Life below stairs – the duties of a Georgian housemaid

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Margaret C. Sullivan:

We are having Dorothy make note of these cleaning tips.

Originally posted on All Things Georgian:

lwlpr14293 - maid of all work ‘Maid of all work’ – courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Many of our posts take a look at the upper echelons of Georgian society, so this time we thought it might be interesting to look at what it would have been like to have worked ‘below stairs’ as a housemaid in a Georgian household: it’s not quite Downton Abbey though!

Although these duties weren’t written until towards the end of the Georgian era, the workload would more than likely have been the same for the previous hundred years or more. Having taken a look, our conclusion is that it’s certainly not a job for us, what do you think?

lwlpr02996 - Statute Hall for hiring servants Statute Hall for hiring servants

Qualifications

A housemaid should be active, clean, and neat in her person. Be an early riser, of a respectful and steady deportment, and possessed of a temper that will not be easily ruffled. She must be able…

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Sharks

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that websites are like sharks: they must continually move forward or die.* So it’s time for AustenBlog to make with the fin and big teeth.

shark

Greetings!

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Jane Austen’s House Museum raising funds to buy Cassandra Austen letter

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Cassandra AustenIf you haven’t yet heard, Jane Austen’s House Museum is raising funds to purchase a letter written by Cassandra Austen to Fanny Knight a couple of weeks after Jane Austen’s death. The letter is currently on loan to the museum and on display there. They have from May to July to raise £10,000. They have already raised money for the purchase via the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Collecting Cultures  scheme, but need to raise the additional money from individual givers.

The letter was written on July 29, 1817. Cassandra is responding to a letter from Fanny.

Nothing of the sort could have been more gratifying to me than the manner in which you write of her, and if the dear angel is conscious of what passes here, and is not above all earthly feelings, she may perhaps receive pleasure in being so mourned.

Cassandra is past her first grief and making arrangements for the disposition of Jane’s things, including a lock of her hair; she inquires whether Fanny wants it set in a ring or a brooch. Being the executrix of Jane’s will, these are necessary actions, but one can imagine the heartbreak–and healing–that accompanied them.

You can read the whole letter at Molland’s. The letter (dated July 29) is about two-thirds of the way down the page.

You can donate through the campaign’s Just Giving page, or send a check directly to the Museum. Do try to send something–even just a small amount. Lots of people giving small amounts adds up to a big amount. Let’s do this, and bring the letter home.

JASNA Louisville announces the Jackie Johnson Memorial AGM Scholarship

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JASNA Louisville has announced that they have established the Jackie Johnson Memorial AGM Scholarship to pay the registration and hotel costs to attend the AGM. The scholarship is open to any member in good standing of JASNA as of May 1, 2015, who has never attended an AGM. If you’ve always wanted to go to the AGM and can’t afford it, this is a great opportunity!

It’s not a lottery; you have to write an essay. Jane wouldn’t want it to be that easy. :) The essay prompt and directions can be found at the link above.

The scholarship honors Jackie Johnson, a member of JASNA Louisville who passed away in 2014. What a wonderful way to honor her memory. Even if you don’t want or need the scholarship, go read the link and learn about Jackie.

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, A Musical at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

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pnpmusicalThe wonderful, beautiful, moving musical of Pride and Prejudice by Amanda Jacobs and Lindsay Warren Baker is currently playing at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts in the Los Angeles area. It is running through May 10. If you are anywhere in the area and can get there, make every opportunity to do so. It’s a terrific adaptation and the music is wonderful. To get a flavor of it, check out the musical’s Facebook page as well as La Mirada’s Facebook page, which have photos and videos of the play. They are both public, so you don’t need to be a Facebook member to see the photos and videos. There have also been several reviews: StageSceneLA, Broadway World (lots of photos in that one!), and the OC Register.

Around the Austen Web

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We have been struggling a bit with the whole blogging thing lately, but others have fortunately taking up the slack! (And there will be a announcement about AustenBlog coming very soon. Nothing bad, we promise!)

among_the_janeites_coverWe are on record as having very much enjoyed Deborah Yaffe’s book Among the Janeites, and her blog is very good reading as well. In particular we enjoyed Deborah’s recent post about the Austen Project, which brought up a point that we had been wondering about but was too lazy to blog: why haven’t the last two authors been announced yet? That is, the authors who will write updated versions of Persuasion and Mansfield Park? Being the cynical tar-hearted spinster &c. that we are, we have suspected that the project has been so unsuccessful that The Powers That Be have decided to discontinue the project. However, Deborah makes a very good alternative point: perhaps no author has been willing to take on the job. Deborah also reviews Alexander McCall Smith’s recent release of an updated Emma and looks forward to Curtis Sittenfeld’s Pride and Prejudice–which has been titled Eligible, rather than simply copying the title of the original! One hopes the publishers have responded to the general hostility with which the unchanged titles have been received by Greater Janeiteland, and retitled the novel. Or perhaps Ms. Sittenfeld simply insisted. More power to her, we say. In any event, do check out the post, as well as the rest of Deborah’s excellent blog.

young_jane_austen_coverLisa Pliscou, author of the new Austen biography Young Jane Austen: Becoming a Writer, also has a blog with some interesting entries about Jane Austen. This post, about the books read and loved by famous authors, mentions several authors who love Jane Austen’s work, which is all perfectly delightful. (We are currently reading Bring Up the Bodies, the second in Hilary Mantel’s series about Thomas Cromwell, and were startled and amused to find “Tilney Abbey” mentioned–we’re pretty sure such an abbey never actually existed but you KNOW where she got it from.) Emma Thompson is quoted, mentioning whom she would invite to a dinner party, as saying, “I’d have gone for Jane Austen if I weren’t convinced she’d just have a soft-boiled egg and leave early.” Lisa protests against this, as did several Janeites (including the Editrix) on Twitter.

Plotting Lady Susan

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Margaret C. Sullivan:

We meant to reblog this to AustenBlog a while back and totally forgot! We have written up some thoughts about the plot of Lady Susan as it relates to the upcoming film, Whit Stillman’s adaptation that he is calling Love and Friendship. We’ve examined the plot of LS as both prose and how it could be adapted to film. (Emphasis on “could be.”)

Originally posted on This Delightful Habit of Journaling:

kate_beckinsale_lady_susanWith Love and Friendship currently filming, I’ve been thinking a lot about the plot of Lady Susan, upon which, of course, the film is based, and how it would work in the film medium. I stress I have no idea how Whit Stillman, who I believe has written the adaptation, has decided to adapt the original; I am working completely with the original as Austen wrote it.

In case you haven’t read this novella yet (and why not? It’s quite short and enjoyable, and free to read if you have an e-reader, tablet, or smartphone), be aware I will be discussing the entire plot, so if a spoiler alert is needed, then: spoiler alert! Someone more or less familiar with the story will have an easier time following along.

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