Hilary Davidson delves into the clothing of one of the world’s great authors, providing unique and intimate insight into her everyday life and material world
What did Jane Austen wear?
Acclaimed dress historian and Austen expert Hilary Davidson reveals, for the first time, the wardrobe of one of the world’s most celebrated authors. Despite her acknowledged brilliance on the page, Jane Austen has all too often been accused of dowdiness in her appearance. Drawing on Austen’s 161 known letters, as well as her own surviving garments and accessories, this book assembles examples of the variety of clothes she would have possessed—from gowns and coats to shoes and undergarments—to tell a very different story. The Jane Austen that Hilary Davidson discovers is alert to fashion trends but thrifty and eager to reuse and repurpose clothing. Her renowned irony and wit pepper her letters, which describe clothes, shopping, and taste. Jane Austen’s Wardrobe offers the rare pleasure of a glimpse inside the closet of a stylish dresser and perpetually fascinating writer.
Hilary Davidson is associate professor and chair of MA Fashion and Textile Studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York. She has curated, lectured, broadcast, and published extensively in her field and is author of Dress in the Age of Jane Austen: Regency Fashion.
“[A] charming book, which examines what Austen actually wore on the evidence of voluminous letters exchanged with her sister Cassandra whenever they were separated. . . . A delightful companion.”—Maev Kennedy, Art Newspaper
“This lavishly illustrated book offers readers a unique peek into the clothes worn by celebrated Regency author Jane Austen.”—History Revealed
“Davidson’s engaging and illuminating study portrays a household in which appearances are important but budgets tight. . . . Nothing I have read has brought Austen so close.”—Rosemary Goring, The Herald
“It’s by [an] evocation of the everyday real world that Jane Austen’s Wardrobe triumphs (that and its magnificent production values—the design is appropriately sumptuous). We turn these pages watching one of the world’s greatest novelists manage her appearance and sort out what she’ll wear day by day and what she’ll pay for it. . . . It’s captivating, particularly with [Davidson’s] historical insight as a guide.”—Steve Donoghue, Open Letters Review
“Rakewell is looking forward to the publication of Jane Austen’s Wardrobe by Hilary Davidson (Yale University Press).”—Rakewell column, Apollo Magazine
“As gripping as a corset, this superb book is a must-read for Austen lovers and scholars.”—Philippa Stockley, The Oldie
“A visual feast, as well as offering insight into Austen’s fabled attention to the minutiae of her own social class. It also sends a message to the modern [over] consumer.”—Jacqueline Riding, Country Life
“[Davidson’s] book provides significantly more detail than is generally known about any individual wardrobe. . . . It provides as close to a comprehensive look at her wardrobe as is possible.”—Cassidy Percoco, History Today
"go forth and read" —YouTuber and author Bernadette Banner
“An intriguing and wholly original approach to Jane Austen. . . . A most delightful book and a must for every Austen reader.”—Claire Tomalin, author of Jane Austen: A Life
“The definitive compendium of Jane Austen’s clothes, recreated from fragments, by an acknowledged mistress of the field. Open the book, the author invites, as you might a chest of drawers, to find anything but a dowdy spinster.”—Amanda Vickery, author of Behind Closed Doors
“This gorgeously illustrated volume from the world’s leading expert on the fashion of the Regency era lifts the skirts on Jane Austen’s wardrobe.”—Paula Byrne, author of The Real Jane Austen
“Hugely enjoyable, charmingly illustrated and beautifully produced, a book to linger over and which, moreover, sheds light on just how seriously Jane Austen took fashion.”—Claire Wilcox, author of Patch Work
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