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What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew

Daniel Pool, "What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist -- The Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England"
Simon & Schuster | 1993 | ISBN: 0671793373 | siPDF | 416 pages | 10 MB

Dozens of short essays provide a panoramic view of British life during the nineteenth century, including information on social niceties, definitions of British phrases, and details about sex, government, law, money, and social institutions.

From Publishers Weekly
Devotees of Austen, Dickens, the Brontes and the like will enjoy this overview of everyday English life in the era depicted by that nation's greatest novelists. As an aid for readers of vintage fiction, Pool, a lawyer turned freelance writer, has compiled more than 60 short chapters that cover the public, private and "grim" aspects of life in 19th-century England, appending a long glossary and a bibliography. Beyond his lucid presentation of the historical facts, Pool offers a series of intriguing narratives: tracing the evolution of the hunt, for example, and explaining the persistence of grave robbers. Frequent references to well-known novels help elucidate institutions, customs and practices that have for the most part lapsed into obscurity. At times, these constant examples become monotonous; but fans of the English novel, even if they have a low tolerance for secondhand Trollope, will want to have this useful volume at hand.

From Library Journal
This guide to daily life in 19th-centuryEngland is a welcome companion for readers of Austin, the Brontes, Dickens, and Trollope. The first section is a collection of engrossing short chapters on various aspects of British life, including clothing, etiquette, marriage, money, occupations, society, and transportation. For example, customs now lost but very much practiced at the time were primogeniture, which ensured that the great family houses would not be split up, and the avoidance of eating cheese by the middle class, who considered it a food for the poor. The second part of the book is a glossary of commonly used words or phrases that may be unfamiliar to the modern reader; for instance, tar was a colloquial name for a sailor. Although there are many books on the social history of 19th-century Britain (including several companions to Victorian fiction), this volume is useful because of its concise chapters and lengthy glossary. Recommended for general literature collections.

From Kirkus Reviews
An eccentric collection of brief essays (plus a glossary) that explains not the facts but the fictions of English life, as they were represented by writers such as Hardy, Trollope, Dickens, and Jane Austen. To provide an understanding of the life portrayed in 19th- century English novels, Pool focuses primarily on economic and social issues; the era's money, calendar (holidays, terms, reigns), and measurements; and geography. The ``public world'' of the era, he explains, consisted of titles, forms of address, various ranks in status and the etiquette associated with them, dinner parties, card games, presentations at court, social ``seasons,'' and balls- -from whom to invite to what to wear, to why wax dripping from overhead chandeliers on to guests was perilous. Pool--often sounding like the annotator of a Jane Austen text--explains the country-house visit; the contemporary definition of wealth; ways to protect one's estate--or to lose it; Parliament; the Church; the navy; universities; law, lawyers, and criminals. A section on ``transition'' discusses the roles of horses, coaches, railroads, and the mail, and is followed by essays on country life (hunting, farms, fairs) and on domesticity (marriage, sex, divorce, furniture, lighting, bathing, food--including puddings, oysters, and gruel--and drink, fashion, and servants). Pool winds up with the ``grim world'' of orphans, work, poverty, disease, and death, while a glossary explains names such as Wellington and Westminster, and terms such as ``wet nurse'' and ``whalebone.'' Not history per se but a period piece--a reproduction of the idealizations and stereotypes that appeared in fiction, many of which were well explained in context. Superficial but charming--in effect, a handbook on how to live as if one were a character in a 19th-century English novel.



Part One

The Basics

The Calendar
Hogsheads and Drams: English Measurement

The Public World

Precedence: Of Bishops, Barristers, and Baronets
The Titled
How to Address Your Betters
Esq., Gent., K.C.B., etc.
Status: Gentlemen and Lesser Folk
The Major Rituals
Power and the Establishment


The Horse
Please, James, the Coach
The Railroad
The Mail

The Country

Life on the Farm
The Midlands, Wessex, and Yorkshire
Who's Who in the Country
Shire and Shire Alike: Local Government in Britain
"The Theory and System of Fox Hunting"
Vermin, Poachers, and Keepers
Fairs and Markets

The Private World

"Reader, I Married Him"
An Englishman's Home
Houses with Names
How the English Kept Clean
"Please, Sir, I Want Some More."
Drink and the Evils Thereof
Women's Clothing
Men's Clothing
The Governess
A Taxonomy of Maids
Victorian Recycling

The Grim World

The Orphan
The Workhouse
Death and Other Grave Matters

Part Two




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