It’s February and it’s all about love, which makes it the perfect time to indulge in your love for Jane Austen (though many of us don’t need a reason!). Jane is the master of all things romance, and with six beautiful love stories, she’s given us a lifetime of inspiration.
Let’s step back into the 1800s and do things a little old-school. The young ladies and handsome gentlemen of the Regency didn’t have texting, Facebook and eHarmony to help them find and woo their special someone, but they did have letters. So much of Regency communication happened via letters, from simple day-to-day conversations to marriage proposals (and rejections!).
If you’re an Austenite, you already know how powerful and romantic a letter can be in a 19th century love story. We have Mr. Darcy’s game-changing letter in Pride and Prejudice, which plays a crucial role in changing Lizzie’s opinion of him, as through the letter she begins to understand his kindness and strength of character. And even Mr. Elton tries to court Emma with letters (even though that leads to a whole other misunderstanding!). But, one of the greatest love letters is Captain Wentworth’s letter to Anne Elliot in Persuasion. After she was forced to end their relationship nine years ago, the two meet again under new circumstances, and though there is pain and bitterness, old feelings are still there. Okay, ladies, I’m preparing you, get ready to swoon. He writes,
“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in
I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.” –Jane Austen, Persuasion.
Whew! Back to reality! Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and whether you have a special someone or have a best girl friend that you love and want to celebrate, it’s time to let that person how much you care! Today’s DIY(s) are Regency-inspired V-Day cards that you can whip up in an hour and can totally personalize with pictures and your favorite quotes. Here are some of the most romantic Jane Austen quotes that are perfect for your Valentine’s Day card:
1. “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you”- Pride and Prejudice
2. If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more.”- Emma
3. “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.”- Persuasion
4. “It darted through her with the speed of an arrow [that Mr. Knighley must marry no one but herself!]”- Emma
5. “I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own[…]”- Persuasion
6.“Tell me, have I no chance of succeeding?”- Emma
- Cardstock (various colors)
- Paper doilies (gold and white)
- Book pages/photocopies
- Picture of you and your handsome gentleman (or your favorite Austen couple!)
- Calligraphy pen
Card 1: Book Page Valentine
1. Cut your cardstock to size (the width should be the width of your book page) and fold down the middle
2. Glue down book page, leaving about 1 inch of space at the bottom
3. Cut the doily in half and glue on to card.
4. Write your favorite quote
Card 2: Doily Frame Valentine
1. Measure the diameter of the inside of the doily (mines was 2.5 inches).
2. Print and cut out your photo in a circle (with the dimension you just measured)
3. Cut out the inside of the doily
3. Glue down doily and photo on to the card
5. Write your quote and add any other designs
Here’s one more DIY, and this one is my favorite! I tea-stained paper to make it look old and then folded my letter according to the Regency-style of folding. I have to admit, I didn’t know there was a specific way to fold, but opening the letter made me feel just like Lizzie! Trust me, definitely try this out; your loved ones will absolutely adore receiving one.
- White printer paper
- Baking pan
- Black tea (loose or tea bags will work)
- Hot water
- Paper towels
- Calligraphy pen
1. Brew a strong cup of tea and let cool to room temperature
2. Place a piece of paper into the pan and pour tea on top
3. Let paper soak for about 5 minutes and then let it dry on paper towels (this might take a while, so feel free to use a blow dyer!)
4. Write your letter!
5. Fold! Fold in lengthwise side to meet the middle, then fold the other side (It should make 3 “sections”). Fold up 2 times. Have the last section a little shorter so you can place your seal.
6. Address it with a flourish, seal, and send it along!
A little inspiration: All of Jane’s leading ladies, and Jane herself, had a special writing desk where they wrote all of their letters. To feel just like a regency lady, set up a small table and chair close to a window, close the door and write your letters (and Valentine’s Day cards) in peace in quiet. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!