The Festive Season in Georgian England by Maria Hubert With a bright holiday cover featuring Polly Maberly (Kitty Bennet) of Pride and Prejudice fame, Jane Austen's Christmas promises to be a delightful read. However, like Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, this book is not so much Austen as a vignette of one aspect of the Regency. It contains suppositions and outright falacies (for example, one of the first illustrations - that of a young girl, pen in hand - is labeled "Jane Austen". There are only two officially recognized portraits of the author- this is neither.) That said, this is a delightful account of the Christmas season in Georgian England. Be aware that this book primarily refers to the middle class and their celebrations that cannot neccesarily be attributed to upper or lower class life. If you are doing research or simply looking for an enjoyable holiday read, this is a great place to start. It does include many period resources and writings, just be sure to check your facts. The author, Countess Maria Hubert von Staufer, is Director of Christmas Archives International in the United Kingdom. She has written extensively on the subject of Christmas celebrations in Britain through the centuries:
"For many people, Christmas was reinvented by the Victorian/nineteenth century society. It is a popular misconception that Christmas in England was eradicated by the Cromwellians in the seventeenth century and was only reinvented by the Victorians. Although the customs went underground they remained solid traditions celebrated by all who wished to do so."The best content description comes from the back cover blurb posted at Amazon.uk.co. Also posted at Amazon are several pages of text, both covers and the front index.
From the almost dismissive references in Jane Austen's novels, one could be forgiven for thinking that Christmas in Georgian England was a somewhat dismal affair. To the contrary, Miss Austen would have known elaborate house parties and fancy dress balls. The Mummers would surely have attended her home in Hampshire, as would the Waits, encouraging "good Christians" to "awake" on Christmas morning. She is also known to have enjoyed Christmas pudding, still then a fairly new dish, loved by the Georgian monarchy and copied by many families at the time. Readers will discover the little-known story of how "Emma" came to be dedicated to the Prince Regent, and how the Austen family entertainment was almost ruined one year because of the prudishness of a country cousin. The elaborate Christmas seasons enjoyed by Jane's sisters at brother Edward's home in Kent contrast with those of the Georgian parson, Rev William Holland, among whose parishioners Christmas was but a poor affair. In this text, readers can experience Christmas in the later Georgian period, as described by many of Austen's contemporaries, including Robert Southey, John Clare and Sir Walter Scott; and play the very games and charades that the Austens themselves enjoyed and wrote. Or try some of the authentic recipes from her own kitchen - perhaps the festive rice pudding, a gloriously rich dessert. And read poems and songs of the festive season, and learn of parlour theatricals in the Christmas holidays. The observations of an Englishman's Christmas as seen through the eyes of a contemporary American writer, Washington Irving, provide an eye-witness account of how an outsider viewed a Georgian Christmas. Contemporary engravings and sketches illustrate the customs and traditions of the day, alongside portraits of the Austen family.Jane Austen's Christmas : The Festive Season in Georgian England Paperback - 128 pages October 1997 Sutton Publishing ISBN: 075091307X The author, Countess Maria Hubert von Staufer, is Director of Christmas Archives International in the United Kingdom. She has also written: Christmas in Shakespeare's England, The Brontes' Christmas, and Christmas Around the World. Visit her website: http://www.christmasarchives.com/ for excerpts. Enjoyed this article? Visit our giftshop and escape into the world of Jane Austen.