Showing posts from January, 2013

How the world is celebrating the bicentenary of Pride and Prejudice

Today marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's most enduring novel. And the world is celebrating!

Perhaps most exciting is the BBC's reenactment of the Netherfield Ball.

That's right... the Regency ball in all its historic splendor will be held at Chawton House, Hampshire, the Elizabethan manor house which belonged to Austen's brother and which is now The Centre for the Study of Early English Women's Writing, 1600-1830. The resulting television special, Pride and Prejudice: Having A Ball at Easter, will air on BBC2 this spring.

The blog Austenprose is hosting The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013 which encourages Austen devotees to read not only the original but also enjoy various prequels, sequels and motion picture versions. And there are fun Jane Austen-themed prizes!

Austen scholar Susannah Fullerton has published a thorough analysis of P&P and its enduring popularity in her Celebrating Pride and P…

Downton Abbey, the Demise of English Country Houses and the Surprising Endurance of the Norman Conquest

With the much anticipated season 3 of Downton Abbey, we see the reemergence of a theme from season 1 -- the precarious existence of English manor houses like Downton Abbey in postwar England, a very complex and interesting chapter in British history.

Highclere Castle in Hampshire, the fictional Downton Abbey
Although the strain of maintaining these grand country houses was already beginning to show prior to World War I, after the war, the ruin of such homes accelerated. The tremendous cost of the war, led to the United Kingdom dramatically raising taxes.

“The question of who should bear the costs of the First World War was a central element in the aftermath of ‘profound disorder and turbulence’ which… formed a ‘critical period in the disciplining of change, in the survival and adaptation of political and economic elites, and in the twentieth-century capitalist order they dominated,” (“How to Pay for the War: State, Society and Taxation in Britain, 1917-24,” English Historical Review, M.…