Announcing Cotton Spandex Jersey!
Jane Austen lived from 1775 to 1817 within a broader stylistic period around 1800 commonly known as Regency.
The industrial revolution was only just underway. Personal travel was by foot or (more exorbitantly) in a horse-drawn carriage. Goods went by water - canals, rivers and seas. Bricks were still hand-made (the brickwork shown here is English Bond with a diamond diaper pattern). Outright property ownership was a big deal in an era when women were still generally not allowed to own anything at all but were instead themselves regarded largely as property.
The pianoforte had been invented and plenty of the greatest composers had already written keyboard works. Musicianship (reading music and playing an instrument or singing) was a fairly standard accomplishment for the upper middle classes - and one of the few activities permitted for women, beyond basic reading and writing. Schooling was limited to private tuition and work was for the lower classes.
Other things permitted to these pampered pets kept in enforced idleness were further artistic endeavours such as sketching, painting and embroidery. They could also go shopping for fripperies (ribbons and bonnets), provided someone gave them money, or take a stroll and pick some wild flowers. Playford had long since compiled "The English Dancing Master" and balls were a rare opportunity for men and women to have physical contact.
The postal service had not yet been reformed and, while letter-writing was wide-spread amongst the literate, there were no envelopes. Letters were charged (at a very high rate) by the sheet of paper. So this paper was typically first folded and unfolded, to establish the concealed writing area, then covered in dense handwriting in multiple orientations, refolded, addressed and sealed with wax of some kind.
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