The Literary Governess: Depictions in Austen, Brontë, Thackeray, and Heyer

The Governess by Richard Redgrave, 1844.
The Governess by Richard Redgrave, 1844.

During the 19th century, a gently bred young lady with no fortune, no family, and no prospects had few options for making her way in the world.  She might hire herself out as a companion, of course.  Or if she was particularly adept with a needle, she might take in a bit of sewing.  Both were respectable, genteel occupations for a lady down on her luck and, as such, both are well-represented in historical novels.  However, despite the undoubted romantic appeal of the penniless companion and the impoverished seamstress, neither position provides the wealth of literary possibilities inherent in the role of governess.[…]Continue Reading

Miniature Portraits in the Works of Radcliffe, Austen, Brontë, and Dickens

Princess Helena by Anton Hähnisch, 1861. (Royal Trust Collection.)
Princess Helena by Anton Hähnisch, 1861.
(Royal Trust Collection.)

Miniature portraits first appeared in England during the 16th century.  Small, portable, and easily displayed or concealed on one’s person, their popularity flourished – both in life and in literature.  By the 19th century, their presence in romance novels and Gothics was practically de-rigueur.

Ann Radcliffe uses miniatures to great effect in several of her novels, including The Mysteries of Udolfo (1794) and The Italian (1797).  In the following passage from The Italian, we get a glimpse of the enormous dramatic impact a miniature can have if produced at the right moment in the story.[…]Continue Reading

Austen, Heyer, and Pugs featured at A Covent Garden Gilflurt's Guide to Life!

Permission Details This is a faithful photographic reproduction of a two-dimensional, public domain work of art. The work of art itself is in the public domain for the following reason: The copyright of this work has expired.  This work is in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less. To the best of my knowledge, this file has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights.

My article Austen, Heyer, and the Prince of Orange: Pugs in Literature and History is featured today on A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life.  It is one of my most popular articles as well as one of my own personal favorites.  I hope you will stop by and leave a comment!  While you are there, have a look around at some of the other fascinating and well-researched articles on Georgian history.  From art, music, and literature to personal profiles, politics, and the military, Catherine Curzon and her distinguished salon guests have the Georgian era completely covered!

Adaptations and Accuracy: Literary Favorites from Page to Screen

“If, however, your feelings have changed, I will have to tell you, you have bewitched me body and soul, and I love…I love….I love you.”
(Pride and Prejudice, 2005.)

 Photograph: Focus Features.
Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen as Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, 2005.
Photograph: Focus Features.

If you are a serious, literary-minded Jane Austen fan, it may raise your blood pressure a bit to learn that there are many people who believe the above quote was actually said by Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice.  Similarly, there are those who are convinced that the famous scene where Darcy leaps into the lake at Pemberley is an accurate depiction of something that Austen wrote on the page.  In fact, as most of you reading this will know, the above lines are said by actor Matthew Macfadyen in the 2005 movie version of Pride and Prejudice and the scene with Darcy in the lake is enacted by Colin Firth in the 1995 BBC miniseries.  Neither scene is in the book.[…]Continue Reading

The Character of Cats: Depictions in Georgian and Regency Literature

Un Chat Angora by Jean-Jacques Bachelier, (1724–1806).
Un Chat Angora by Jean-Jacques Bachelier, (1724–1806).

As popular a pet as cats are in modern day households, it was the dog that dominated the home and hearth of the 18th and early 19th century.  Cats had their admirers, of course, amongst whom were such literary luminaries as Samuel Johnson and Lord Byron, but in general, their primary value lay in their ability to keep the premises free from vermin.

[…]Continue Reading

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