Saturday 25th April 2020

Venue: Chawton House

***CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: Please note that, in light of recent Government recommendations, this event has been cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak. We will look to reschedule it and will be in touch with all ticket-holders soon regarding refunds/transfers.


Join leading fashion historian Hilary Davidson as she explores Regency dress, clothing, fashion and sewing through the lens of Jane Austen’s life and writings at this special event hosted by Chawton House, in conjunction with the Southern Counties Costume Society.

The afternoon will also include the opportunity to see some genuine Regency costumes up close in the atmospheric surroundings of Chawton House, affectionately known by Jane Austen as ‘the Great House.’

Jane Austen is, foremost, a social commentator. Dress is a nuanced social marker, and her novels use clothing and needlework to pinpoint niceties of character. Austen’s letters reveal a lively interest in clothes, alongside her concerns about how to dress well on limited income. During the author’s short life, unprecedented and accelerated change saw Britain’s turbulent entry into the modern age. Clothing reflected these transitions on local and global scales, and exploring the dress experiences of people who lived through Austen’s age goes a long way to understanding her work, her time, and its histories. In this talk, dress historian Hilary Davidson explores the lives and dress of the middle-class British gentry during the ‘long’ Regency (1795-1823) through the lens of Jane Austen’s life and writing, drawing on five years of research for her ground-breaking 2019 book.

£12/£10 Friends

Book online here or call us on 01420 541 010

About the Speaker

Hilary Davidson is a dress historian and curator with a remarkable breadth of knowledge and experience. After training as a bespoke shoemaker in Sydney, she moved to England for her MA in the History of Textiles and Dress, and became curator of fashion and decorative arts at the Museum of London. Hilary is currently completing a PhD in archaeological textiles at La Trobe, Melbourne, and is an Honorary Associate at the University of Sydney. For fifteen years she has lectured and published on fashion, textiles, and design history and theory, and has taught at many institutions in Australia and Europe. Hilary is also a consultant in historic textiles for the Oxford English Dictionary, is an editorial board member for the journal Fashion Studies, and has presented on a number of television programmes, including the BBC documentary Pride & Prejudice: Having a Ball (2013). Her reconstruction of Jane Austen’s pelisse coat led to this extensive study of British Regency dress, her first monograph. She is based between Sydney and London.