36 free quilt blocks, one a week with a guide to Jane Austen's England and posts about the people in her life.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Block 30: Caroline’s Choice for Queen Caroline

Block # 30 Caroline’s Choice for Queen Caroline by Becky Brown

Portrait of Caroline (1768-1821) by James Lonsdale, 
painted about the time she became Queen in 1820

The future King George IV was a bigamist in the eyes of many, including his first wife. In 1785 he married Maria Fitzherbert, knowing her Catholicism would disqualify him from assuming the throne.

James Gillray’s political cartoon of the wedding to 
Mrs. Fitzherbert, 1787

Ten years later, ridiculously in debt, he agreed to wed a Protestant princess from a German state, the traditional source of Hanoverian brides, hoping that grateful parents and Parliament would increase his allowances. Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel was chosen and ferried with great pomp to England by a fleet of British Navy ships (on one of which sailed Frank Austen.)

James Gillray, The Morning of the Marriage, 1795

The miserable royal union began in 1795. George immediately showed contempt for his bride. Historians have blamed her grooming, her conversation and her taste for German jokes for the failure of their marriage, but the problem was George's legendary irresponsibility and fickleness.

Caroline's Choice by Bettina Havig

Nine months after the honeymoon Caroline gave birth to the necessary heir, Princess Charlotte Augusta.

Court scandals inspired much newspaper copy and conversation. The Austen girls and their friends would have been particularly interested because the royal honeymoon was spent at Kempshot House, about five miles from Steventon Rectory.

George, the Prince of Wales, rented Kempshot House as a Hunting Lodge and spent much time with Mrs. Fitzherbert here before bringing Princess Caroline for their honeymoon.

After the honeymoon fiasco, the Prince let the lease go. Other aristocrats moved in and issued invitations to the Austens for balls and hunting, so the family knew the house well.

James Gillray, “Left with the Baby,” 
cartoon sympathetic to the new Princess

Prince George’s treatment of his wife and his daughter provided gossip for the rest of Jane Austen’s life.

Princess Caroline and her rumored Italian lover. 
Cartoonists loved to lampoon her fashion and figure as she aged.

Caroline moved to Italy providing scandals of her own. Jane took sides, writing to Martha Lloyd in 1813.
“Poor woman, I shall support her as long as I can, because she is a Woman, & because I hate her Husband — but I can hardly forgive her for calling herself ’attached & affectionate” to [the Prince] a Man whom she must detest….If I must give up the Princess, I am resolved at least always to think that she would have been respectable, if the Prince had behaved only tolerably by her at first.”

The feuding couple by Cruickshank

After Jane’s death in 1817 relations between the royal couple deteriorated to new lows. King George IV tried unsuccessfully to bring a suit for divorce and refused to allow Queen Caroline to attend his 1821 coronation, encouraging more hostility from his subjects.

This monochromatic panel celebrating “Her Most Gracious Majesty, Caroline Queen of England’ was probably printed in 1820-21 when the new King was denying his wife her position.

Queen Caroline quilt, collection of St Fagan’s National History Museum, Cardiff.
©V&A Images, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Read more about this quilt in a post when the quilt was exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 2010:

Caroline's Choice by Dustin Cecil. Dustin changed the shading to get a different look.

Caroline’s Choice

Blockbase #1026.5

Queen Caroline died mysteriously and conveniently three weeks after the Coronation at the age of 53. The “poor woman” really had very little control over the important choices in her life such as marriage and raising her daughter, but she did choose to live independently. Caroline’s Choice was given the name by the Nancy Cabot column in the Chicago Tribune in the 1930s. The block is similar to the design in the period quilt above.

Cutting a 12” Block

A - Cut 2 squares 7-1/4”. Cut with 2 diagonal cuts to make 4 triangles.

You need 8 large triangles.

B- Cut 8 squares 3-7/8” Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You need 16 small triangles.


