Happy (belated) birthday to Jane Austen!
Jane Austen’s novels have remained in print almost non-stop since they first began appearing in 1811, and her fame and popularity have grown to iconic status, incorporating numerous adaptations of her novels in other mediums. During her lifetime her name was much less well known. She anonymously published her first novel, Sense and Sensibility, in 1811; the title page of the first edition only identifies the author as “A Lady.” In subsequent novels published during her lifetime, Austen remained anonymous, and was referred to only by the other works she had written. Austen’s books remain beloved for the complex characters they portray, with heroines praised for their humor and conviction and gentlemen pined after for their courtesy and charm.
This spring, we will have materials on display in the Ellen and Nirmal Chatterjee Exhibition Gallery that explore the elements that went into making the men that Austen portrayed in her works. Making Mr. Darcy, curated by Lynne M. Thomas, will showcase the cultural context that makes (and in some cases unmakes) a regency gentleman. Through the books, pamphlets, and ephemera on display—covering topics from boxing, fashion and dancing to property management, politics, education, and scandals—you will see the cultural objects and societal trends that would have influenced Austen while she was writing her novels.
We hope you come to the RBML to see Making Mr. Darcy when it opens in mid-February!