Jane Austen,  Regency

Jane Austen Evening

On Saturday, I went to the annual JANE AUSTEN EVENING, which is sponsored by the Lively Arts History Association. (More info about them at http://lahacal.org/)

First was a lovely tea, followed by a performance by Herr Beethoven. Then supper, and then several hours of dancing to live period music. The dances were mostly country dances, ranging from easy (such as Child Grove) through intermediate and on to advanced (anything with a hey, apparently!) I was delighted to be able to dance several of the advanced dances this year. There were hundreds of people there, most in some sort of costume, and the whole thing was quite splendid.

Some, like me, were in simple handmade empire gowns…nothing fancy, but at least the right feeling. (That’s me, grinning away! And please keep in mind that empire gowns add thirty pounds, easily!) 🙂 Some, like my husband, were in fake-it-and-make-it-look-vaguely-period costume. But many were in the most detailed, intricate, amazing costumes ever. (Yes, I mean real corsets and everything!) 🙂

This is the third Jane Austen Evening I’ve attended, and each has been better than the last. I danced until my feet could take no more. And I danced three maggots — Dick’s Maggot, Jack’s Maggot, and Mr. Beveridge’s Maggot (easily the most famous, having featured in the BBC/A&E Pride and Prejudice.)

These photos are courtesy of my delightful friend Jean — she’s the one on the right in the final photo, in the red and gold gown. Jean and her handsome husband Jack are graceful and energetic dancers (beware Jack’s energy when he takes his Trip to Paris!) who have been dancing for a long time.

There don’t seem to be any English country dancing groups very near where I live (I’m iffy about driving twenty or thirty miles to one) but I can always hope! I danced with local groups when I lived in Santa Barbara and in Pittsburgh, and it’s great exercise as well as educational social fun. (That’s pretty much everything one could ever want rolled into one, if you add a little chocolate.)

All in all, I had a wonderful time (could you guess?) at the Jane Austen Evening, and can hardly wait until next year!

Cara King, www.caraking.com
MY LADY GAMESTER — from Signet Regency, on sale now!!!!

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16 years ago

Seems like fun…and, you guys look terrific, Cara. I couldn’t make out the ‘fake-it’ part about your husband’s costume, possibly because of my ‘untrained’ eye….only, he probably should have worn a monocle or a pince-nez, but that would have made the dancing difficult….wish I could learn those country dances 🙁

Cara King
16 years ago

Oh, he’ll be delighted to hear you couldn’t tell his costume was fake! 🙂

Yes, I could just see him ogling the ladies through a quizzing glass…. Well, okay, not really, but I like the idea! 🙂

As for learning country dances… From what I see, English country dance keeps increasing in popularity. There are a lot of groups that dance it around, and if there isn’t one anywhere near you, perhaps there will be some day!


16 years ago

Hmm. Cara likes the idea of me ogling the ladies through a quizzing glass. This has definite possibilities.

Thank you so much for your kind words about my costume, moonlight_maiden! It was supposed to look OK from a distance, but I’m afraid that up close it’s sadly modern. Many of the people there had stunning–and quite historically accurate–costumes. Of course, many of them probably bought them, or paid to have them made.

There’s a company I know of that makes period clothes and such: Jas. Townsend and Son. I’ve never bought any of their products, but I got sent one of their catalogs one time, and spent a long time ogling (if I may use that word) some of the products therein. I imagine there are probably other such companies as well.

Speaking of quizzing glasses, I have thought about having a pair of modern lenses set in a period-style frame. But I don’t think I could go without glasses entirely, unless I wanted to risk bumping into my partners even more than I already do…


16 years ago

Well, this does puzzle me a trifle…I suppose one would have to hold up a quizzing glass to see….How did men with poor eyesight manage back then, when they had to dance?…hmm…They’d probably have to switch from one hand to another, and their partners would have to put up with that….any other possiblities?

Janet Mullany
16 years ago

I’ve always thought quizzing glasses were more of a prop than anything else–used for effect, as Jo Beverly’s Wulfric does.

I used to do country dancing and I loved it. One of the reasons was that the dances themselves are so flirty and you get to touch strange men in a neutral environment(this was of great significance to me at the time).

Elena Greene
16 years ago

So what you’re saying, Cara, is that you actually weigh, what, about 90 lbs??? You look charming.

And Todd, so very handsome and distinguished! I love it when guys dress up. Sir Richard Greene and I have been tossing around the idea of both going to Atlanta for next summer’s RWA. He even said he might dress up for the Beau Monde do. I may be asking Todd for advice as to how to do this within reasonable effort/expense.

Looks like you had a great time; I wish there were something like that closer to me!

Elena 🙂

Amanda McCabe
16 years ago

I also wish there was something like this near me! We don’t even have a JASNA chapter. You and Todd look great, Cara, and I love your friend Jean’s dress.

Cara King
16 years ago

Elena, I need to keep a copy of you in the corner of my office to flatter me at regular intervals! 🙂

As to glasses — eyeglasses, that is — they did have spectacles. I have made no study of the subject of quizzing glasses, but I would guess that some gentlemen who used them had perfectly good eyesight — and used them as either an affection, or as magnification. And I would think that some gentlemen could see perfectly well for most daily things without wearing spectacles, but found that a quizzing glass was useful for certain things.


Megan Frampton
16 years ago

Coming in (fashionably) late, but you guys look great! It sure looked like a lot of fun. What a great thing for you to do together!

16 years ago

“So very handsome and distinguished!” Wow!

Maybe it isn’t my eyesight I should be worrying about! 🙂

Thanks a lot, Elena! You’re very good for my ego. 🙂


Laurie Bishop
16 years ago

Love these pictures, Cara!

Gee, I’d love to know the camera you used. I have a Cannon Powershot A20, and my interior shots leave something to be desired. But you even captured distant background in your shots. Just great!

I do have a Nikon FE that I have left gathering dust since the advent of the digital…perhaps I should dust it off…


Laurie Bishop
16 years ago

Tod–Doesn’t it seem as though most costumes for men are made for military reinactments, especially the civil war? I haven’t looked into this too much, but perhaps you have.

When my husband was alive, I wanted us to do civil war reenacting. I did a very brief stint as an officer’s wife at Fort Ontario in Oswego. The period for the reenactment was approximately 1859, so I wore a very full skirted gown and a corset. I’d love to do more of that sort of thing sometime.

My husband was a great fan of military history. He was a Viet Nam vet also, but contradictorily, one might think–he hated war, and we often encountered vets reenacting that had the opposite point of view, so our reenacting never got off the ground. But we did visit some very interesting reenactments.



Cara King
16 years ago

Thanks, Laurie! But it wasn’t my camera, it was my friend Jean’s. It’s some sort of digital camera, but beyond that, I know nothing! 🙂

When Todd and I lived in New Jersey, we went to several Revolutionary War reenactments — including one of the crossing of the Delaware. All of them were quite impressive. In one they had a recreation camp, and a kind soul showed me slowly and in great detail how to load a musket. Very useful to help visualization!


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