Written by JulieW
(10/21/2003 6:37 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, GR: Geography and Society, penned by Myretta
If you lived say,on Pendle Moor, miles away from any centre of commerce- just how did you get news,political, local, of fashions and the latest"thing"?
Fashions in clothes and especially furniture were during the 18th cenury were soemtimes years behind that available in the bright lights of London .
If a family was lucky enough to ahve conecctions in London or a town , then if postage was not an issue,lettre writing would have disemminated the news.Jane Austen indeed wrote letters to Cassandra from Bath with drawings of the latest designs in lace, for her approval before purhase.However letter wrting took time,and many women involved in the raisng of children simply had little time to keep up a correspondance.
Manuta makers kept in contact with London traders of silks etc( mercers) to discover the latest fashions.Provinial shopping could be good-Liverpool and Chester were good Northnern centrs as was York-but again one had to be able to travel to these places to purchase.
The pocket books mentioned by Tara were very usefulas they often included the leatest fashion styles for ladies- hair, bonnets, dress etc.If you can ever get to see a copy of Barbara Johnsons ablum ( produced in facsimile by Thames and Hudson) you will see lhundreds of clipings from these pocket books.Miss Johnson was an avid follower of fashion ( if she had known Jane Austen I swear she would have been the protoype for Mrs Allen).
Local drapers shops suchas Fordes often sent buyers to London to purchase goods.Pedlars often toured the country selling wares, and we know Jane Austen bought fabrics from them, from her letters.
Towrds the later part of the 18th century Ladies magazines were becoming more available to disseminate knowlegde.Newpapers were often shared around a neighbourhood .Local newspapers developed with rapidity during the 18th cnetury,bringing some political news but mostly local social news to many people.
The improvment of transport infrastructure during the 18th century was vastly important in improving peopels abiltiy to communicate and Turnpikes and canals have already been discussed below.But they again needed money-to pay teh toll and to afrod th method of transport chosen, so poor people could not afford, IMHO, travel on a regular basis for long distances.
And then we come to the weather.If it snowed( which it was most likely to do in the North during the winter) no amount of good tunpike road would assist you at all.Remember Mr Woodhouese panicking about the snow( on Chrsitmas Even when he was only visiting the Westons at Randalls- ?) His faers were not unfounded.arraiges could turnover in the snow( no grittting lorries were avaiable then).So the winter months would be confining.And lonely.
(On this point its worth bearing in mind the absolute necessity for these ladeis to be good managers of their hosueholds.Being snowed in for weeks and expected to feed a household with sevants would have been a nightmare if forward planning during the abundant summer months had not taken place.There were no shops near for essential supplies.Self sufficiency was necesary to survive.
We know that travel at night was usually kept to a minimum and that for the convieience of all special occasions would have been held at the time of the full moon.I suppose they prayed for a cloudless night.
Its not really surpriing then , is it , that in some respects teh north lagged behind the pats of teh country likelondon.distacne,weaterh,affordability - all these apects amd fashinalbe life hard to maintian.
We shall see what store these ladies placed on gentility and keeping up with fashion in manners and in commercial objects.It makes on wonder at the eforts they had to make to keep up with things, and sometiimes it is very easy for us to underestimate,lving in a time where I in, even now remote Lincolnshrie, can freely and enjoyably converse with you all over the world through the Internet.What those women would have givne for a connection in that sense
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