The Jane Austen Marriage Manual
- Helen Amy
15th May 2017
How was Elizabeth Bennett expected to respond to Mr Darcy’s gauche advances? How was a mother meant to present her daughter to society for the first time?
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man, even these days (if reasonably educated), recognises the beginning of that quotation! A strict code of conduct governed courtship and marriage in Regency England during the period in which Jane Austen’s novels were set, broadly 1796 to 1816. Young, genteel women had to learn and adhere to these rules. What was a girl to do? How should a mother direct her eligible (or not so eligible) daughter? Many turned to the etiquette manuals made available by a burgeoning publishing industry. Published to coincide with the bicentenary of the death of Jane Austen, The Jane Austen Marriage Manual draws from this pool of early ‘how-to’ popular literature, read by Jane and her contemporaries (and actually referred to in her novels), as well as Jane’s own experiences. It traces the many stages of courtship and its potential pitfalls, from a girl’s first entry into society through to her wedding day and beyond.