Category Archives: Jane Austen

The English Calendar Holidays

Cross of St. George


Terribly confusing to be reading along in Austen or Dickens or even Miss Read, and come into a passage describing something happening in Michaelmas Term.

Boxing Day is a little more familiar, but still kind of wispy or vague to most Americans.

Hence, some lists for quick reference. It may be helpful to others; certainly it will be for me.

Reference guide for older literature

Twelfth Night January 5
Epiphany January 6
Plough Monday First Monday after Epiphany
Hilary Term (law courts) Begins in January
Hilary Term (Cambridge) Begins in January
Hilary Term (Oxford) Begins in January
Candlemas February 2

Lady Day (a quarter day) March 25
Easter Term (Oxford)
Easter Term (Cambridge)
Easter In March or April
Easter Term (law courts) Begins after Easter
Ascension 40 days after Easter
Whitsunday (Pentecost) 50 days after Easter
May Day May 1

Midsummer(a quarter day) June 24
Trinity Term (law term) Begins after Whitsunday
Trinity Term (Oxford) Begins in June
Lammas (Loaf Mass) August 1

Michaelmas (a quarter day) September 29
Michaelmas Term Begins in October
Michaelmas Term Begins in November
All Hallows, All Saints November 1
All Souls November 2
Guy Fawkes Day November 5
Martinmas November 11

Christmas (a quarter day) December 25
Boxing Day Generally first week after Christmas
~~
“Term” refers to both academic and court sessions. Session was the preferred word after 1873 for the court.

Quarter days were the beginning day for a quarterly commitment for a labor contract or rent.

Modern Calendar Public Holidays
New Year’s Day January 1
Good Friday variable
Easter Monday variable
May Day Bank Holiday 1st Monday in May (formerly Whit Monday until 1971)
Spring Bank Holiday Last Monday in May
Late Summer Bank Holiday Last Monday in August
Christmas Day December 25
Boxing Day December 26

~~
St. Andrew’s Day, honoring the patron saint of Scotland is an official holiday in Scotland and is celebrated on November 30.

However, St. George’s Day (honoring the patron saint of England) is not an official bank holiday, but celebrated by patriotic English citizens. Wikipedia says: “The date of St George’s day changes when it is too close to Easter. According to the Church of England’s calendar, when St George’s Day falls between Palm Sunday and the Second Sunday of Easter inclusive, it is moved to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter.”

Information was gathered from the book “What Jane Austen At and Charles Dickens Knew” by Daniel Pool and this Wikipedia article on English Holidays.

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Filed under 1800s, Books, England, Holidays, Jane Austen, Jane Austen, Reference

Dancing Jane Austen Style


(Click on image to enlarge)

The dances described in “Pride and Prejudice” are described as being glorified square dances, “in which three or more couples, the men and women in separate lines some four feet apart, facing one another, danced their way through a series of figures.

A figure was merely a sequence of movements, like those in square dances in which men and ladies opposite one another advanced and then retreated, or locked arms and swung around, or do-si-doed (from the French dos-a-dos), or wove their way through the other dancers.”

“Quadrille – Originally a card game played by four people with forty cards that was the fashionable predecessor of whist. Also, the dance that became popular in the mid-century, which had five figures, or sets of movements. It was basically a slowed-down square dance, involving four couples who started from the four points of an imaginary diamond. Even couples who started from the four points of an imaginary diamond. Even by the mid-century the dance had slowed down practically to a walk. It was used as the lead-off dance at almost all dances and balls, the waltz and the polka following.”

The Sir Roger de Coverley, although common in Dickens literature was mentioned as early as 1695. It is defined as: “A jolly type of country dance used to finish off dances and popular at Christmas. It involved the first man and last lady and last man and first lady from two lines of parallel men and women swinging out and then back, then swinging round, then weaving their way through the lines and then promenading, etc. The dance is known in the United States as the Virginia Reel.”


Excerpts are from “What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew – from Fox Hunting to Whist~the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England” by Daniel Pool (1993).

The illustration of The Five Positions of Dancing is from the book “Jane Austen” by Brian Wilkes.

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Filed under 1800s, Books, Dancing, England, Fashion, History, Jane Austen, Jane Austen

Brock Illustrations of Jane Austen Books

Charles Edmund Brock and his brother Henry Matthew Brock illustrated Jane Austen’s books in the early years of the 20th century.

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Filed under 1800s, Books, Fashion, Jane Austen

Fashion Contrasts: 1770 and 1815

DK Costume Book by Rowland-Warne

Vintage Hats & Bonnets by Langley

Apparently it’s not a particularly modern practice for fashion designers to make yesterday’s clothing look dated and outmoded.

Even though the time gap (from the 1770s – 1815) shown here spans 45 years, the changes were huge. It’s doubtful that many women would be wearing the same apparel for all those years (despite the superior quality of fabric then as opposed to now), but it is possible that women who wore the 18th century styles when they were young may not have wanted to change with the times and would have looked extremely outdated even to a casual observer.

Albeit that we are discussing clothing, a comment about hair styles comes to mind. I read once that a hairdresser said he could tell within 5 years when a woman graduated from high school by her hair and makeup – no matter her age.

The difference in hair styles between 1770 and 1815 were at least as striking as the change in clothing: from massive powdered wigs to ringlets and close to the head buns.

Guild Hall, Windsor


The DK Costume book by L. Rowland-Warne was one that I bought in 1999 in Windsor. Every Sunday morning vendors were set up under the portico at the front of the Guild Hall – built around 1687 under the direction of Sir Thomas Fitz then Sir Christopher Wren. There were a couple of book sellers and I was able to get this costume book from one and a vintage Penguin Agatha Christie novel from another.

Vintage Hats & Bonnets by Susan Langley was bought on a trip to Massachusetts a few years ago. While Joe attended a class for his job, I drove over to Lowell and had an absolutely marvelous time at a hat exhibit at the American Textile Museum. Well worth the time if you’re ever in the area.

Fashion Museum, Bath


V & A


The V&A was the museum which Mr. Thackeray’s (Sidney Poitier) class went to for their field trip in To Sir, With Love. Remember the girls in their mini-skirts looking at the wide-skirted dresses?


At the Museum of Costume in Bath (in 2007 the name was changed to Fashion Museum) and then at the Fashion exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum, we saw the false hips that women wore under their dresses to make their hips so broad.

No, I can’t imagine it either.

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Filed under 1700s, 1800s, Antiques/Vintage, Clothing, Dresses (Including Formals), Ephemera, Events & Museums, Fashion, Femininity, Hairstyles, Hats, History, Jane Austen, Jane Austen, Shoes

Annotated Jane Austen

In years past, I’ve read Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Northanger Abbey. Her other books (Emma, Persuasion and Sense and Sensibility) I’m familiar with only through films.

But this summer, I’m in kind of a Jane Austen mood, and so am attempting to read the volumes I’ve neglected and possibly re-read the others. I decided to begin with Persuasion.
Grapevine Public Library has several different copies, and I was pleased to find that one is annotated and illustrated.

Front of the bookmark


One of the drawbacks of reading on my own (not in a bookclub) is the inability to share and explore with others the joys and frustrations of a story or an author or a subject. The annotations relieve this somewhat.

Oh, how I’d love to be in a Cozy Bookclub.

In person.

With nice cups of tea and biscuits.

Back of the bookmark


For now I will have to content myself with my hand-made Jane Austen bookmark and lots of sidenotes.

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Filed under Bookmarks, Books, Cozy, Crafts - Paper, England, Femininity, Fiction, Jane Austen, Jane Austen, Tea