From the cradle to the grave, Austen's England was an era filled with fear, filth and fortitude. Roy and Lesley Adkins' book is a scholarly exploration of the nitty-gritty of everyday life from the point of view of the lower and middle classes: from the perils of childbearing and the horrors of surgery without anaesthetics to the bad breath of Austen's acquaintances. Issues seemingly untouched by Austen's novels are thoroughly examined: child labour in the mines and up chimneys, the 'Bloody Code' (capital punishment), and food shortages. Contemporary illustrations, diarists and writers including the kindly Parson Woodforde,John Byng and governess Nelly Weeton are used to give a window on the grubby realities of travel, food and drink, and servant problems in Georgian England. Austen's novels, life and letters are referenced throughout - 'Eavesdropping on Jane Austen' England' is a satisfying read for her fans.
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