I'll be posting up a few Letters of Note-type posts in the run-up to Christmas and New Year, being as both are traditionally a time for stories and a reflection upon on the past. We'll begin with a long-ish morsel from Jane Austen, whose novels have indelibly influenced the way we look at the 19th century.
Given the reputations which Austen's novels have acquired as the epitome of all that is prim, proper and often dull about English life, it would be easy to assume that Austen herself didn't have much fun in her spare time. In fact, this letter to her sister from 1800 is evidence she was as much a fan of parties as the next woman, and just as capable of being witty and flirtatious as any of the men in her novels. At first glance her letter, written when she was hungover, seems as stiff and restrained as any passage in her books; at second glance, it reads like the 19th century equivalent of a Facebook post about how great last night's drinking spree was.
You can read Austen's letter in full here. I'll be reviewing Austenland, a heavily flawed comedy based on her work, some time in 2016. In the meantime you can either read my thoughts on Pride and Prejudice (from my WhatCulture! article on Keira Knightley), or click here for a more sobering piece on alcohol, courtesy of Anton Chekhov.