Heroines of the Past, Regency Era 1811-1820

February 1, 2008, Published by Amy Puetz; P.O. Box 429; Wright, WY 82732

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The Regency Era is a time during England’s history when King George III was unfit to serve as king and his son, George August Frederick, ruled as regent. This era is best remembered because Jane Austen forever immortalized it in her literary novels. Although she wrote about everyday life, this era was also full of political unrest between France and nearly all of Europe. The Napoleonic Wars lasted from 1803-1814. Certainly these wars must have affected Jane’s life--she had two brothers who served in the Royal Navy--but her writing never reflected the turmoil of those times. Instead she wrote about what she knew, home life, relationships, and country living. Perhaps her wit is what has made her novels so beloved for nearly two hundred years. In this installment of Heroines of the Past we will meet Jane Austen and explore her world. Let’s get started!

Amy Puetz

Heroines of the Past
P.O. Box 429
Wright, WY 82732

Jane Austen (1775-1817)

By Reuben Post Halleck, 1900

Jane Austen was a quiet, sunny little woman, almost unmindful of the great world, who enlivened her father’s parsonage and wrote about the clergy, the old maids, the short-sighted mothers, the marriageable daughters, and other people that figured in village life. This cheery, sprightly young woman, whom her acquaintances never once suspected of the guilt of authorship, was Jane Austen, a daughter of the rector of Steventon, Hampshire.

The life of Jane Austen was simple, wholesome, unpretending, and happy. She possessed both wit and beauty, and was ready to enjoy any festivities, which her small world afforded. She was clever in turning out tales for her nephews and nieces and quick to seize upon the leading points in character. She studied carefully the folk about her, and she was one of the first of novelists to chronicle the lives of homely, commonplace people.

Pride and Prejudice is generally considered her best novel, although though Sense and Sensibility , Emma, and Mansfield Park all have their ardent admirers. The scenes of these stories are laid in small English towns, with which the author was thoroughly familiar, and the characters are taken from the middle class and the gentry.

There are no startling discoveries and mysterious secrets in her works. Simple domestic episodes and ordinary people, living somewhat monotonous and narrow lives, satisfy her, and she exhibits wonderful skill in fashioning these into slight but entertaining narratives. In Pride and Prejudice , for example, she creates some refreshing situations by opposing Mr. Darcy’s pride to Elizabeth Bennet’s prejudice, and manages the long-delayed reconciliation between these two lovers with a tact, which shows true genius, and knowledge of the human heart.

A strong feature of Jane Austen’s novels is her subtle, careful manner of drawing character. She perceives with an intuitive refinement the delicate shadings of emotion, and describes them with the utmost care and detail. Her heroines are especially fine, each one having an interesting individuality, thoroughly natural and womanly. The minor characters in Miss Austen’s works are usually quaint and original. She sees the oddities and foibles of people with the insight of the true humorist, and paints them with most dexterous cunning.

Walter Scott sums up Jane Austen’s chief characteristics when he says in his big-hearted way: "That young lady has a talent for describing the involvements of feelings and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The big bow-wow strain I can do myself, like any one going; but the exquisite touch which renders ordinary commonplace things and characters interesting from the truth of the description and the sentiment is denied to me. What a pity such a gifted creature died so early!"

Maidens of Virtue


By Rita Rice

Keep a notebook handy to write down your answers to the questions or to just jot down ideas that you want to remember.

I. What is Hospitality?
  1. The act or practice of receiving and entertaining guests without reward, and with kind and generous liberality - Webster’s 1828
    1. Romans 12: 10-13
    2. James 2: 15-17
    3. 1 Peter 4: 7-11, 2 Cor. 9: 7 (What should our motive be in offering hospitality?)
    4. Matt. 25:35-40, Col. 3:23
  2. Shunammite Hospitality (2 Kings 4:8-17)
    1. She made herself available
    2. By her concern and actions, she promoted the Word of God
    3. She respected her husband’s authority and leadership
    4. She discerned the degree of Elisha’s need and her responsibility to provide for him out of the abundance God had given her
    5. She seized the opportunity/Did not procrastinate
  3. What are some ways your family has shown hospitality?
"Courtesy is plain, old-fashioned thoughtfulness. What will make the other person more comfortable? Do for him what you would want done for you. Nobody is born thoughtful. We must all learn it." ~ Elisabeth Elliot

II. Mind Your Manners!
  1. Don’t be a distracted listener
    1. Look people in the eyes when speaking with them.
  2. Be courteous and respectful
    1. to those who are with you
    2. to those you may meet.
  3. Keep your volume down.
  4. When invited to a gathering, visit with many, not just a few.
  5. Do not interrupt ongoing conversation.(Prov. 18:13)
  6. Know when to speak and when not to speak.
    1. (Eccl.3:7)
    2. "Silence may often be misinterpreted, but it is never misquoted."
  7. Use words full of kindness, respect, gratitude and understanding.
    1. Col. 4:6
    2. Smile warmly!

