About page with more details about this project. Read about the original Lady Smatter, why I chose the date range 1770-1820, and my philosophy on primary sources!

If you like this blog, there are other ways you can follow me:

  • Follow me on Tumblr for updates, sneak peeks, and daily images from the Georgian and Regency periods. I also cross-post Her Reputation posts there, so if you already tumble it’s a great way to follow this project.
  • I just joined Pinterest as well, so if you have fallen down that particular rabbit hole to wonderland you can find me there too!

Truly Accomplished

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She had always wanted to do everything, and had made more progress both in drawing and music than many might have done with so little labour as she would ever submit to. She played and sang; — and drew in almost every style; but steadiness had always been wanting; and in nothing had she approached the degree of excellence which she would have been glad to command, and ought not to have failed of. She was not much deceived as to her own skill either as an artist or a musician, but she was not unwilling to have others deceived, or sorry to know her reputation for accomplishment often higher than it deserved.

– Jane Austen, Emma, Chapter 6

Jane Austen’s novels are deeply concerned with female accomplishments. Each character is evaluated on the depth and breadth of her skills and her knowledge, which reflect sharply on her character. Emma Woodhouse, for example, lacks the motivation to improve on her native cleverness, but not the desire to be considered accomplished by her circle of friends.

I am not like Jane Austen’s heroines in many ways: I am no longer young, already married, already endowed with a thorough modern education (preschool to PhD), and not at all English.  Nevertheless, I’m fascinated by the ideal of polite education for ladies in the late 18th/early 19th century. What better way to learn more than by practising the arts young ladies were expected to master?

Different sources give widely different advice about which skills a young lady must acquire in order to be considered accomplished – just think of Mr. Darcy and the Bingleys discussing what it means to be truly accomplished in chapter 8 of Pride and Prejudice!  I’ll be starting with one of the most basic accomplishments, handwriting, and one of the most popular arts, drawing.  Since I’ve always been more of an Emma than a Jane Fairfax,  I expect that there will be digressions and diversions along the way.

Part craft blog, part history blog, and part Austen fan blog, I hope this project will have something to entertain everyone who read Jane Austen and has an interest in the Regency period.