Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist—the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England

Rate this book
A "delightful reader's companion"; (The New York Times) to the great nineteenth-century British novels of Austen, Dickens, Trollope, the Brontës, and more, this lively guide clarifies the sometimes bizarre maze of rules and customs that governed life in Victorian England.

For anyone who has ever wondered whether a duke outranked an earl, when to yell "Tally Ho!" at a fox hunt, or how one landed in "debtor's prison"; this book serves as an indispensable historical and literary resource. Author Daniel Pool provides countless intriguing details (did you know that the "plums" in Christmas plum pudding were actually raisins?) on the Church of England, sex, Parliament, dinner parties, country house visiting, and a host of other aspects of nineteenth-century English life—both "upstairs" and "downstairs."

An illuminating glossary gives at a glance the meaning and significance of terms ranging from "ague" to "wainscoting," the specifics of the currency system, and a lively host of other details and curiosities of the day.

416 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1993

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Daniel Pool

13 books16 followers
Daniel Pool has spent most of his adult life teaching and practicing law in New York City. His first book, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew (Simon & Schuster, 1993) has sold more than 80,000 copies. It was an alternate selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club, QualityPaperback Book Club, and the History Book Club, as is his second book, Dickens' Fur Coat and Charlotte's Unanswered Letters (HarperCollins, Spring 1997). He lives in New York City.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,414 (25%)
4 stars
2,218 (40%)
3 stars
1,601 (28%)
2 stars
256 (4%)
1 star
51 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 599 reviews
Profile Image for matthew.
133 reviews20 followers
September 29, 2007
i love shit like this. nothing pleases me more than to know the proper table setting for a victorian outdoor tea (though you wouldn't know it to watch me eat). regardless of that, sadly, this book (which i read immediately before it) did not help me understand what the damned peasants in "the return of the native" were saying, and, then, spark notes ruined that work for me, as detailed in my review, thereof. hardy might have been proud of that sentence, tho'. but that's all to the side. if you want to address the proper maid (should such an eventuality, darkly, fall upon you), this is your a-z.
Profile Image for Anne.
405 reviews76 followers
May 20, 2022
I was excited to read What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew, a non-fiction trip into nineteenth century England once I saw the table of contents. Everything I need to know for better understanding of classic books is found here. It (includes and) goes beyond the typical topics such as social customs, clothing, calling cards, and housing to answer my curiosity on currency and the calendar, rules of Whist and card games, “Crime and Punishment,” “Sex,” occupations, “The Workhouse,” disease, doctors, and death to name a few. There is so much useful and interesting information in this book that it would be a wonderful resource to keep on your shelf. And the vast number of literary references (everything from Jane Austen to the Bronte’s to Trollope) there is sure to be at least some books mentioned that are known to novice and seasoned readers alike. Additionally, the one hundred- and thirty-five-page glossary is quite thorough. Plus, it has an extensive bibliography and index.

Unfortunately, despite this amazing collection of information, the book reads like a textbook and a dry one at that. While I loved the book references, there were so many, and many not only unknown to me but I wasn’t sure what the reference was referring to (whether it was a title, author or a character in the book), that I found it interrupted my reading. While the topics were of interest to me, I ended up skimming sections. The illustrations/maps/charts were either too small to read the content or too dark to appreciate the details. However, as a strict nineteenth century England reference book, it is a great resource to have on hand.

Profile Image for Manybooks.
3,128 reviews104 followers
February 22, 2022
So yes, I finally have managed to find a very gently used (read almost new and unblemished) copy of Daniel Pool’s 1993 What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist—the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England at my local independent bookshop in late January and immediately decided to purchase it, since the asked for price was only five dollars Canadian, including all required sales taxes.

For well, I have indeed always wanted to own a personal copy of What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist—the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England ever since I read my roommate’s copy in the summer of 1998 during my final year as a graduate student at the University of Waterloo, but I was also not willing to pay a lot of money. And thus, the five dollar price tag for What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist—the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England totally did fit the proverbial bill so to speak, and I very quickly grabbed and bought the book (since I was both ecstatic to finally locate a copy of What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist—the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England in a price range I could totally and absolutely live with and was also more than somewhat worried that my fiancé’s daughter would perhapsspot and grab the book if I did not).

Now you are probably wondering why since I have wanted to own a copy of What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist—the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England for my personal library since 1998, I have obviously also been pretty much adamant about only really being willing to pay a pretty low price (and with my absolute limit being between fifteen to twenty dollars, and yes, this would also have to include any and all shipping costs if I found What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist—the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England for purchase online on ABE Books and other similar sites).

