Tag Archives: Jane Austen by Brian Wilkes

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

Jane Austen Era Hats and Bonnets


“The cartoonist’s view of a lady’s hat shop. Jane and her sister Cassandra spent much time shopping and keeping in touch with changes in fashion, and Jane’s letters record many shopping excursions.”


“Silk drawn or poke bonnet, ca. 1815 – 1840
Bonnets like this one were stylish up to 1840, although the brim’s shape varid somewhat. This bonnet measurs 13″ from back to front; the brim measures 8″ from the crown to it’s edge. $600 – 1,000.00”


“London head-dresses of around 1800. There is much talk of hats in Jane Austen’s letters. Top cenre in this illustration is the ‘Marmeluke cap’ which became fashionable after Nelson’s victory at the Battle of the Nile. Jane Austen’s letters tell us that she wore such a cap at Lord Portsmouth’s Ball. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.”

Ackerman's Repository fashion plate, 1818

Cartoonist’s drawing of a hat shop and the sketch of London headresses are from “Jane Austen” by Brian Wilks, 1978.

All other photos in this post are from “Vintage Hats & Bonnets 1770 – 1970” by Susan Langley, 1998.

Related posts:
Jane Austen Era Straw Bonnets
Annotated Progression of Ladies Fashion, 1785 – 1820

Fashion Contrasts: 1770 and 1815
Annotated Jane Austen

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Filed under 1800s, Books, England, Fashion, Femininity, Hats, History, Jane Austen