Caroline’s Choice by Georgann Eglinski
See more about the Royals and the Austens at Kempshot House in a post at the Austen Only blog here:


"Gracious Queen Caroline", china in a case at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Problem with the Email Notifications

"He's in a sulk because he's not getting his
Austen Family Album emails."

Many of you have notified me that you are not getting the email notifications for this blog. It's nice to get the information in your email box rather than just checking in once a week.

I have been looking for a solution to the problem. I have several blogs and this, I think, is the only one that is giving us problems. The email subscriptions are handled by something called Feedburner. I did find information from  Feedburner Help Group. It says the blog posts have to be under a certain size to be processed. I have thought mine were under that limit but I see the advice is to never copy your blog text from a word file.

I always copy my blog text from word files.

"You haven't, Miss Austen, been pasting
text from Word files!"

Apparently this adds too much formatting, which adds size. I will reformat the next post and hope that works.

I subscribe by email myself so I will see if I get a notice next week on the new post.

 If you have been peeved by missing emails I hope you get one next week. Do let me know in the comments or email me at MaterialCult@gmail.com

As for my reprehensible habit of copying text from Word files---it's going to be a hard habit to break.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Block 29: Lend & Borrow for James Stanier Clarke

Block 29: Lend & Borrow for James Stanier Clarke by Becky Brown

James Stanier Clarke (1766–1834)

The Reverend James Stanier Clarke was a link between Jane Austen and the Prince Regent. Clarke was Naval Chaplain on the H.M.S. Jupiter, the ship that brought the Regent’s German fiancé to England in 1795. (Jane’s brother Frank Austen was also in that fleet on another ship.) Twenty years later we find Clarke as librarian (and perhaps chaplain) to the Prince Regent, issuing an invitation to Jane Austen to visit Carlton House and tour the library.

Carlton House was the Prince Regent’s residence,
 torn down after he built Buckingham Palace while King George IV.

Lend and Borrow by Becky Brown

In Jane Austen’s England women often wrote anonymously and Jane’s books were authored “By a Lady,” Brother Henry had a hard time keeping Jane’s growing literary fame a secret. When he was recovering from a serious illness, so serious the royal family’s physician had been called in to consult, Henry bragged about his sister as the author of Pride and Prejudice. The physician apparently told the Regent and the Regent asked his librarian to invite the lady to the palace and request she dedicate her next book to her sovereign.

 Illustration of a bookshop from Dr. Syntax.
It’s hard to believe the Prince Regent actually read the books
 he collected but he seems to have enjoyed Jane’s books so 
much he kept copies at each royal residence.

Jane’s personal views of the Regent were irrelevant. She did as she was asked and Emma has a royal dedication.

Emma was, like Jane’s earlier books, published as a series. 
Readers subscribed to the series by paying ahead 
and subsidizing the printing costs.

Jane and Clarke continued a correspondence after her visit and he has earned a pompous reputation for requesting that she write a book based on his experiences. She declined but for her family wrote a short satirical Plan of a Novel based on unsolicited advice from her readers.

The Reverend Mr. Clarke seems to be Jane’s fictional 
Reverend Mr. Collins come to life.

BlockBase #3166

We can remember Rev. Clarke and Jane’s brush with royalty in Lend and Borrow, the perfect block for a librarian, given the name by the magazine The Woman’s World about 1930.

Cutting a 12” Block

A - Cut 9 squares 3-1/4” (5 light  and 4 light). Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You need 9 light and 7 dark of the small triangles.

B - Cut 1 square 12-7/8”. Cut in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You need 1 large triangle.

C - Cut 1 square 8”. Cut in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You need 1 medium-sized triangle.


Lend and Borrow by Bettina Havig with an applique floral
done Broderie-Perse style.