And for me, the main reason for not being willing to shell out a lot of money for What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist—the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England, this totally and utterly is that while when I borrowed my roommate’s copy of What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist—the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England, I very much enjoyed perusing Daniel Pool’s presented contents, I found his textual descriptions of what daily life was generally like in 19th century England both fun and educational, and yes, that What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist—the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England equally totally accomplished what I was hoping for in the summer of 1998, with the book functioning basically as a very necessary and required break or more to the point reading therapy whilst I was struggling to finish the last two chapters of my PhD dissertation (and thus needing a book like What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist—the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England, requiring a non fiction research oriented text that was both entertaining and also still sufficiently educational and as such not too unserious, since I was in dissertation mode and while in need for some reading rest and relaxation also still requiring themes and contents sufficiently academic in scope and as such not too trivial, but also trivial enough to be fun and not too intellectually taxing and/or potentially confusing), I did and still do find What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist—the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England rather not academically solid and sufficiently intellectually stimulating enough, in other words a bit too unserious, a bit too trivial to warrant a high price and to also warrant recommending What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist—the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England for serious academic reading and research (as there are indeed some annoying errors present and that Daniel Pool also seems to sometimes mesh the Regency and the Victorian eras together into a mildly annoying mess).
Profile Image for Katie Lumsden.
Author 1 book2,824 followers
July 26, 2018
Maybe 2.5. This book has a lot of useful and interesting information in, but it's presented in a very dry way. It reads more like a textbook than anything else. I also take slight issue with the amount of novels it spoils, and the fact it fails to distinguish between words, concepts and traditions that were 19th century or are simply British. Overall, a mixed bag.
Profile Image for Mary Lou.
998 reviews18 followers
February 20, 2020
This is an amazing resource for anyone who enjoys 19th century English literature. I made a mistake by sitting down and trying to read it cover to cover (well... the first section, at least - not the wonderful glossary). There is so much information packed in this book that reading it straight through is a bit overwhelming, and no good for retention. What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew is best kept close by on the coffee table, ready to be called into service any time Dickens, Austen, Eliot, Hardy or others mention something unfamiliar to the 21st century reader. Whether it's determining the difference between a cabriolet and a curricle, figuring out what's in all those puddings, or learning what a hogshead is, Pool has the answers.
Profile Image for ALLEN.
553 reviews121 followers
July 11, 2018
A fun and informative book, but occasionally a little disjointed. Daniel Pool, an American lawyer by training, a lover of British novels by avocation, really digs into the the customs, mores and behaviors of Nineteenth Century Englanders. He illustrates his discussion of elaborate balls, courting rituals, stylish dress, transportation, education, royalty and aristocracy, city and country life and so much more by referencing characters from period novels -- not only Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, but also Anthony Trollope, Thomas Hardy, George Eliot and Thackeray's VANITY FAIR among others. Great fun for students of history and lovers of literature as well.

And that's not all--the first portion of the book is followed by 120 pages of glossary, with an eye to the archaic or obsolescent features of life that have modern readers scratching their heads: why "public schools" mean almost the opposite of what they do in the USA, horse-and-carriage terminology, military slang, those perplexing coinages of pre-decimal currency, gone-forever job titles, the menace of "entailment" and much more.
Profile Image for Abigail Bok.
Author 4 books191 followers
July 21, 2019
This book is a broad survey of how life was led in England over the course of the nineteenth century. It addresses both material and social arrangements, with a few dips into economics and history.

As you might imagine from such a broad mandate, it treats its many subjects shallowly; nevertheless it offers a wealth of detail that illuminates many confusing or half-understood elements of British fiction.

