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A Visitor's Guide to Jane Austen's England (Paperback)

Social History Georgian Era

By Sue Wilkes
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 184
ISBN: 9781781592649
Published: 22nd October 2014

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£12.99


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Immerse yourself in the vanished world inhabited by Austen's contemporaries. Packed with detail, and anecdotes, this is an intimate exploration of how the middle and upper classes lived from 1775, the year of Austen's birth, to the coronation of George IV in 1820. Sue Wilkes skilfully conjures up all aspects of daily life within the period, drawing on contemporary diaries, illustrations, letters, novels, travel literature and archives.

• Were all unmarried affluent men really 'in want of a wife?'
• Where would a young lady seek adventures?
• Would 'taking the waters' at Bath and other spas kill or cure you?
• Was Lizzy Bennet bitten by bed-bugs while travelling?
• What would you wear to a country ball, or a dance at Almack's?
• Would Mr Darcy have worn a corset?
• What hidden horrors lurked in elegant Regency houses?

Sue Wilkes simply takes you by the hand and walks you through Jane Austen’s world. A thoroughly engaging – and very informative – ‘eye-witness’ guide to everything from medical matters to modes of travel.

Joceline Bury, Jane Austen's Regency World

Wilkes' "A Visitor's Guide to Jane Austen's England" is an essential addition to any lover of history and/or fine literature's bookshelves. Packed with detail and interesting quotes from Austen, her characters, and their contemporaries, along with explanations of the origins of common sayings we use now, Wilkes does an excellent job of highlighting the similarities and differences between England as I know it and the complicated and highly aromatic home of my ancestors. Thoroughly recommended!

Gill Hoffs, author of 'The Sinking of RMS Tayleur'

As seen on historicalhoney.com

Historical Honey

Sue Wilkes plunges the reader straight into the delights and terrors of travelling around Georgian England in this well-researched and informative book. Her presentation is immediate and energetic.
Writing in the style of a practical guidebook, Wilkes simply takes you by the hand and walks you through Jane Austen's world. A thoroughly engaging - and very informative - 'eye-witness' guide to everything from medical matters to modes of travel.

Jane Austen's Regency World

Sue Wilkes' engaging, conversational style, and choice of topics / anecdotes made me see the Regency world in a fresh way - one that reminded me of how strikingly similar the people and societal concerns of the1800s are to those in the 21st century. ... A perfect gift for every Janeite friend and family member.

Austen Prose website

As seen in the South Wales Guardian.

South Wales Guardian

Sue Wilkes provides an unusual perspective on the world of Austen's novels, uncovering the often unromantic truths behind the genteel façade. Offering a sensory review of this era in all its sights, sounds and smells, this title will appeal to both seasoned social history fans, costume drama lovers, history students and anyone with an interest in Jane Austen or the Regency period.

Antiques Diary

An entertaining read...charmingly illustrated with contemporary images.

Shields Gazette

This is an ingenious volume. The author, who has written extensively on social history and on genealogy, provides us with a detailed guide book to the habits, facilities, sights and values of Southern England in the early 19th century. Her walk-through of the territory is attractively supported by extensive quotations from the works of Jane Austen herself and from contemporaries.
The text is lively and well arranged and the anecdotes relevant and illuminating. This is a book which Janites will enjoy and which will provide an informative context to the novels.

Federation of Family History Societies.

They'll find out how to dress for a country ball, or a dance at Almack's (a famous London Club). They'll also discover the hidden horrors inside those elegant Georgian houses, and the perils of travelling in Austen's day.

Writer's News

An entertaining and fascinating book.

Your Family Tree

A delightful book where the author leads the reader through a long lost world that has been immortalized in the writing of Jane Austen.

Firetrench

The author skilfully conjures up all aspects of daily life within the period, drawing on contemporary diaries, illustrations, letters, novels, travel literature and archives.

Julian Stockwin, author of the Silk Tree

This is an ingenious volume. The author, who has written extensively on social history and on genealogy, provides us with a detailed guide book to the habits, facilities, sights and values of Southern England in the early 19th century. Her walk-through of the territory is attractively supported by extensive quotations from the works of Jane Austen herself and from other contemporaries. The author comments that ‘ Austen’s observations of society were exceptionally astute ( though she was not infallible).’

The whole gamut of middleclass society is covered from domestic details (candlelight and privies) through travel (phaetons, barouches and stagecoaches ) to fashionable life in London ( Beau Brummell and dandies ). Perhaps the most interesting section deals with the etiquette (and pressure) to find a suitable marital partner, but as the author observes, ‘ It’s a man’s world’. Or as Jane herself describes it; ‘ Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance.’

The text is lively and well arranged and the anecdotes relevant and illuminating. There is a selection of contemporary engravings, an extensive bibliography and a useful summary of Jane’s life. This is a book which Janeites will enjoy and which will provide an informative context to the novels.

Federation of Family History Societies

Wilkes makes the world of Jane Austen come to life, and shows what it was like for the middle classes of England during the author's lifetime, from travel to fashion, shopping, leisure, and, of course, finding a mate.

The book is illustrated with some wonderfully engaging illustrations from period journals, plus engravings of Jane Austen, her childhood home in Steventon, and Chawton church in Hampshire where her mother and sister are buried.

The book ends with a useful biography of Jane Austen and a timeline of her life, historical events, and literary works.

A Visitors Guide to Jane Austen's England is a delight. I don't think I've ever read a book that paints such a vivid picture of daily life in late 18th and early 19th century England. It makes a perfect companion for Austen's beloved novels; its the sort of book you can refer to for research or simply dive into at random to immerse yourself in the England that Austen knew.

Read the fantastic full review at Britain Express

Britain Express
 Sue Wilkes

About Sue Wilkes

Sue Wilkes is an established expert on our industrial heritage and a well-known family historian. She has contributed many articles to history and family history magazines, including BBC Who Do You Think You Are?, BBC History, Discover Your Ancestors, Your Family Tree, and Jane Austen’s Regency World.



Sue is the author of eight books: Regency Spies (Pen & Sword, 2015), A Visitor’s Guide to Jane Austen’s England (Pen & Sword, 2014), Tracing Your Ancestors’ Childhood (Pen & Sword, 2013), Tracing Your Lancashire Ancestors (Pen & Sword, 2012), The Children History Forgot (Robert Hale, 2011), Tracing Your Canal Ancestors (Pen & Sword, 2011), Regency Cheshire (Robert Hale, 2009) and Narrow Windows, Narrow Lives: The Industrial Revolution in Lancashire (History Press, 2008).

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