I am sure that most of you are aware of the existence of a pelisse which may have been the property of Jane Austen and is now in the care of the Hampshire Museums Service.


“Jane Austen’s Pelisse” ©Hampshire Country Council

This rather beautiful article of clothing, with its very appropriate decoration for Jane Austen of oak leaves, has recently been the subject of intensive study by Hilary Davidson of the University of Southampton. She has written an article about it, entitled Reconstructing Jane Austen’s Silk Pelisse, 1812-14. This is the first ever intensive study of the coat, and I would love to be able to read it. Here is her summary of what the article has to say:

This article explores the physical qualities and historical contexts of the silk pelisse coat dated c. 1812–1814 associated with Jane Austen (1775–1817) through family provenance and now held by Hampshire County Museum Services and Archives. The author took an exact pattern of the pelisse (included), then made replica garments. The association with Jane Austen is considered using evidence from Austen’s letters about her tastes in colours, length of fabrics needed for clothing, and ownership of a silk pelisse. The silk’s oak-leaf pattern is interpreted as a British patriotic motif, especially during the period of Napoleonic conflicts. Questions and insights arising from the process of reproduction are discussed, and the pelisse is compared to other surviving garments, and to contemporary fashionable images. As evidence suggests the pelisse probably did belong to Austen, her physical characteristics that can be gleaned from the garment are compared with information about Austen’s appearance.

Sounds fascinating, doesn’t it? It truly does. No doubt, dear reader, you would like to read it too…..but…as it is an academic article, unless you have access to it via an expensive subscription, ( £24 for a 24 hour pass) this won’t be possible. But…a light now shines for us at the end of the tunnel for, in a rather inspired move, Hilary Davidson is trying to raise the necessary funds( £500 or $800 US) to allow the article to be made freely accessible to all.

The author has to pay the sum of £550 to the publishers for the article to be made available via open access online. So she is trying to raise the relatively modest sum via her crowdfunding page which you can access here

A donation of just £2 / $2.95 will give you a PDF copy of the article the day it is published, sent directly to your inbox. If you would like to contribute more, a £10 / $15 donation will also get you an exclusive 15x15cm / 4×4 inch sample of the reproduction pelisse fabric being made by specialist firm Whitchurch Silk Mill, which I wrote about here. Do note that the silk has no fixed production date as yet so will take a little longer to arrive.

As I write £181 of the total £550 has been pledged, and there are 53 days left to raise the remainder. Please can I ask you to contribute to this cause, for by pledging a very modest amount of money the article could be available to all, a wonderful notion I am sure you will all agree.

I’ve pledged, and I hope the total is raised for a successful outcome to this request. I will keep you all up to date, I promise. ;)