This book is better dipped into as a reference source than read through from cover to cover. When the chapters are read in order, one finds certain bits of information recurring here and there, and described in exactly the same terms more than once. It has an enormous glossary that will probably be the most useful part of the book for readers. Writers of historical fiction set in nineteenth-century England should take the time to read it all, slowly and carefully; they will learn much that will rescue their stories from error.
Profile Image for Susan.
597 reviews78 followers
June 13, 2008
It's not exactly everything one needs to know about nineteenth-century England, but it does a fine job at hitting upon most of the little knowledge gaps that can crop up for modern readers of Dickens, Hardy, Trollope, Austen, and their contemporaries. Particularly devoted readers of such Brit Lit may be surprised at how many times they are struck with a sense of dawning clarity and realization as they peruse this book---whether by the discovery of the name and rules of the card game Rawdon Crawley is so blasted good at, the finer points of entail, or the difference between a "heath" and a "moor." Don't expect any witty asides from Pool; he's far more content to attend to the business of covering as many details as concisely as possible. In the end, this isn't such a bad thing as the book does do its job as a handy reader's companion.
Profile Image for David Eppenstein.
688 reviews165 followers
March 19, 2019
Anyone that is interested in the classic 19th century British novels, novels centered on 19th century British life, or 19th century British history would be greatly assisted by possession of a copy of this little book. It is a relatively short volume that reads like a combination almanac, compendium of antiquated British manners, social customs, and protocols. The author uses references to the classic novels of this era as a guide through life as it existed in the England of the 19th century from the Queen to the lowest level of British poverty. Needless to say Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Anthony Trollope are cited frequently. It is an interesting and informative little book that I will probably hold on to because of my weakness for books on nautical adventures during the Age of Sail. While it does focus on 19th century life I think it is also useful in explaining much of earlier British culture as well especially regarding the ranks and behavior of the nobility of England as that area of British life didn't seem to change a great deal until the 20th century. Enjoy.
Profile Image for Linda .
1,811 reviews257 followers
May 13, 2015
Covering the span of 19th century England, the author shared bits and pieces of what life would have been like if you lived back then. All I knew is that as a woman, I very much appreciate living now. Pretty much, if you were not a member of the peerage and/or royalty, you had a difficult life. And even then, nobility had a very controlled life; many things were expected of them. No wonder it was so easy to fall out with the ton!

Water, roads, sewerage and the air were, for the most part, deplorable if you lived in London. It was important to remember that technology was very different: coal was the driving force for most of the era with all its dirtiness. The plus side was most clothes were organic and they were easy to repair and hand down. There was no chemically processed synthetic fibers, PVC or Styrofoam to fill up landfills.

I shuttered to think of what was dumped directly into the Thames. "Streets were scavenged for cigar butts, and some of the poor collected dog mass or 'pure' as it was called- and then sold it to tanyards who used it in processing the morocco and leather for the kid gloves worn by the upper crust at fancy operas and balls". Cholera reared its head periodically because of the unsanitary conditions. I mention this but I know that New York, Paris and other large cities had just as many problems during the nineteenth century.

The author covered the law, postal system, orphans and the difference in treatment of women over time. I learned that if you were a female, it was rougher on you in Victorian times than the earlier part of the century.

Country life, a gentleman's home and what was to be expected, women's clothing and the private world made for some very interesting reading. The author referred to all classes of people.

This book was a glimpse of England during a rapid time of change. Sometimes sad and even very depressing, it was still interesting. As a big fan of historical romances from this era, I will probably be more critical as to the accuracy of what authors write. On a positive note, I appreciate all the time and research that goes into creating fiction.
Profile Image for Gail.
371 reviews9 followers
February 23, 2008
Sooo....wanna know who's who in the hierarchy of the Anglican church (you need this if you read Trollope, my little sweetie)? Would ya like to learn all those card games they played way back when people actually faced one another IN PERSON when playing a game? Care about old food, fashion, and social customs? Then this is the book for you. A great browser for when nothing suits and all is vile in litrachuah. I just loved this and wish I still had my copy.
Profile Image for Marsha.
Author 2 books33 followers
April 27, 2012
What is a lord chancellor? What, exactly, was a pound worth? How much weight was a “stone”? Is a peer a hereditary or bestowed title? Which of society members constitutes a peerage? Give up?

This is a comprehensive—at times almost staggeringly so—look at what life was like for the highborn and lowborn living in 19th-century England. It’s mainly a sort of glossary about those parts of novels written during this time that might baffle modern day readers but which would have been obvious to people living in those times.

Here, the ins and outs of 19th-century society, its mores, practices, titles, weather, privileges, rights, laws, etc., are explored in detail while using clear, comprehensible language for the layman. (However, the passages about the movements of Parliament, the House of Commons and other political parties tend to be rather dry and not as entertaining or as easy to follow as other parts of the book.)