A Maiden’s Mission
Think of some ways you can offer hospitality in your home. Practice "minding your manners" so that you may glorify God in all that you say and do!

About the author
Rita Rice has homeschooled her three children for the past 14 years. She has been involved in moderating several Bible study groups, including a group designed for mothers and daughters, "Maidens of Virtue." She enjoys reading Puritan literature and working in her flower garden.

Tea Time

By Annalisa Perry

"Julia! Come help me lace up my dress. Hurry! He’ll be here any minute," an impatient voice called down the hall.

With a sigh, Julia shut her book and hurried down the hall to Charlotte’s bedroom. Sixteen-year-old Charlotte was standing in front of the mirror in her petticoats and chemise, trying to fix her hair.

"Why can’t Mary or one of the servants help you?" Julia asked.

"They’re busy! Come on, William will be here any minute and I’m not even dressed!" Charlotte protested. Julia took the comb and coaxed it through Charlotte loose, tangled curls.

The Thomas family lived in a grand house in the middle of Winchester, in 1820. Julia Smith was their governess. Her job was to tutor Charlotte’s two younger sisters but many a time she ended up being Charlotte’s waiting maid as well. Julia’s family was not exactly poor but their resources were limited to the money Mr. Smith made as a coach driver and the money sixteen-year-old Julia made as a governess.

As soon as Charlotte’s hair was braided and coiled to perfection, on went the frilly silk dress and bonnet. There was a tap, tap, tap on the door and Mary stuck her head in and said, "If you please, ma’am, Master William’s here."

"Yes, I’m coming, Mary. Thank you, Julia. You can finish the lessons with the children now." With that Charlotte sailed out the door.

Julia hurried to the schoolroom where her bright-faced pupils awaited her. Instead of the usual lessons, she said, "Catharine, you practice at the pianoforte and Elizabeth, you work on your embroidery. I’ll be back in a few minutes."

Julia ran to her room, brushed and braided her long brown hair and pinned her amethyst brooch on her plain blue dress. Then she slipped downstairs.

Chatter and laughter came from the parlor. William was the Thomas’ most frequent visitor. He was a handsome young man of one and twenty with £3,000 a year to his name. Julia stopped outside the door for a moment. Charlotte seemed to be doing most of the talking.

"What are you doing?" Julia jumped at Mrs. Thomas’s voice. Mrs. Thomas was a gentle, motherly little woman who treated Julia like a daughter. Instead of scolding her, she too peered into the room.

". . .so we waited in the carriage for an hour but nobody came. . ." Charlotte was saying.

"Indeed?" William suppressed a yawn and tried to look interested.

"Aren’t those two sweet?" Mrs. Thomas whispered.

"Do you think he’s in love with her?" Julia asked anxiously.

Mrs. Thomas looked sharply at her governess.

"Do you fancy him?" she asked.

Julia blushed and didn’t answer.

Mrs. Thomas laid a hand on Julia’s shoulder. "He is a sweet young man. I do not know where his heart lies but he has a future to consider. His family would disown him if he married someone below his station."

"Yes, I know," Julia said miserably.

Mrs. Thomas studied her face and read determination in those clear blue eyes.

"Go upstairs and finish the children’s lessons now," she said gently.

Julia hurried upstairs. She was just in time. Catharine was butchering the sharps and flats while Elizabeth had several knots in her sampler. She had barely them straightened out when Mary stuck her head in the door and announced, "Tea time!"

Mr. Thomas was out so it was the oldest son, Charles, who carved the chicken. Charles was eighteen with curly red hair who rarely smiled. He was not boisterous--only selfish and very used to getting his way. By some unfortunate accident Julia was next to him while Charlotte and William were at the other end.

The minute grace had been said, Charlotte resumed the boring story she was telling William.

"I can’t find Ivanhoe," Charles protested to his mother.

"Perhaps it was moved from your room to the library," Mrs. Thomas said, pouring tea from the silver teapot.

"Well, I’m going to search high and low until I find it," Charles said.

Julia’s face was getting more and more flushed as this conversation progressed. With an effort she said, "Mr. Thomas, I believe you’ll find Ivanhoe in the school room."

"How on earth did it get there?" he demanded.

"I...I was reading it."

All conversation at the table ceased. At first Julia thought he was angry for taking the book but he smiled suddenly and said, "Do you like it?"

"Oh, yes!"

"Isn’t it rather confusing for a young lady of your position- all those knights, battles and disguises?" William actually interrupted Julia to ask.

"Oh, no! I think Rebecca is splendid."

"Rebecca! What about Rowena? She’s the main heroine, you know," William remarked as he was drawn into the conversation.

"On, no! Rebecca is the one with the character and backbone. Ivanhoe should marry her!"

"Why?" Charles asked, curiously.

"Because she’s the one who would sacrifice everything to make him happy."

There was a blank pause.

"Have you ever read A Midsummer Night’s Dream?" William asked.

"Oh, I’m reading Shakespeare aloud to Catharine and Elizabeth. I think it’s a beautiful story. But I feel so sorry for Helena because Lysander doesn’t love her."

"It seems you favor the underdog characters who are willing to fight for what they want," William raised an eyebrow.

"I do," Julia said.

At this point, Charlotte gave a yawn and said, "Pass the cake, please." She glared at Julia and broke in, "As I was saying, William, finally someone showed up with umbrellas to get us through the rain."

William was stuck listening to her for the rest of the meal. He would never stand up to anyone for something he wanted, Julia thought. Charles picked up the conversation with her and the two discussed King Lear, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet before another pot of tea was brought.

"Please, borrow from my library anytime you like," Charles said carelessly.

There is some unselfishness in him, Julia thought.

"Thank you, Mr. Thomas," Julia said.

"Charles," he corrected.

Then the conversation changed to some important news that Mrs. Thomas had learned, "Have you seen that the old Gandville house is for sale?" Mrs. Thomas asked. "You ought to think of buying that, Charlie."

"What, that broken down hovel?" Charles asked carelessly.

"Oh, it a lovely place," Julia said. "It so big and beautiful. And those white pillars in front and the rose garden and..."

The family all stared at her in astonishment.

"That place will collapse any time now," Charles said.

"I think it is a grand old place," William said quietly.

"You ought to take some of the money you spend on billiards and fix it up," Mrs. Thomas said.

"I’ll think on it," Charles said.

Then glancing at the clock, he announced, "Mama, I’ll be taking the carriage to Winchester this afternoon. My riding horse is lame."

"Oh, Charlie, couldn’t you wait until Papa gets back?" Mrs. Thomas asked. Charles poured himself a glass of wine and didn’t answer. "I promised the girls I would take them to town and let them pick out some new ribbons," she finished.

"Sorry, Mama, but I promised to meet my friends at the club at 1:00. Papa will be back before too long with the other carriage." And with that he sauntered out of the room.

"I would offer my carriage but I’ve unfortunately come on horseback," William said.

Mrs. Thomas sweetly thanked William for his kind offer and then excused herself left the room. "I should be going as well," William said.

"Will I see you at the ball next week?" he asked.

His glance went from Charlotte to Julia and back.

"Of course," Charlotte said, smiling at him.

"Perhaps," Julia said.

I had meant to tell you all of Julia’s story, about the dispute that broke out between Julia and Charlotte, how Julia was able to go to the ball and if she married Charles or William. Alas, I do not have the time now. But if one day you visit the village of Winchester and see a grand old place with stately white pillars in front, ask and see who lived there. For in the grand old days of long gowns, Ivanhoe and governesses, there Julia lived with her husband.

About the Author
Annalisa Perry lives in Georgia with her family. (She is the oldest of seven children.) Besides doing school and helping around the house, she loves to read and write stories. She has always been fascinated by history and she appreciates this opportunity to publish historic fiction.



I’ve Never Seen a Place so Happily Situated

Match the owner with his or her house. Answers are below.

A) Mr. Darcy
B) Mr. Woodhouse
C) Mr. & Mrs. Palmer
D) Mr. Bingley
E) Mr. Willoughby
F) Lord Middleton
G) Mr. Bertram
H) Lady Catherine de Bourgh
I) Mr. John Dashwood
J) Mr. Bennet

1) Hartfield
2) Netherfield
3) Cleveland
4) Norland Park
5) Mansfield Park
6) Rosings
7) Barton Park
8) Combe Magna
9) Longbourn
10) Pempberly

Recommended Websites

Planning a trip to England? Look at all the places you can visit that have to do with Jane Austen! Even if you aren’t planning a trip you will enjoy this informative site. Hampshir, England

Learn about the regency era at this site. From images to manners you will find it here. Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion

One of my all time favorite sites! Take a look for yourself and see why. www.sensibility.com

Purchase Jane Austen’s books

Purchase Jane Austen’s movies:
Sense and Sensibility
Pride and Prejudice

Purchase Jane Austen Posters
Jane Austen English Novelist
Jane Austen English Novelist Giclee Print
Buy at AllPosters.com

Was Jane Austen pretty?

By her nephew
James Edward Austen Leigh
From A Memoir of Jane Austen, 1871

"I will here attempt a description of her person, mind, and habits. In person she was very attractive; her figure was rather tall and slender, her step light and firm, and her whole appearance expressive of health and animation. In complexion she was a clear brunette with a rich color; she had full round cheeks, with mouth and nose small and well formed, bright hazel eyes, and brown hair forming natural curls close round her face. If not so regularly handsome as her sister, yet her countenance had a peculiar charm of its own to the eyes of most beholders. At the time of which I am now writing, she never was seen, either morning or evening, without a cap; I believe that she and her sister were generally thought to have taken to the garb of middle age earlier than their years or their looks required; and that, though remarkably neat in their dress as in all their ways, they were scarcely sufficiently regardful of the fashionable, or the becoming."

Answers to I’ve Never Seen a Place so Happily Situated

A-10, B-1, C-3, D-2, E-8, F-7, G-5, H-6, I-4, J-9

Copyright 2011 Amy Puetz, www.AmyPuetz.com