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


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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Plotting Lady Susan


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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The Shades of Mirkwood


Margaret C. Sullivan:

A bit of silliness from the Editrix on her personal blog. After observing that Thranduil was a bit Lady Catherine de Bourghish in the latest trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Certain Parties plied us with screencaps of Richard Armitage and demanded a parody. Challenge accepted.

Originally posted on This Delightful Habit of Journaling:

Editorial Note: When the latest trailer for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was released, I was quite taken with the hero shot of Thorin, especially since the first trailer had (in my opinion) not nearly enough Thorin. I posted a link to the trailer on my personal Facebook page, and my friend Karen commented that she was taking a liking to Thranduil, king of Mirkwood and Legolas’ father. I replied that he was being rather Lady Catherine de Bourghish, as he was advising Evangeline Lilly’s character Tauriel to guard against raising expectations in Legolas that could not be fulfilled. All of a sudden we’re in a Jane Austen novel! Karen demanded a parody. I demanded payment, to wit, one screencap of Thorin’s hero shot. Heather delivered it within moments, and I was stuck writing obliged to write the parody. Not that I minded very much. It’s worth the payment…

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Long time no see.

Edited to add: I have no excuses for the long absence, other than perhaps a severe case of blogger burnout. I actually have lots of stuff to publish–reviews and links and stuff. Anyway, check out the right column. I’ve added a Tumblr where I will publish links and stuff, even if I’m not necessarily blogging. Some of the stuff is old because I started doing this a couple of weeks ago…see, I have good intentions, really. :-)

*fangirl squee*


Naomi Novik is going to write a Temeraire-universe short story about Elizabeth Bennet as a dragon captain, based on fanart sent into a contest she is holding on her site. The squee we emitted upon reading this could be heard in space.

“The story for this one is actually going to be the longest of the collection, because having seen this picture I now can’t NOT write Captain Elizabeth Bennet’s story…!” — Naomi

For those unfamiliar with the Temeraire books, they are a fantasy series set during the Napoleonic Wars, with dragons outfitted with crews and arms giving aerial support to the Royal Navy and the Army. It is an alternate universe setting (obviously!) so some historical details are different–for one thing, France invades Britain at one point.* Women serve in the Aerial Corps–though their existence is kept more or less secret as society disapproves–because certain species of dragons will only accept women companions/captains. The novels have an amazing period feel in both the dialogue and the action. Temeraire the dragon is an absolutely delightful character (as are most of the dragons) and his companion, Captain William Laurence, is a real Hottie McHotbreeches in many ways–good-looking, heroic, and tortured. (Paging Richard Armitage; Mr. Armitage, please pick up the white courtesy phone.) If Jane Austen and Patrick O’Brian and Anne McCaffrey had a love child (yes, we know, but stay with us) they would be these novels. If you have any liking at all for fantasy or Age of Sail novels–we love both–check these out!

*We were kind of freaked out in one scene to hear Lord Nelson discussing the Battle of Trafalgar and then we thought “WAIT WHAT DRAGONS” and got over it.



In the comments to the post about the trailer for the new modern-set P&P, we hinted at some background that readers asked us to share. We thought the confirming pages had disappeared from the Internet, but it turns out they hadn’t, so we decided to go forward. We post this information so that our Gentle Readers can form their own conclusions about the production.

In February 2010, we heard from an Alert Reader who has provided us with excellent information about upcoming films, casting, etc. in the past. She wanted to let us know about a new modern-set P&P. She seemed excited about it, but after inspecting the links, we had serious doubts.

The first link was to the P&P2005 blog, which had an interview with the writer/director/producer. The blogger claimed that she had been introduced to this individual by Keira Knightley. Yes, that Keira Knightley. Allegedly the interaction had happened via a Twitter account allegedly belonging to Miss Knightley, which claims it is “MY ONLY TWITTER!” References to wonderful fans, coy allusions to “Ru,” etc. lend an air of verisimilitude; however, in 2009 Miss Knightley claimed in an interview that she hated social networking in general and Twitter, Facebook, and email in particular. Another thing to be noted is that most official celebrity Twitter accounts are verified by Twitter. For instance, see Tom Hanks’ Twitter account, and note the white-on-blue check mark next to his name. If one hovers one’s mouse over this checkmark, it indicates that the account is verified to belong to the actual celebrity. All celebrities we have followed on Twitter have this verification. Keira’s “MY ONLY TWITTER!” has no such check mark.

According to the blog post, “Keira” told the blogger that she had read a great new script written by a friend of hers for a modern-set P&P. She offered to perform the introductions via e-mail. The introductions were performed and resulted in a spate of blog posts on the P&P2005 blog interviewing various cast members and generally publicizing the movie.

We did post about the film on AustenBlog at the time, as word got out around the Internets and we had several people write to us in a high state of excitement, thinking this was a legitimate production. However, the whole thing with the “Keira Knightley” Twitter account, and the involvement with it by the producer/writer/director of the film, and the fact that the Twitter account had been allowed to lie fallow from April 2010 until very recently (conveniently, perhaps, just in time to help publicize this new film)–well, if we were a nasty cynical suspicious type of person (who, us?), we might think that’s more than just a coincidence. And if there is some connection there, we’re sure our Gentle Readers will give this production the attention it deserves.

The Janeite Times, No. 3


Welcome to The Janeite Times, in which we aggregate links and information of interest to the Austen fan.

A Georgian building has been saved from the wrecking ball in Tonbridge. The building is thought to have been once owned by Jane Austen’s uncle Henry. Thanks to Alert Janeite Lisa for the link.

Outfits from the People’s Choice Awards are bewilderingly compared to P&P.

The clothes were not fashionable. Many of the women looked like they had just come from shooting E!’s version of Pride and Prejudice, with the look of the night neither glam nor modern nor young, but rather that of a slovenly milkmaid.

Slovenly milkmaid? Thanks to Alert Janeite Lisa for the link.

In other fashion news, the Fug Girls hilariously (as they do everything) invoked some S&S.

I feel like this is what Marianne Dashwood would’ve looked like if she and Willoughby had ended up getting hitched. She’d be skipping through the town square, all, “Yeah, bitches, check out this fine piece. He is mighty of loin and full of breeches and you get to STEP OFF because I totally put a ring on it.” Yeah, Jane Austen would’ve enjoyed the hell out of some Beyonce, let me tell you.

Hee. Yep, Jane would have been all about All the Single Ladies. Celebrate #sns200, y’all!

Colleen McCullough is trying to get attention again by dissing Jane Austen. We do not think she deserves the compliment of rational opposition. Of course, her last attempt was derailed by the zombie train. Thanks to Alert Janeite Nichola for the link.

As always, this is an AustenBlog DIY post, so feel free to add your own interesting links below!