BookPick: A Visitor’s Guide to Jane Austen’s England
Now that Thomas Kydd finds himself mingling at the highest levels in English society his horizons have changed immeasurably from those of the humble wig-maker who was press-ganged into the Royal Navy in 1793. Sue Wilke’s book is a very readable eye-witness guide to Kydd’s new world.
Packed with detail, and anecdotes, the book is an intimate exploration of how the middle and upper classes lived in the Georgian era. The author skilfully conjures up all aspects of daily life within the period, drawing on contemporary diaries, illustrations, letters, novels, travel literature and archives.
The book is divided into seven chapters – travelling, gracious living, the latest modes, money matters, shopping and leisure, the perfect partner and health concerns.
From the chapter on travelling: ‘All roads lead to London, the bustling centre of the nation’s trade and fashion. Unless you have your own carriage, you’ll travel by stagecoach or mail coach, post-chaise or hired horse, breaking your journey where necessary at an inn.
‘One of the best views of London is from Shooter’s Hill on the Dover Road. You’ll see the River Thames winding through rich green meadows against a backdrop of gently rolling downs: a bristling forest of ships’ masts…
Visitors coming from the opposite direction, that is from the west, enter the metropolis via the Great West Road at Hounslow. From Brentford you’ll find that it’s now almost one continuous street to London…’
An extensive bibliography is included as are a number of interesting black and white illustrations.
This book is a very readable and complementary addition to the rich body of reference works available on Georgian life ashore.