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Learning resources from INTO UEA

Men wore corsets (part 1): questions

Click on the words or phrases in the article that answer these questions:

  1. What will a picture of Jane Austen be displayed on?
  2. Is publicity about the author increasing or decreasing?
  3. How much financial expertise did she possess?
  4. Where were many people moving to?
  5. What leisure activity caused rich people financial problems?
  6. How much more money would Austen’s hero have required every year?
  7. What part of the body did both sexes try to modify?
  8. What clothes were considered usual?

With Jane Austen confirmed as the next face of England’s ten-pound note and yet another Austen-themed film on the way, the global phenomenon surrounding the novelist shows no signs of abating. At a recent seminar Sandra Lerner covered the life and times of Jane Austen. Below, dear readers, are some of the insights she had to offer:

Jane Austen didn’t have a clue about money. She wrote during the Regency era (1775-1817), when England was in the throes of the Industrial Revolution, mass rural-to-urban migration, and transition from a barter to a cash economy. People from all walks of life struggled to adjust to the new paradigm. The wealthy, who had no concept of cash, took to gambling and often accrued astronomical debts. Jane Austen lived in the country, where the subject of money was still strictly taboo, and the fuzzy figures in her novels reflect her financial ignorance. According to Lerner, Mr Darcy’s income of £10,000 a year was grossly unrealistic for a time when even a politician like Charles Fox held more than £100,000 in debt. Lerner estimates that Darcy would have needed an income of at least ten times as much to manage both his London house and his Pemberley estate.

Men wore corsets. Gentlemen as well as ladies shaped their waists in the Regency era. Ladies’ corsets were relatively forgiving, providing lift rather than Victorian-era constriction.

Pants were the latest in men’s fashion and would have been considered outré in Jane Austen’s social circle. Breeches and stockings were still the norm in the country.