Jessamyn's Regency Costume Companion: Fabrics



Jane Austen: In Style by Susan Watkins (1996, 224 pp.).
This delightful book discusses the houses, clothes, parties, food, and so on of Jane Austen's world. Includes many wonderful period paintings and prints, in color.

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist--The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England by Daniel Pool.
This book, while tending to lump all nineteenth-century facts together, has lots of interesting and useful facts (such as the rules for whist) and is very easy to read.

The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England: From 1811-1901 by Kristine Hughes (February 1998, 240 pp.).
This is part of the Writer's Guide to Everday Life Series; I own the Renaissance England version, and it's great. Chapter-by-chapter details on things like religion, family, hygiene, money, and more.

Jane Austen's World by Maggie Lane (1997, 144 pp.).
Subtitled "The Life and Views of England's Most Popular Author," this book takes a look at the society in which Austen lived. A review at Amazon says it "is an excellent book for any Jane Austen fan - whether you're just starting to learn about Austen or you're already a seasoned fan. I particularly appreciated the sections on the English government and monarchy of the time...It is very approchable and easy to read. The format of the entire book is interesting and inviting."

The World of Jane Austen by Nigel Nicolson; photos by Stephen Colover.
I believe that this is a reprint of The World of Jane Austen: Her Houses in Fact and Fiction. I don't really know anything about the book, but the fact that there's such a prominent photography credit implies that it's full of beautiful photos like the very attractive one on the cover.

Jane Austen's England by Maggie Lane.
Amazon's reviewer says, "Maggie Lane explores Austen's encounters with Britain's countryside and towns, from her home in north Hampshire to Oxford to Portsmouth. Lane records Austen's journeys and stays - quoting extensively from her letters and novels - but her book is also an activist manifesto...Through poems, prints, and paintings of the period, Lane evokes England's natural and man-made beauties - though always in service of a larger aim - setting the stage for Austen's life and art."

In Jane Austen's Christmas: The Festive Season in Georgian England, Maria Hubert reveals "not only the most interesting and hitherto hidden aspects of the Christmasses celebrated by the whole Austen family, but also the customs that eighteenth-century people observed, most of them having been handed down in undisturbed continuation from earlier times. In this book you will see that the customs went underground but remained solid traditions celebrated by all who wished to do so!"


Family, Sex and Marriage in England 1500-1800 by Lawrence Stone (July 1986).
This, I hear, is pretty heavy reading, but an excellent source of information and very interesting. Of course, it covers much that is pre-Regency, but I think it's very interesting to see how things developed into the period one's interested in--find out what was recent history for the people of Austen's time and shaped what became fashionable for them.

My Dear Cassandra: The Letters of Jane Austen by Penelope Hughes-Hallett, Jane Austen. (This book is out of print, but Amazon will try to find you a copy.)
This is a wonderful book that I highly recommend. Containing only a highly selective sampling of Austen's letters to her sister Cassandra, it's also full of wonderful paintings and prints illustrating the people and fashions of Austen's life.

Jane Austen's Letters edited by Dierdre LeFay (672 pp.).
Austen's letters are wonderful because they have so much everyday life in them; they're full of little details about clothes and events that make it all seem very real. And of course, Jane was very funny, very touching, and very perceptive by turns.

A Governess in the Age of Jane Austen: The Journals and Letters of Agnes Porter, edited by Joanna Martin (1998).
This book looks absolutely fascinating and I'm looking forward to getting a copy myself.

The Sense & Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries by Emma Thompson (288 pp.), available in softcover and hardcover.
This is a big kick to read, complete with complaints about being squashed by one's period corset and the struggles to use period sheep in the production. It also has photos, both movie stills and behind-the-scenes shots. Great fun, and some costume close-ups.

The Jane Austen Cookbook by Maggie Black and Deirdre Le Faye (1995).
As the blurb says, "Literature meets cuisine in this celebration of the meals and manners of Jane Austen and her literary characters. A selection of this family fare, thoroughly tested and modernized for today's cooks, is recreated here, from Vegetable Pie and Herb Pudding to Gooseberry Vinegar and Ginger Beer. Illustrated throughout." Maggie Black has quite a few cookbooks to her credit, and the recipes here may not suit your everyday table but offer a chance to bring a Regency dinner to life.

Jane Austen and the English Landscape by Mavis Batey (1996).
I don't have any information about this book, unfortunately, but it seems interesting. Austen enthusiastically describes various landscapes in her novels, and they obviously were an important part of her world and are important in thinking about what Regency life was like.

The Portable Romantic Poets, edited by W.H. Auden and Norman Holmes Pearson (paperback).
An anthology of the great poets from the Regency period, this book brings you the best of the romantics, from the tragically short-lived Keats to the mystical Blake. People in the early nineteenth century read poetry the way modern people listen to CDs of angst-filled singer-songwriters. (Think of Persuasion, where the young man whose fiance has died slumps around reading and rereading morbid poetry. It's the Regency version of locking yourself in your room and listening to Pink Floyd over and over.)

The Wearing of Costume: The Changing Techniques of Wearing Clothes and How to Move in Them, from Roman Britain to the Second World War by Ruth M. Green (184 pp.)
Learn how to look right in your clothes! People in previous centuries didn't just dress differently - they moved differently, the result of different aesthetics and a lifetime spent in garments totally different from ours.



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