You are currently browsing the daily archive for December 3, 2010.

Last night the first of the three episodes of Amanda Vickery’s new BBC TV series, At Home with the Georgians was aired on BBC 2. I will admit that I approached it with some trepidation. I loved her book, Behind Closed Doors, upon which the series is based, and admire Professor Vickery tremendously, clearly therefore, I didn’t want it to fail. So… was I disappointed? I am glad to say, not for one moment.

Professor Vickery took us on an engaging and thought-provoking journey around Georgian England, visiting houses grand and small to discover what it  meant for a Georgian man or woman to set up a home. The answer? The goal of a establishing a home meant everything to them.

We were shown archive stacks, diaries, lodgings in the Middle Temple (below), remote Westmoreland farmhouses and grand houses in Essex and Staffordshire and one in Nottinghamshire that became a prison for that unlucky person who was not to be the mistress of all she surveyed. Professor Vickery argues that the evidence to be found in the outpourings of 18th century diaries confirms that what an 18th century man wanted above all was a home  and a capable wife. He certainly did not want a silly, pretty  empty-headed porcelain doll sitting quietly on an elegant sofa a la Lady Bertram, despite the teachings of the conduct books aimed at females. He needed a capable, active  intelligent woman who could act as his deputy in his absence and bring all her talents to the fore, running  a tasteful comfortable home, ready to take every advantage of the new consumerism. No wonder Darcy showed no interest in the sickly Anne de Bourgh, whatever his aunt might have wished. The lively and intelligent Elizabeth Bennet was truly the one for him. The 18th century middling sort of man also did not really want a carousing, dissolute way of life, for only with respectability came a place in society and a chance to establish a home and attract a wife.

Charlotte Lucas’ dilemma is set out before us in a very, very clear and unvarnished manner. As an unwanted poor, spinster living on the charity of her not charitably minded-brothers she would have necessarily been unwanted and eventually unloved. The mentally tormented Gertrude Saville of Rufford Hall in Nottinghamshire, whose unhappiness clearly manifested itself not only in the words but in the crossings out of her tortured  diary, was a spinster in her brother’s home, without dowry and any prospects of one day finding a home of her own. Her diaries (one page is shown below) clearly reveal her to be a poor ,downtrodden, depressed and oppressed being, seeking comfort in her needlework and her cat, and being at the mercy of her brother’s good graces and the servants spite.*shudder*

Men like George Gibbs of Exeter and Dudley Ryder, a law student of the Middle Temple in London, knew that marriage was the step necessary to provide a home and any prospect of long-lasting  happiness. Poor John Courtney of Beverley in Yorkshire who tried to woo ladies ,indeed any number of ladies, in the Assembly Rooms in York, shown below, felt a complete failure when he failed to attract a wife despite having a fine home and income to call his home.  No Life, Without Wife, indeed.

We dipped our toes into the consumerism of the 18th century-Professor Vickery managed to visit the Lawrence of Crewkherne’s auction  of Georgian gadgets-below is a tongue scraper(YEACH)in the sale-  after first reading about it here

Jane Austen was referenced copiously within this first episode,as she is in Professor Vickery’s book.  As a faithful  chronicler of what 18th century people desired above all she was lauded. What they wanted was not necessarily a dashing, romantic life, with heart stoppingly beautiful heroes and heroines finding each other after dramatic( or melodramatic) trials and tribulations, but something quieter, more satisfying; their shared home.  Home could be the grand palace, as in Pemberley ,but was  more likely to be that which was more attainable ; happiness and contentment could be more readily found in the more in humble surroundings of the personages as at Delaford or Thornton Lacey, Fullerton or, yes, even at Hunsford.  Home as the reward of virtue was what Georgian men and women really wanted.

Professor Vickery’s glee at being in certain locations was obvious. Here at the Rectory at Teigh, which was the setting of Hunsford Parsonage in the BBC’s 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice, she did what many of us have wished to so……posing in front of a certain closet….inspecting the shelves…..

Shelves in the Closet? Happy Thought Indeed

At one point when visiting Chawton Cottage Professor Vickery gave Jane Austen’s writing-table a hug. Austen  was, of course, an example of a spinster who had a rich, productive, creative existence once her brother Edward stepped up to the plate and offered her Cassandra and Mrs Austen( not forgetting Martha Lloyd) a permanent home in Chawton from 1809 onwards. I can’t help but think it was a virtual hug to the ghost of Jane Austen herself. Who would, l think have, enjoyed this hour in Professor Vickery’s genial, fun but thought-provoking company.

My dear 17 year-old daughter who, inexplicably, does not have the History Appreciation Gene in her DNA, sat with me last night as a penance,bless her, but was converted and enjoyed every second, squealing with delight at spotting Charlotte Lucas’s closets, and making intelligent comments on the fates of the dissolute George Hilton , and the sadly not -at-all handsome George Gibbs.

