Jane Austen Fashion: What Emma & Mary Wore?

February 23, 2011 at 10:26 pm (books, fashion, research) (, , , , , , )

When working on a book about the period 1815-17 — the teen years of a woman who ultimately marries into the Austen family — an important concern is to envision not only what my girls looked like but also the fashions they might have been wearing. The most extensive description Emma provides is of the court dress her mother and eldest sister wear when young Augusta was presented in 1817. Yet these girls undoubtedly were interested in fashion, and I like to think of them as looking over the very same Fashion Plates I find in Ackermann’s:

Described as an “Evening Dress,” this delicate creation is a design of Mrs. Bean of Albemarle-street. “This lady, since her visit to Paris, has incorporated in her dresses, in the style of French costume, all that is to be admired in the exuberant varieties which that country produces; and has moderated the same by a fancy governed by a chaste feeling peculiar to herself.”

The fashion plate’s original description is tantalizing: “A celestial blue crape frock, over a white satin slip, ornamented round the bottom with a deep border of tull or net lace, embroidered with shaded blue silks and chenille; short full sleeve, trimmed with tull or net lace; the dress trimmed entirely round the top, to correspond…. Slippers of blue satin or kid. White gloves of French kid.” Her jewelry is “Necklace of pearl; ear-drops and bracelets to correspond.”

The girl herself comes under discussion: “Hair parted in the centre of the forehead, confined in the Grecian style, and blended with flowers.”

Young Augusta was attending concerts and plays in 1815; I can imagine her in just such a dress. Will have to look through the letters and diaries to see if anyone made any mention of Mrs. Bean. Will update if I find anything!!

I’m interested in anything anyone might be able to tell about Mrs. Bean!

The Jane Austen Centre (Bath, England) has a nice description of another Mrs. Bean creation, written by Candice Hern.

Find all Ackermann’s Repository of Art volumes (from Internet Archive) on this blog.

Permalink 1 Comment

Colin Firth Reads the King’s Letters & Diaries

February 21, 2011 at 10:56 am (people, research) (, , , , , , , , , )

Just watched 60 Minutes. Wonderful to see Colin Firth (AKA Mr. Darcy to many, many Austen fans…) called a successful actor about whom little is known; and wonderful to see him walking around Hampshire (I think I recognized a bit of street in one segment…).

But my main reason for this post is to talk about the TERRIFIC “FIND” — a cache of letters and diaries in the attic (where else…) of the speech therapist’s former home; his grandson unearthed the items when searching for photographs. The film crew had asked for photos, hoping to find some costume ideas — but they got more than they bargained for when the response came back I’ve got photographs, and a lot more.

I’ve not had the opportunity to delve deep into 60 Minutes Overtime (with more information on the letters and diaries). The same link will give you video (if you missed it) of Colin Firth and his visit to Hampshire.

Enjoy!

P.S. Writer David Seidler has an interesting tale to tell too. See it at Boston Globe.

Permalink Leave a Comment

Jane Austen’s Business

February 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm (books, chutes of the vyne, people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Or, James Austen’s Shopping Spree:

A most useful account of soon-to-be new husband James Austen, eldest brother of Jane, when he was setting up a household with his first wife, Anne Mathew (mother of Anna Austen Lefroy), in 1792. The list (and costs) make for interesting reading.

The purveyor was RING BROTHERS of BASINGSTOKE; among their many clients: The Chutes of The Vyne. The company ledgers reside in the Hampshire Record Office (Winchester), although this list is taken from the delightful article written by Edward Copeland entitled “The Austens and the Elliots: A Consumer’s Guide to Persuasion (in: McMaster & Stovel, eds., Jane Austen’s Business: Her World and Her Profession). Ring Brothers is the same firm from which came the beds Rev. Austen purchased for his two daughters, as well as a little writing table.

Among the furniture items listed for purchase by James Austen:

A 2-foot 10-inch Mahogany Pembroke table on casters (£1 18s)
An Oval Mahogany Card Table, lined in green cloth (£2 2s)
2 Mahogany Convenient Stools (£1 11s)
2 Mahogany beds on casters (£4 4s)
A 4-poster bed on casters (£1 18s 6d)

Household “necessities” include a Dumb waiter on casters (£2 2s)
2 Mahogany Face Screens on Claws (£1 1s)
flat irons
a twenty-gallon tub
a deal ironing-board
a nutmeg grater
and “other backstairs necessities” (costs: unspecified by Copeland)

Another day evident found James bringing home such items as:
Best Urn Topped Shovel Tongs & Poker (8s)

My favorites are the eventual “extravagances”:
a clock — “arch head’ model, with a walnut case (£7)
sopha – “with all the extras of covers, pads, pillows” (£7)

I can’t wait to delve more into the Ring Brothers’ files at HRO. Another item for my list!

