A Journey Through Jane Austen’s Januaries by Diana Birchall — 27 Comments

    • Glad you liked it, Patty. Yes, you kind of slide by the weather descriptions while reading the books – when I looked at all her mentions of January, I was surprised how it rapidly formed a picture!

  1. wow! Great information. I am going to have to revisit some of Ms. Austen’s stories. All of the discussing of weather in the drawing and sitting rooms and I did not pay attention. Thanks very much for this, Diana.

    • Thanks, Joy. Yes, when reading Jane Austen somehow the weather is the last thing we focus on! That’s why it was so much fun to pull out these “January” references and examine them.

    • Thank you, Sophia. Yes, you can do this with almost any aspect of Jane Austen – I think it helps you see so muich more!

  2. Such an interesting post, Diana. We forget how much influence the weather would have had on life two hundred years ago, now that we have central heating in our homes, paved roads and snow clearing equipment.

    Here in Yorkshire, in the UK, right now it’s extremely windy, but sunny and reasonably mild. No sign at all of the white stuff. Our winters here seem to become very variable. Some years, lots of snow, in others lots of rain and storms, but the White Christmas as a regular event seems to have become a thing of the past, for now at least.

    We British just love to talk about the weather and I don’t think that’s changed since Jane Austen’s time!

    • Forgot to say, I think I already have all the items I’m eligible for, if Susan’s ebook and audiobook are of Mr. Darcy’s Proposal, sp I haven’t entered the Rafflecopter draw yet. If Susan’s gifts are for another book, please could you let us know?

      • Anji, I think Susan’s books are your choice, so you could choose the ebook you want. The audiobook would be the same, but it is US (shows that in the Rafflecopter list of prizes).

        • Thanks for clarifying that, Kara. I already have Susan’s book in both ebook and audio format, so don’t need entering in this week’s draw.

    • Thank you, Anji. That’s just what I thought when reading the January letters – how the whole character of daily routine changed in bad weather in Jane Austen’s day. She probably didn’t write about it very much because it was a given, too ordinary (and of course everybody knew you couldn’t go walking when there was mud). But we do tend to forget what a huge difference things like central heating make! I have allergies and mild asthma, and I’d have been constantly ill if I had to live with wood or coal fires all winter long!

  3. It is amazing to see the changes in a life and in health from one year to the next. It is also very sad to read the differences between that first letter and the last. The first is a gay letter from a young girl and the last seems a struggle from a woman worn and tired…and only 41. How interesting this post and such reasearch…what fun. Hope you are warmer than we are. We Southern girls don’t like cold mornings with windy afternoons.

    • That was exactly my thought, Maggie. Just putting the January references together, I was astounded by how they told a self enclosed life story, in microcosm. Quite interesting and makes you think, doesn’t it? I think it’s because you don’t usually see the young girl letters so immediately contrasted with the last ones – but this small format just did that, and I was struck. Glad you were too. We’re having afternoon temperatures just under 70F right now, so we’re lucky!

  4. Ahhh the weather…we still talk, complain, comment, ponder and enjoy it or not. It’s nice to see that some things don’t change. Though we do have it so much better…convenience wise when it comes to roads and modes of transportation. Mind you, I still wouldn’t want to be driving in a snowstorm regardless of mode! Thank you for this post as I really enjoyed picturing a glimpse of Jane. That’s certainly some cap! Loved the pictures with this post too!

  5. We are having weather dipping into single digits and on Tuesday snow and freezing rain. Even with central heating I was wearing three layers on top. Hate having a cold neck.

    These January letters from Jane bring home how limited their social lives were. Here we have so many ways of communicating plus of being entertained, i.e., seeing a movie on a snowy day. If you didn’t have close neighbors or didn’t keep up with your letter writing you needed a book or an instrument to while away the hours, it seems….or needlework. I, too, didn’t note the weather and months in Jane’s writing. Thank you for your collected research to bring it all together.

    • Thanks, Sheila – I felt quite rewarded for very little work, in having this glimpse of Jane in her Januaries. In addition to reading, music, etc. it’s no wonder they developed conversation into an art, is it?

  6. What an informative post. I never realized how seasons played a part in Jane’s stories although now that I reflect on it the season of winter is rarely reflected upon. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful research you did.

    • Thank you, Deborah. It was surprisingly very little research, but just looking at “Jane in January” did reap some thoughtful rewards! Wonder what February would do…

    • Thank you, Regina. I know…I never happened to think about January before either, but looking at her letters gave us quite a picture!

  7. Thanks so much for this post. I also tend to ignore references to weather when I read Jane Austen, but its effects were so much more immediate in her time — and likely to harm you seriously if you weren’t careful! I thought it was a nice aspect of home life, though, that being forced to stay home, and having to amuse yourself and your family, it was common to read to each other and partake of other amusements together. In today’s life I think we all tend to veer off and do our own thing — it doesn’t seem that common that families are all reading the same books (or even watching the same programs), even if you were forced to be housebound due to severe weather. Then again, I’m from California, so my whole perspective on weather is probably a little skewed! 🙂

    • I’m in California too, Kathy – Santa Monica, where we have actually been enjoying a little rain in the last day or two! I think it is because of the lack of weather here, that I am particularly fascinated by all it meant, and still does mean, in England, especially before all the modern protections from it. Your point about familes doing their own thing, nobody on the same page together, is so valid. As soon as I read that, the image rose up in my mind of a whole family on their own separate cell phones and computers. In separate worlds.

  8. I like reading a summary of what happened to Jane in the cold month of January. As I haven’t experience the winter season before, I imagine the days are dull and gloomy but it looks like Jane made the best of the weather and enjoyed herself. Thanks for sharing this informative post with us, Diana.

    • Thanks, Luthien, yes I think that English people of that day raised indoor amusement during the long bleak wintry days to a high art!

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