This was not a was not a trumpeting, loud programme about great battles in history : it was a quiet, fun but serious and intelligent  look at some of the most fundamental questions that bothered the Georgians and still haunt us today: will I eventually find a home and someone  to love, with whom I can share it? It was in one world, marvellous. And I can’t wait till next week’s episode. I did smile at little at the product placement- the use of an IPad in many scenes. But having had one for some months now I admit is  IS a very useful tool when examining painting and engravings in detail and this is how Professor Vickery used it on this programme ( Publishers of art books take note: publishing e-editions on IBooks is the way to go! )

The series is available  to watch again-sadly only for those of us in the UK, I think,- on series link,which means there are 20 more days in which it enjoy this first episode. Go here to see it.

If you are not a Wordpress member, just add your email here to subscribe to this site.

An Invitation to Visit our Sister Site: A Jane Austen Gazetteer

Visit our sister site: A Jane Austen Gazetteer

Click on the image above to visit our Sister Site: A Jane Austen Gazetteer

An Invitation to Visit our Sister Site: Jane Austen’s Letters

Visit our sister site: Jane Austen's Letters

Click on the image above to visit our Sister Site: Jane Austen's Letters

Join Austen Only on Twitter

Recently Tweeted

Austenonly on Pinterest

Follow Me on Pinterest

Categories

Copyright Notice

Copyright: This site and all images and information complied within are copyright Austenonly.com unless otherwise stated/attributed.No permission is given/implied for any use of this site, the information and images contained therein, for any commercial use whatsoever. No material may be copied in any form without first obtaining written permission of the author, save that extracts of posts may be used on other non-commcerial sites on the internet, provided that full and clear credit is given to Austenonly.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content( that is, a link must be provided to the original post/image with full attribution ). The existence of the RSS or ATOM feeds in no way authorises wholesale or part transmission of posts or parts of posts to another site without prior permission being given and attribution stated. Any sites using RSS or ATOM feeds in this way without obtaining prior written permission of the author of this blog will be subject to legal action.

Currently Reading

Jane Austen’s Guide to Modern Life’s Dilemmas by Rebecca Smith

Jane Austen’s Guide to Modern Life’s Dilemmasby Rebecca Smith

Recently Read

James Wyatt, Architect to George III by John Martin Robinson

James Wyatt, Architect to George III by John Martin Robinson

Uvedale Price (1747-1829): Decoding the Picturesque” by Charles Watkins and Ben Cowell

Uvedale Price (1747-1829): Decoding the Picturesque” by Charles Watkins and Ben Cowell

"The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy” by Hannah Glasse, published by Prospect Books.

"The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy” by Hannah Glasse, published by Prospect Books.

The Letters of Mrs Lefroy: Jane Austen’s Beloved Friend, edited by Helen Lefroy and Gavin Turner

The Letters of Mrs Lefroy: Jane Austen’s Beloved Friend, edited by Helen Lefroy and Gavin Turner

Understanding Jane Austen: Key Concepts in the Six Novels

Understanding Jane Austen: Key Concepts in the Six Novels

The London Square by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

The London Square” by Todd Longstaffe-Gowan

"What Matters in Jane Austen?:Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved" by John Mullan

"What Matters in Jane Austen?:Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved" by John Mullan

May, Lou and Cass: Jane Austen's Nieces in Ireland by Sophia Hillan

May, Lou and Cass: Jane Austen's Nieces in Ireland by Sophia Hillan

An Introduction to the Tokens at the Foundling Museum” by Janette Bright and Gillian Clarke

An Introduction to the Tokens at the Foundling Museum” by Janette Bright and Gillian Clarke

Vauxhall Gardens: A History by David Coke and Alan Borg

Vauxhall Gardens: A History by David Coke and Alan Borg

Facing Beauty: Painted Women and Cosmetic Art by Aileen Ribeiro

Facing Beauty: Painted Women and Cosmetic Art by Aileen Ribeiro

Johan Zoffany by Mary Webster

Johan Zoffany by Mary Webster

Bergere,Poke and Cottage: Understanding Early Nineteenth Century Headwear  by Serena Dyer

Bergere,Poke and Cottage: Understanding Early Nineteenth Century Headwear” by Serena Dyer

The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons by Gill Perry with Joseph Roach and Shearer West

The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons by Gill Perry with Joseph Roach and Shearer West

Jane Austen's Letters (4th Edition) edited by Deirdre Le Faye

Jane Austen's Letters (4th Edition) edited by Deirdre Le Faye

Ice Cream by Ivan Day

Ice Cream by Ivan Day

Rooms With a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century by Sabine Rewald

