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Austen and Michaelmas

September 28, 2019 by in category Writing tagged as , , , ,

Quarter Days

I’m back with another Quarter Days’ post about Michaelmas

True Janeites (fans of Jane Austen) might be interested in a fun website I stumbled across while researching a story I have in the works.

The “Chronology of Pride and Prejudice, according to MacKinnon and Chapman” takes us through the detailed timeline of P&P’s events. (Oh, to be such a renowned author that fans prepare a chronology for your novel.) I don’t know about my fellow A Slice of Orange authors, but I always have to check and double-check that I have the story days correct.

Jane Austen

Mr. Bingley moves in

Pride and Prejudice begins when Mr. Bingley takes the lease to Netherfield Manor and moves in.

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, Quarter Days might be occasions for feasting and parties, but they also had a commercial significance. Contracts were entered into or terminated, property was leased, and rents and wages were paid. Thus, as the story begins, a wealthy bachelor in need of a wife kicks off the story by becoming a neighbor of Mr. Bennet, a man with five unmarried daughters.

A later period than the Regency (note the beard).

And Mr. Bingley has been kind enough to bring along an even richer bachelor friend! Well of course; late summer/early autumn was also the start of hunting season, when a man might welcome parties of friends to tramp through his fields and shoot birds. Mr. Bingley would want to show off his new domain to his influential friend, Mr. Darcy.

The Glorious Twelfth

Hunting season started on the Glorious Twelfth of August, after the social and parliamentary season ended. Presumably farmers had finished the harvest, so the crops were safe from hordes of hunters.

Grouse

Bird season began a bit later, in September running through October. Hunting in Britain was very much dominated by the elites, even during periods of economic downturn and food scarcity. Ownership of weapons and even dogs was restricted, and penalties for poaching might include transportation. (See my post about this topic.)

Autumn was prime house party season also because families had shipped off their young males to boarding school in time for the Michaelmas term. No young boys would be running about distracting the shooters or worse, accidentally shooting themselves in the foot. They’d be back home though for the next Quarter Day, Christmas, which is when I’ll return to A Slice of Orange. See you then!

For more about Michaelmas, take a look at my earlier posts: Michaelmas Goose, and A Michaelmas Menu.

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