Jane Austen and Her Lockdown Legacy

 

Life during the coronavirus lockdown has felt like something from the pages of a Jane Austen novel.  

We’ve become like those much-loved heroines from the books, maintaining a respectful Regency-distance between ourselves and others, fretting about our finances and spending our time strolling in the English countryside and trying not to feel anxious about our health.  

We’ve turned to her books to provide some romantic escapism and giggled at the social media posts that try to make light of the situation. Now that the lockdown is coming to an end, we can keep enjoying her novels and use what we’ve learned from her books to positively affect our lives post-pandemic. Here are three fun ways we can do just that.  

  1. Keep indulging in your hobbies

Whenever the female characters in Jane Austen novels weren’t swooning over potential lovers, struggling through family feuds, or negotiating complicated social rules, they were almost certainly enjoying one of their many hobbies.  

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book!

—Pride & Prejudice 

 During the pandemic, many of us have become sick of binge-watching Netflix and wasting time on social media. Instead, just like some of our favourite Georgians, we’ve rediscovered many of our hobbies in attempt to keep our mental health in check.   

We’ve fallen back in love with reading, learned new languages, or embraced long walks in the great outdoors. Thanks to the digital age, we’ve also been able to dive into online painting classes, finally learn how to knit or sew, or even brush up on our cooking skills. 

Although the lockdown is easing at the moment, that’s no reason to ditch these stress-relieving habits and return to normal life.  Studies suggest that practising hobbies can make us smarter, more creative and more empathetic so why put that to waste? Which hobby will you continue post-lockdown?

Why not take up a new hobby with our Jane Austen Counted Cross Stitch Kit?

  1. Keep Austen's legacy alive by visiting locations that inspired her

Whilst curled up reading your Jane Austen novels or enjoying adaptations for the screen, you’ve likely enjoyed some escapism in the beautiful English landscapes, grand estates, and gorgeous estates featured in the book.  Perhaps you’ve soaked up the Devonshire countryside in Sense and Sensibility, lusted after Luckington Court in the Cotswolds or enjoyed the vibrant and fashionable Bath in Northanger Abbey.  

Many of the places that inspired Austen can be visited now that lockdown is coming to an end. As international travel is still not allowed, why not visit one of these locations as a short Austen-inspired ‘staycation’ in England? The UK is home to the filming locations of our many beloved films and TV series, especially in the case of Jane Austen, whose books - and their adaptations - have inspired many travellers throughout Britain and beyond.  Here are some suggestions: 

  1. Focus on your mental health

You only have to glimpse at social media to see that just as in Jane Austen’s books, many of us have struggled with our mental health during the pandemic, with the constant negative news-cycle provoking sadness and anxiety. It’s hardly surprising that we've felt the effects, considering that we’ve been under such extreme pressure; staying isolated, working remotely, staying healthy and perhaps even homeschooling, can soon take its toll.  

Yet many of us have put habits into place to stay mentally healthy, such as practising yoga or meditation, opening up to family and friends about our feelings and adopting healthier habits such as getting more sleep and eating well. Like the characters in the books, we’ve got through.  

We’ve discovered how resilient we really are, even when faced with such social isolation and often, utter boredom.  Despite the lockdown easing and vaccinations becoming more widespread, the pandemic is far from over. Therefore we must continue to take care of our mental health if we want to emerge on the other side relatively unscathed.  

Which friends or family members have you been able to lean on in these difficult times? How have you taken care of your finances? Which trusted news sources have you relied on for accurate information? How have you managed your anxiety?  

As the pandemic restrictions ease, we can draw inspiration from the Jane Austen novels as we return to a new ‘normal’.  We’ve learned a great deal about ourselves and others during these challenging times, so it’s important not to throw away all that we’ve learned but instead use it to become better versions of ourselves.  Keep enjoying your hobbies, consider treating yourself to a staycation, if you live in England and take care of your mental health. The rest will fall into place. 

If you're thinking about taking Meghan's advice and visiting a few Austen-related sites then we have great news for you - the Jane Austen Centre will be reopening on May 19 2021. Click here to get your tickets.

Meghan Taylor is an emerging freelance writer and a Jane Austen fanatic. Having grown up surrounded by books, Meghan was introduced to Austen during secondary school, where she fell in love with her witty text and strong-minded characters. Since then, Meghan has read Austen’s novels over and over, especially during the past year or so, where she was often found curled up with one of her books during lockdown. When it comes to her own writing, Austen has inspired Meghan in many ways, not only with her determination to share her stories with the world, but also through her skills and knowledge – something that Meghan hopes is reflected in her own works.  
If you, like Meghan, would like to contribute to the Jane Austen blog, please have a look at our submission guidelines.