What happened when Jane Austen’s heroines and heroes were finally wed?
Marriage is at the centre of Jane Austen’s novels. The pursuit of husbands and wives, advantageous matches, and, of course, love itself, motivate her characters and continue to fascinate readers today. But what were love and marriage like in reality for ladies and gentlemen in Regency England?
Rory Muir uncovers the excitements and disappointments of courtship and the pains and pleasures of marriage, drawing on fascinating first-hand accounts as well as novels of the period. From the glamour of the ballroom to the pressures of careers, children, managing money, and difficult in-laws, love and marriage came in many guises: some wed happily, some dared to elope, and other relationships ended with acrimony, adultery, domestic abuse, or divorce. Muir illuminates the position of both men and women in marriage, as well as those spinsters and bachelors who chose not to marry at all.
This is a richly textured account of how love and marriage felt for people at the time—revealing their unspoken assumptions, fears, pleasures, and delights.
Rory Muir is a visiting research fellow at the University of Adelaide and a renowned expert on British history. His books include Gentlemen of Uncertain Fortune and his two-part biography of Wellington, which won the SAHR Templer Medal.
“Muir’s well-informed, entertaining book surveys romantic love and marriage among the real-life counterparts of Austen’s characters in an England threatened with invasion and agitated by calls for political reform.”—Jenny McAuley, Financial Times
“Digs wide and deep into the historical record to provide a documentary account of what falling in love and living happily ever after really involved in late Georgian England.”—Kathryn Hughes, Sunday Times “Rory Muir’s comprehensive, elegant, and incisive book will delight readers by shedding new light on a subject that we thought we knew everything about, but didn’t.”—Paula Byrne, author of The Real Jane Austen
“An insightful exploration of Regency hearts and their entanglements. Muir’s elegant yet compassionate history vividly reveals the realities of love and marriage, along a spectrum from difficulty to delight.”—Hilary Davidson, author of Jane Austen’s Wardrobe
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