Jane Austen Knits 2015
Many of us remember our first “Austen encounter”: the moment we realized that, despite her vivid settings in a particular place and time, Jane also wrote about eternal themes of love, duty, and family. It’s this combination of timelessness within a specific historical moment that keeps me coming back.
In the millennium before Austen lived, the purpose of marriage had been to benefit two extended families, from royals down to the humblest peasant families. As she wrote, romantic expectations began to compete with older traditions, refocusing on the emotional bonds between husband and wife, parent and child. Jane captured the tension between these different understandings of marriage and family.
As I put together this magazine, it seemed the perfect time to re-experience Jane’s world. So out came all the novels, most of the recent movie or television adaptations, and related features such as Lost in Austen and Miss Austen Regrets (a new discovery that moved me to tears). I could even double up on immersion, knitting a Jane Austen Knits pattern while listening to an autobook reader bring the characters to life. Each time I listen, read, or watch, new elements of the stories pop out at me.
Editing this issue deepened my appreciation of the Authoress. The feature stories thrilled my historian’s heart—read on and you’ll see why. Imagine selecting yarn colors to suit particular characters, then staging photos to elicit different settings. I now know these novels and their world more intimately than I’d ever imagined. Though my first Austen encounter was great, the most recent ones have been even better.
Deborah Gerish, editor
- The Landscape of Jane’s World, Bonnie-Lynn Nadzeika
- Romance for the Romantics, Brenna A. Barks
- Steps to the Altar: Betrothal and Marriage in Regency England, Mary Polityka Bush
- If the Bennets Went to York: Northern England in the Regency Era, Sarah-Jane Stratford
- Fashion Before Godey’s Lady’s Book: How Styles Traveled Through Jane Austen’s World, Brenna A. Barks
- Endings & Beginnings, Amy Clarke Moore