Rooms With a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century by Sabine Rewald

Pastel Portraits of 18th Century Europe by Katharine Baetjer and Marjorie Shelly

Pastel Portraits of 18th Century Europe by Katharine Baetjer and Marjorie Shelly

The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock

The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock

The Eighteenth Century Church in Britain by Terry Friedman

The Eighteenth Century Church in Britain by Terry Friedman

Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion 1795-1815 by Christina Barreto and Martin Lancaster

Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion 1795-1815 by Christina Barreto and Martin Lancaster

Regarding Thomas Rowlandson: His Life, Art and Acquaintance by Matthew and James Payne

Regarding Thomas Rowlandson: His Life, Art and Acquaintance by Matthew and James Payne

The Omnipotent Magician:Lancelot "Capability" Brown by Jane Brown

The Omnipotent Magician:Lancelot "Capability" Brown by Jane Brown

The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen, Second Edition.

The Cambridge Companion to Jane Austen, Second Edition.

Thomas Rowlandson: Pleasures and Pursuits in Georgian England, edited by Patricia Phagan

Thomas Rowlandson: Pleasures and Pursuits in Georgian England, edited by Patricia Phagan

Ralph Allen, Builder of Bath by Diana Winsor

Ralph Allen, Builder of Bath by Diana Winsor

Fashioning Fashion European Dress in Detail 1700-1915

Fashioning Fashion European Dress in Detail 1700-1915

Jellies and their Moulds by Peter Brears

Jellies and their Moulds by Peter Brears

Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance

Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance

Sir Thomas Lawrence by Michael Levey

Sir Thomas Lawrence by Michael Levey

The Georgian Buildings of Bath by Walter Ison

The Georgian Buildings of Bath by Walter Ison

The Catalogue to the Chatsworth Attic Sale

The Catalogue to the Chatsworth Attic Sale

State Beds and Throne Canopies:Care and Conservation by Val Davies

State Beds and Throne Canopies:Care and Conservation by Val Davies

 The English Parsonage in the Early Nineteenth Century by Timothy Brittain-Catlin

The English Parsonage in the Early Nineteenth Century by Timothy Brittain-Catlin

The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Wages of Sin Shaped the Capital by Dan Cruickshank

The Secret History of Georgian London: How the Wages of Sin Shaped the Capital by Dan Cruickshank

London's Country Houses by Caroline Knight

London's Country Houses by Caroline Knight

Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill by Michael Snodin

Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill by Michael Snodin

Quilts 1700-2010: Hidden Histories, Untold Stories by Sue Prichard

Quilts 1700-2010: Hidden Histories, Untold Stories by Sue Prichard

Mrs Delany's Menus, Medicine and Manners by Katherine Cahill

Mrs Delany's Menus, Medicine and Manners by Katherine Cahill

Mrs Delany and her Circle by Mark Laird and Alicia Weisberg-Roberts

Mrs Delany and her Circle by Mark Laird and Alicia Weisberg-Roberts

The Brabourne Edition of Jane Austen's Letters at CUP (Vol 1)

The Brabourne Edition of Jane Austen's Letters at CUP (Vol 1)

The Brabourne Edition of Jane Austen's Letters at CUP (Vol 2)

Birds of Passage: Henrietta Clive's Travels in South India 1798-1801

Birds of Passage: Henrietta Clive's Travels in South India 1798-1801 edited by Nancy K Shields

Enterprising Women and Shipping in the 19th Century by Helen Doe

Enterprising Women and Shipping in the 19th Century by Helen Doe

Over a Red Hot Stove edited by Ivan Day

Over a Red Hot Stove edited by Ivan Day

Coke of Norfolk 1754-1843: A Biography

Coke of Norfolk 1754-1843: A Biography by Susanna Wade Martins

Georgian Jewellery 1714-1830

Georgian Jewellery 1714-1830 by Ginny Redington Dawes and Olivia Collings

Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain

Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain Edited by John Bonehill and Stephen Daniels

Silhouette: The Art of Shadow by Emma Rutherford

Silhouette: The Art of Shadow by Emma Rutherford

The Dress of the People by John Styles

The Dress of the People by John Styles

Behind Closed Doors by Amanda Vickery

Behind Closed Doors by Amanda Vickery

The Compleat Housewife by Eliza Smith, Chawton Edition

The Compleat Housewife by Eliza Smith, Chawton Edition

A New System of Domestic Cookery by Maria Rundell

A New System of Domestic Cookery by Maria Rundell

Austenonly Flickr

December 2010
M T W T F S S
« Nov   Jan »
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  
Protected by Copyscape plagiarism checker - duplicate content and unique article detection software.
Creative Commons License
This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.
UK Blog Directory
wordpress counter
%d bloggers like this: