The scenes, the clothing, the country life, all looks so appealing in England in 1796, the era of Jane Austen.
And though I have the movie, Sense and Sensibility, it is the above version of Pride and Prejudice that I love. Even my husband and son enjoy it. And yet, when I began looking in to what life was really like in Jolly Ole England, as you hear it said in the old movies, the picture wasn't so appealing. In fact, it was down right harsh. Not only did woman during this period have few rights but for the masses, survival was an every day struggle.
There was a big distinction between the haves and the have nots and the masses had not. The Craftsmen and the labourers lived in 2 or 3 room houses. There furniture was plain, not upholstered. No Chipandale furniture to sit on or fancy James Cox clocks to hang on the wall. And meat seldom graced their tables, especially in winter for most of the stock was killed in the fall because of the lack of feed to carry them through. The main table fair was bread, butter, potatoes, and tea. Yum, well maybe not but it filled an empty stomach and most were glad to get that much for half the population lived at subsistence or bare survival level.
And as I thought of myself, had I lived during this era, one of those living at subsistence level would be me.
But times were changing and a industrial revolution was taking place with water powered and steam powered mechanization coming into production. Yet, though the reality of life during 1796 was difficult, I still can't help romanticizing the era. The soulistic scenery, the clothing styles, the... the..., I know it was only for the rich but in our fantacies aren't we always more wealthy than we really are? So I say, keep dreaming, the picture is always so much more beautiful.
In my Jane Austen scenes, the girls are knitting and spinning, not embroidering. I know, I know, in the movie they are embroidering and maybe the really rich embroidered because the had someone else knitting and spinning, but anyone but the really rich surely were knitting and spinning themselves. Besides, I'd rather knit and spin anyday over embroider. Plus, having snooped into history before, I know that it wasn't food (since there wasn't very much), or housecleaning (since there wasn't much of a house to clean) that took up the womens time. It was clothing construction that filled their days and evenings. Yes, I'm sure those wheels flew, looms thumped, and the knitting needles clicked trying to keep up with making socks, hats, shirt, pants, bedding etc.
There must have been a shortage because in neighboring Ireland, the government was giving land owners who planted their field into flax, spinning wheels and looms depending on the number of acres.
As I think of our local grocery store, the shelves heaping with products, the new yarn I bought for knitting socks, and the smaller, three bedroom home we own, I truly feel blessed.
If you are curious about society in 1976 check out these links below
I bet you are wondering what's all this talk is about Jane Austen? Well, the new Jane-Austen-Knits on line version just came out and I'm in it. Okay, not exactly me but one of my project bags is. Which reminds me, I've got to get those bags re-photographed.
How does one get it all done in the springtime? I'll bet your To Do list is longer than my arms too. But, between chores outside and those inside, take a break and check out the new Jane Austen knits along with the following blog and news. Of course I have to say this, especially check out what they have to say about my project bag. I can't wait to see myself.
To learn more about this issue,http://www.khttp://www.knittingdaily.com/blogs/traditions_today/archive/2012/05/08/jane-austen-knits.aspx