View of the Carlton House Library from Ackermann’s periodical

Lend and Borrow by Dustin Cecil

Read more about the royal librarian here at Laura Boyle's post, James Stanier Clarke: Librarian to the Prince of Wales.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Block 28: Crossroads for Harris Bigg-Wither

Block 28:  Crossroads for Harris Bigg-Wither by Georgann Eglinski

Harris Bigg-Wither (1781-1833)

Romantic marriages were not the norm in Jane Austen’s England, where class, family, money and social standing motivated upperclass mothers to settle their daughters in a family saturated in wealth or titles.

Vintage Embroidered picture

Faded gentry like the Austens had less lofty goals. A good home was an attractive trade, personified in the character of Charlotte Lucas who marries Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice.

Recent embroidered picture of Mr. Collins and
Charlotte Lucas by Willow Tree Stitcher

Jane came close to making a similar trade when she accepted the proposal of Harris Bigg-Wither, younger brother of her friends Alathea and Catherine Bigg. While spending a winter holiday with the family at their estate Manydown Park, almost-27-year-old Jane received a proposal from 21-year-old Mr. Bigg-Wither, heir to the estate. With that proposal came promise of a secure future, a mansion and a respected place in local society. Jane accepted.

Jane often visited her childhood friends at 
Manydown Park. Illustration by Ellen Hill.

…And  immediately had second thoughts. It may have been his youth and unromantic demeanor, but I like to think that she realized she would also be trading independence for the conventional status of helpmeet, mother, hostess, and femme covert, a covered woman with no legal rights.

The Dancing Master’s Ball by Isaac Cruickshank.
 Jane Austen and Harris Bigg-Wither grew up dancing at Manydown.

Despite Cousin Eliza’s falling for Henry Austen who was ten years younger, shy younger brothers of one’s girlfriends rarely excite romantic feelings in 27-year-olds.

Silk embroidered picture

Jane was quite familiar with the strict social rules for engagements and proposals. Her novels are based on the prevailing standards of romance, love and propriety. A woman might never declare her feelings first. The man had the right to declare his love or admiration and ask for her hand. She had the right to refuse gracefully.

Illustration for Northanger Abbey by Charles E. Brock

Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey compares marriage to dancing: “In both, man has the advantage of choice, woman only the power of refusal.”

Crossroads by Dustin Cecil

Jane’s acceptance and then rejection was right on the edge of propriety. Women were permitted to change their minds without completely ruining their reputations. Men breaking engagements could be considered a cad and sued for “breach of promise.”

The whole matter was mortifying. Jane’s social faux-pas forced her to cut her visit short. She and Cassandra hurried back to Steventon, a few miles away, and then on to their home in Bath.

Fashion Plate 1808

Mr. Bigg-Wither’s sisters were miffed about the broken engagement but the long-term friendship revived after a cool period between the families. Two years after Jane rejected Mr. Bigg-Wither he married another woman. Alathea and Catherine moved household to Winchester and were very kind when Jane was afflicted by her last illness, helping her find a place to stay near her doctor in the larger city.

BlockBase  #1963

Crossroads by Bettina Havig

Crossroads, an old pattern given the name by the Needlecraft Supply Company in 1938, can represent Harris Bigg-Wither’s proposal and Jane’s night of indecision. At this crossroads she again chose an independent path.

Cutting a 12” Block

A - Cut 4 squares 5”.

B - Cut 12 squares 2-3/8”. Cut each in half with a diagonal cut to make 2 triangles.

You need 24 triangles.

C - Cut 3 squares 4-1/4”. Cut with 2 diagonal cuts to make 4 triangles.

You need 12  triangles.
D - Cut 1 square 3-1/2”.


Crossroads by Becky Brown

Illustration by Hugh Thomson

See an essay in PDF form at Jane Austen’s House Museum site about women, courtship and power.

Jane's sister-in-law Mary Lloyd Austen told her younger daughter Caroline the story of the tearful return to Steventon and years later Caroline in her memoir of her aunt wrote:
"To be sure she should not have said yes---overnight---but I have always respected her for the courage in cancelling that yes---the next morning."

Crossroads by Becky Brown