Wacky Wednesday– Regency Male Costume

I’ve posted about female Regency era fashion a few times. Today, I want to talk about male fashions–specifically the wacky ones. You probably have something close to this in your head for male clothing of the era.

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I’ve gone through a lot of fashion prints and these are pretty standard examples of the era. Oh, but there’s more. I wonder what Mr. Bennet would say about the lace some of these men wore.

Like this guy…

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There’s also the issue of hats. Here’s what we think of for Mr. Darcy

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Instead, there’s this:

Ben Franklin wouldn’t have needed a kite for his electrical experiment. He could have waited a few decades and just used his ginormous hat! They’ll fly away in a gust of wind!

For ladies, the Regency era was generally light on embellishments. They certainly had them but nothing compared to the finery of decades past or that the Victorians would bring back. Making this set of trousers all the more curious.

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Speaking of trousers, there were high waters in the 19th century. Steve Urkel would be proud!

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Well, there’s a taste of the wacky male costuming I’ve discovered this week. To be honest, though, I would surely prefer any of these to skinny jeans or sagging. Sigh.

However, to solve the recent debate of what Mr. Darcy must have looked like in which “historians” gave a rendition of a sickly looking man with a powdered wig looking more akin to George Washington than any contemporary hearth throb, we luckily have portraits and fashion plates! Thankfully, they prove the adaptions more likely to be correct. Thank heavens!

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Wacky Wednesday–Scott’s Grotto

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I was watching the 2009 production of Emma the other day when I realized Pride and Prejudice is the only Jane Austen story in which the primary male and female characters do not go on an excursion together. Of course, in each scenario there are annoying people amongst them. It made me wonder what it would be like for the Bennets and the Bingley group to go on an outing together. Could you imagine Caroline having to sit in a carriage with Lydia for hours?

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Thus I began researching to find a suitable place in Hertfordshire to send our beloved Pride and Prejudice characters. However, I also wanted to post about it for today’s theme. I knew it had to be “wacky.” After a few hours, I found Scott’s Grotto in Ware. It’s about 4 miles from Hertford, which I tend to use as my base for Meryton. I’ve read somewhere, now lost to my memory, that it’s a possible inspiration for Meryton.

 

Scott’s Grotto is not just any grotto. And for those that don’t know, a grotto is a cave. Think Ariel’s grotto from the Little Mermaid. I am a bit biased on the topic of grottoes as I grew up in a town called Grottoes and, if I may say, we have the best caverns in the US. If you ever find yourself in Virginia, be sure to stop by Grand Caverns.

Back to Scott’s Grotto. It’s the largest in England. Built into the chalk hillside, it has six chambers and is 65 feet long and 30 feet below the surface. There are connecting passages and the area is complete with air and light shafts. Its walls are covered with sea shells, colored glass, and stones. It was made by John Scott, an 18th century Quaker who also wrote poetry and owned the property of Amwell House in which the grotto is located. Scott also had other romantic items in his garden, including a gazebo. From 1779 to 1787, Scott recorded 3,000 visitors to his grotto. Famed writer Samuel Johnson visited in 1773 and called it a “fairy hall.”

Upon Scott’s death in 1783, the estate was inherited by his only daughter, Maria. She married a wealthy Quaker named John Hooper. Unfortunately, when she died in 1863 the property was divided up. The grotto was repaired in 1990s. Both the house and the estate are under management of the Hertford Regional College.

So…how will I work this grotto into a story? You’ll just have to come back and see! 😀

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott%27s_Grotto

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1000918

http://www.scotts-grotto.org/

Wacky Wednesday– Mix up

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Can you guess which Jane Austen heroines I have mixed up in the following opening line?

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and no one who had ever seen her in her infancy would have supposed her born to be an heroine.

 

 

Could you imagine a story in which Emma Woodhouse experienced Catherine Morland’s circumstances? Wacky indeed! I don’t have any current plans for such a story but I challenge you to consider the possibilities. What do you think might change about Northanger Abbey if Emma Woodhouse were the heroine? What if they both swapped and Catherine is the wealthy heiress of Hartfield? I wonder if Mr. Knightley could tolerate Catherine’s naivete or if Henry Tilney would be annoyed at Emma’s snobbiness. Catherine would never insult Miss Bates but at what moment would she learn she had over-indulged her imagination? When would Emma have to face her bad manners and interference if living in Catherine’s shoes?

As a Jane Austen Fan Fiction writer, it’s not enough to just take a story and “mess” something up. One must consider how a story would change when a detail is altered. The second story I ever wrote was inspired by a writing prompt on a free forum. It was about “wacky holidays.” There were several suggested. One was “letter writing day.” From that prompt, I wrote what became Letters from the Heart. The first draft was “The Best Laid Plans.” It was intended to be a short story of only a few hundred words. A few months later, I decided to edit it and make it longer. I posted it on another site. A few months after that, I decided to edit again. Finally, I decided to publish and it grew even more.

I still enjoy the original story (which was well over 500 words). It was complete on it’s own. However, I also enjoyed digging deeper into the conflict and the minor characters to create its final version. In “The Best Laid Plans” Darcy and Elizabeth mistakenly send letters to one another a few weeks after the Netherfield Ball. In Letters from the Heart, nearly every character’s life changes due to a letter. Interestingly enough, I just rewrote the blurb for Letters from the Heart. In it, I focus on the relationship between Darcy and Elizabeth.

Going back to the prompt of swapping Emma Woodhouse and Catherine Morland. While many things might and must change with such an alteration. Not a soul in either book would not be affected. Naturally, however, the greatest changes would center on the heroines and their love interests. That would be the central theme and what I would include in the blurb. The story, though, would contain all the nuanced changes for everyone else. How would Harriet change if Catherine were her friend instead of Emma? Isabella Thorpe probably doesn’t stand a chance on influencing Emma Woodhouse. Eleanor Tilney might take on a greater role instead. These are the things which a JAFF writer must consider when taking on a “wacky” prompt.

In Letters from the Heart, it is not just that Darcy and Elizabeth have accidentally sent letters. It’s that they both have confessed they love one another. How does the story change when Elizabeth realizes she loves Darcy early on? Well, I can assure you it’s not a smooth path to happily ever after!

What would inspire you to write a “wacky” story?