The Turn of a Century: 18th-19th Century England
Prince Regent - 1816
Public DomainPrince Regent - 1816 - Credit: Sir Thomas Laurence
Protestant clergyman - 1814
Public DomainProtestant clergyman - 1814

Jane Austen lived during the reign of George III (if we include the short period of the Regency when his son, the Prince of Wales, took charge of the country while his father was sick). The last part of the Georgian era is the setting for Pride and Prejudice.

Jane Austen was the daughter of a clergyman, and the clergy had a special place in her books. Though she loved her father, she was still ready to show all sides of the clergy.  To be a clergyman in those times was to take on a job like any other. It didn't required a strong faith nor foregoing hopes of forming a family. The living of a clergyman actually gave him an opportunity to start a family sooner than in other professions, such as the military.



Battle of Waterloo - 1820
Public DomainBattle of Waterloo - 1820 - Credit: Robinson

The Industrial Revolution was just beginning. It was also a period of turmoil in society and politics, with the losses of the American colonies (made official in 1783, though they had declared their independence in 1776), the French Revolution (1789-1799) and the Napoleonic wars (1803-1815).



Austen was writing at the end of the Age of Enlightenment, when society was becoming more secular, and advances in science and philosophy were challenging old ways of thinking and old models of society. In 1790 Mary Wollstonecraft published A Vindication of the Rights of Women, one of the earliest feminist texts, which challenged previously-held views of women's role in society.

Royal crescent
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeRoyal crescent - Credit: MousyBoyWithGlasses, Flickr
Landscape River, 1768-1770
Public DomainLandscape River, 1768-1770 - Credit: Thomas Gainsborough

The end of the Enlightenment also ushered in the Romantic Age in literature and culture. Writers such as Goethe, Schiller, Stendhal, Pushkin, and in England, Byron, Blake, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats were all active during the period spanning the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries. In music, this was the time of Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn.

Fictional places in real surroundings

Jane Austen was careful to place her characters in fictional towns and estates, but she still kept a great degree of realism. Even if the Longbourn and Netherfield estates are imagined, we still know their distance from each other and from London, and their location in the county of Hertfordshire. Likewise, though Mr Collins's Hunsford and the Rosings estate are fictional, we have every detail and step of his journey from his home in Kent to Longbourn.

The same applies to Lambton and Pemberley. Austen grounds these fictional places in the real landscape of the Peak District which surrounds them, lending them a solid reality.

Creative Commons AttributionFields - Credit: G4EGK, Flickr


Hertfordshire towns
Public DomainHertfordshire towns

Hertfordshire is bordered by Essex to the east, Greater London to the south, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire to the north and Buckinghamshire to the west.

The population of the county in 1801 was 97,577; it was 1,078,400 by 2008.

At the time, the county was mostly owned by the gentry, who found it convenient for trips into London.


Aldbury, Hertfordshire
Creative Commons AttributionAldbury, Hertfordshire - Credit: Draco2008, Flickr






Ebury way - Hertfordshire
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeEbury way - Hertfordshire - Credit: Bob McCaffrey, Flickr
Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeScotney Castle, Lamberhurst - Credit: Lincolnian (Brian), Flickr

Because of its fertile, abundant fields, Kent has been called "The Garden of England".

Creative Commons AttributionOrchard - Credit: burge5000, Flickr









The 1,150 square mile county was home to 1.7 million people in 2008, but only 307,624 in 1801 (still 3 times more than Hertfordshire in the same period).






Wye field
Creative Commons AttributionWye field - Credit: whereareyousimon, Flickr

Half the border of Kent is its coast; Sussex lies to the south, Surrey to the west, Greater London to the north-west and Essex to the north.


Public DomainKent - Credit: Wereon, Wikipedia Commons













Leeds Castle
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeLeeds Castle - Credit: Diliff, Wikipedia Commons
Creative Commons AttributionDerbyshire - Credit: Kevin Hutchinson, Flickr

Located in the Midlands, Derbyshire includes much of the Peak District.

Public DomainDerbyshire - Credit: Wereon, Wikipedia Commons












161,142 people lived in Derbyshire in 1801. In 2008 there were just over a million.



The region boasts many prehistoric sites as it has been inhabited since at least 12,000 BCE and was visited by human ancestors as early as the paleolithic era, around 200,000 years ago.


Public DomainHayfield - Credit: Dave Dunford, Wikipedia Commons










The geology of the region made mining an important local industry as early as the 16th century. Derbyshire boasts many spectacular views and has been a tourist attraction since the beginning of the 19th century.  The coming of the railways brought industrial development to the county.


Harthill Moor
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeHarthill Moor - Credit: Alun Salt, Flickr