Central Oregon–Jane Austen, who was born in 1775, lived through a time of great upheaval— England on the brink of the Industrial Revolution, France on the verge of a revolution—and soon, both countries would be at war with each other: a war that would continue for most of Austen’s life, until her death in 1817. Yet, for those like Jane, living in the upper-middle classes—the Regency Era in England—was a time of opulence and ease.
According to Wikipedia, the Regency Era began in 1811 when George Augustus Frederick (George IV), Prince of Wales, began his nine-year tenure as regent and became known as the “Prince Regent.” This sub-period of the Georgian era began the formal Regency.
The Regency is noted for its elegance and achievements in the fine arts and architecture. This era encompassed a time of great social, political, and economic change. War was waged with Napoleon and on other fronts, affecting commerce and politics both at home and internationally. Despite the bloodshed and warfare, the Regency was also a period of great refinement and cultural achievement, shaping and altering the societal structure of Britain as a whole.
In 1814, The Times adopted steam printing. With this method, it could now print 1,100 sheets every hour, not 200 as before—a fivefold increase in production capability and demand. This development brought about the rise of the wildly popular fashionable novels in which publishers spread the stories, rumors, and flaunting of the rich and aristocratic—not so secretly hinting at the specific identity of these individuals. The gap in the hierarchy of society was so great that those of the upper classes could be viewed by those below as wondrous and fantastical fiction, something entirely out of reach yet tangibly there.
Bend author Collins Hemingway has written a well-researched novel about the Jane Austen that might have been in The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen Volume I. Volume I is the first in a trilogy of Jane Austen novels by Mr. Hemingway.
In a series of two talks, Hemingway discusses the Regency Era in England, covering a time in history that faced many of the same issues as today: divisive wars, labor unrest, political polarization on trade and race, and a technological revolution that dramatically undermined the middle class. How did Austen’s novels fit within the framework of this exciting and often violent period? How did the big issues affect her family and writing?
Join our presenter Collins Hemingway as we delve into the fascinating era of this world-renowned English author, Jane Austen.