Permalink Leave a Comment

A Richard Seymour Sighting!

February 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm (news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

In “conversation” over email with Charlotte Frost (see the post on her new biography of Sir William Knighton), it turned up that Ms. Frost had seen a photograph of the Rev. Richard Seymour — husband of my dear Fanny Smith — among a group of family photos!

Now, the Warwickshire Record Office has the not-very-good photo of a portrait of a young Richard (see portraits page), but can you imagine: seeing, “in the flesh”, a photo of someone you only know through his words and deeds? Quite THRILLING!!!

Richard has a nice “following” in Warwickshire, thanks to the talks given by Alan Godfrey. Alan had kindly invited me to offer a talk on Fanny Smith when I was in England in 2007. Seems a lifetime ago. We had a great turnout that Friday evening — thanks in no small part to Alan’s organization skills. I was able to have in hand a drawing of dear Fanny, probably done by her eldest sister Augusta, but maybe done by her sister Emma. This was done when Fanny was in her 20s and reminds me of the work of Mrs Carpenter — very likely, as that artist was commissioned for a number of pieces in the Smith family, which means the girls had the opportunity to watch her work, as well as study her methods.

By the way, Richard is described by Ms. Frost as “a man in his 60s, seated at a desk”. How wonderful if the same holding turns up a picture of … Fanny!

Permalink 3 Comments

Happy Birthday, Augusta Wilder!

February 8, 2011 at 9:53 am (people, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

by Frenchie (Photobucket)

In a family with NINE children, never mind the in-laws, the Smiths of Suttons celebrated many birthdays over a calendar year. And today, February 8th, celebrates the birth of the first of those nine: Augusta Smith. Born the year after her parents’ March 1798 marriage, Augusta was “on the way” by the time her mother, also Augusta Smith, finished penning her delightful diary for that year. Alas! no — yet? — diary for 1799. But the thoughts Augusta/Mamma has about becoming a mother exist in the diary we do have. And thanks (once again!) to Mark Woodford, I’ve examined and been able to mull over these thoughts of hers.

But my birthday gift — to myself (birthday last week) and to Augusta Smith Wilder — was the unearthing of a letter, written in 1824, and penning by my Two Augustas! It pre-dates a letter to the same recipient which Angela in Alberta has transcribed.

Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink Leave a Comment

Long & Winding Road to Fort Worth – Part 2

February 4, 2011 at 8:09 pm (jasna) (, , , )

JASNA has posted the “breakout speaker” sessions!

My own talk, “A House Divided? How the ‘Sister Arts’ Define the Dashwood Sisters,” is among those up first: Friday, 14 October 2011 at 3:00 p.m.

I have to miss a couple papers I’d love to hear, but what others to choose?? One I simply MUST attend: Kristen Miller Zohn, “Tokens of Imperfect Affection: Portrait Miniatures and Hairwork in Sense and Sensibility. Fascinating subject! For the Smiths & Goslings speak so many times about hairwork, that I’ve begun to “keep” hair myself (a nice lock of my own hair, and my of mother).

Check out the schedule here.

Permalink 4 Comments

Book Raffle: Life in the Country (autographed)

February 2, 2011 at 1:35 am (books, news, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

To Celebrate the birthdays of
Mary Gosling and Charles Joshua Smith,
Two Teens in the Time of Austen
announces its first book raffle.
The gift that’s up for grabs?
An autographed copy of the British Library edition of

 Life in the Country: with Quotations by Jane Austen
& Silhouettes by her nephew
James Edward Austen Leigh

**This copy is signed by Joan Klingel Ray, Maggie Lane and Freydis Jane Welland**

**This copy is signed by Joan Klingel Ray, Maggie Lane and Freydis Jane Welland**

Edited by Freydis Jane Welland and Eileen Sutherland, book contents include:

“Jane Austen and Her Family”
Maggie Lane

“The Silhouette Art of James Edward Austen Leigh”
Joan Klingel Ray

Silhouettes
James Edward Austen Leigh

Quotations
Jane Austen

 with an afterword by Joan Austen Leigh

— To enter —

Read the rest of this entry »

Permalink Leave a Comment