Shields Gazette website:
'Discover the grim reality of Jane Austen’s England
In fact, the smells and tastes would probably
make us sick; go far enough back, and we wouldn’t even be able to
understand our own language.
So while period dramas are
seductive on the telly, in reality, returning to, say, the turn of the
19th century may mean that your false teeth could have been taken from a
dead soldier, face powder turns your skin brown, or even black, and
surgery is carried out without anaesthetic.
I’ve just had a tooth out, a Regency-era remedy for toothache – using a
hot wire driven into an aching tooth to kill the nerve – makes me wince.
would, then, need something like A Visitor’s Guide to Jane Austen’s
England, which chaperones you across the social, health etc minefields
of what could feel, in effect, like a foreign country.
that it’s even the terrain of the working man. The world Austen moved
in bordered the middle/upper class, so there is the treatment of
servants to consider, and how to keep up with fashion – “What wicked
people dyers are” – dyeing a dress being one way of recycling your
A dance at a ball or an assembly hall is the
best, approved way to meet the opposite sex. Once married, though,
having separate rooms may be your only form of contraception. Jane
Austen’s sister-in-law, Elizabeth, had 10 children before the age of 35,
when she died in childbirth.
It all makes for an
entertaining read and is charmingly illustrated with contemporary
images, including the work of hilarious caricaturist Gillray'.
There's also another lovely review here on the Heritage Traveller website.