Whether you're a reader who wants more insight about that Anthony Trollope novel you’re reading, a history student or merely curious about this period (what made London fog that sulphurous color anyway?), this book is a marvelous find and would make a great gift for the Austen-obsessed scholar.
Profile Image for Sobriquet.
256 reviews6 followers
December 13, 2018
This book describes 19th century life using short extracts from novels as examples. This is a great idea but I don't think that I'm the person the writer is aiming to instruct. He (Daniel Pool) assumes either that the reader has read the major works of Dickens ,Thomas Hardy and George Elliot, the Palliser and Barsetshire series by Trollope , all of Jane Austen and the Bronte Sisters, as well as Vanity Fair by Thackery , Or that they do not mind the plots of these books being partially revealed to them. Pool never actually recounts an entire plot but certain events such as character deaths, or significant events in the novels are glancingly mentioned in a way that would spoil a first reading of the novel.
What about if you have read all these books? well then the problem is that the reader is likely to already know a lot of the details of daily life in the 19th century. Therefore the ideal reader is someone who has no interest in reading 19th Century novels but has a fevered curiosity to read an overview of life and society in the 19th Century. For them I would recommend How to be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman as I think it gives more detail.
Profile Image for Nancy (essayist).
251 reviews6 followers
November 9, 2008
I was expecting more from this book. I knew it wasn't a scholarly treatise, but it bothered me that there was so little acknowledgement of the sources for the pronouncements here. It was also annoying that the author would sometimes reveal key details of the fictional works he referred to, along the lines of this kind of thing: "Prisons were quite grim places at the time as we see in So and So's great novel where the main character dies alone and peniless in prison." Uh, guess I won't bother reading that one!

Still, I guess this might not be a bad thing to have on the shelf as you're reading, if you want to look up something about marriage or schooling or the lives of vicars. But even then, I'm not sure how accurate everything here is.
Profile Image for Melissa McShane.
Author 58 books746 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
November 23, 2013
I'm not sure what to make of this. I found a mistake that suggested the author was depending on the wrong sources, which made me wonder about other possible inaccuracies, which in turn ruined my enjoyment of the book (and since I was reading it as research, I was doubly disappointed). A good starting point, but it might be a good idea to check anything you really need to know with another source.
Author 13 books24 followers
October 3, 2008
Good for general reading, but the author mixes the Victorian and the Regency eras together -- that's a 100 year spread. If you're looking for research, look elsewhere.
Profile Image for Kate.
40 reviews
January 6, 2018
I am a huge fan of Jane Austen and I enjoy reading the works of Charles Dickens. Emma, would be my favorite works of Jane Austen. I know most people enjoy and would say Pride and Prejudice, but Emma is more up my alley. As far as the works of Charles Dickens, I would have to say A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations and David Copperfield.

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew is a very informative book on the lives of those living in England in the 19th. The author, Daniel Pool though, makes the information interesting and I love how he intertwines the books of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. The book is divided into two parts. The first part tells about different topics in that time period (Society, Money, Government, The Church of England, Crime &Punishment, Transportation, Food and so on).

The second part of the book is a glossary of different words in the book that might need more explaining such as Orange Woman. Orange Woman/Women are the poorest of London street sellers. They were mostly young girls who sold oranges on the streets of London for money.

One area in the first part of the book that I really enjoyed reading about being Society (Etiquette, Rules of Dancing, Calling Cards and such). People could not just come and go as they pleased, to family and friends. The upper class wanted to screen I guess you could say who they wanted and did not want to see. A calling card would serve as a way for people to let others know they were in the area and wanted to call upon. When you called upon people you were given certain times and you would not stay longer than needed for the visit.

Another topic in the book that I enjoyed learning more about was Crime & Punishment. You did not have to do too severe a crime to be hanged. Take if someone was to steal someone else’s sheep, shoplifting, what have you, they could be hanged. When people were hanged their bodies were either used by surgeons for their anatomy class or the body would be chained and be hanging off the ground at a crossroad to serve as a deterrent to any passersby. They did not have many police officers and such so they would use the public displays as a way of telling people this could happen to you if you are not careful. The chapter goes on to talk about the way criminals would be tried and the way the hanging procedures would take place. Death for someone is a sport to people, we are afraid of it when it comes to ourselves but when it is someone else’s death it’s entertainment. Crowds would gather to watch the criminal getting hanged, we are curious about death I guess.

Marriage back in the 19th century was handled in a completely different way from today’s approaches. Women and men who were under the age of 21 could not be married unless they had their parents’ permission. Many men and woman due to this rule would elope if their parents did not respect their desires to marry. Also, if they wanted to be married at an earlier age. A lady and a gentleman never got married quick back then either. They had a format to follow such as courtship, talk of the lady’s dowry (men looked for companionship as well as finical security), social class of the lady’s background, Marriage settlement, the wedding would be announced in church (Church of England) three months from than would be the wedding. However, if you were really wealthy, you could pay for a special license that allowed you to get married when and where you wished.

All in all I very interesting and really eye-opening of a book. The 19th Century is not a favorite period of mine, but it is interesting none the less. I recommend this book to all those who enjoy Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. Also, to anyone who wants to learn how things have changed over the years and the formats people followed back then.
Profile Image for CatBookMom.
997 reviews
October 4, 2016
2016 - Re-reading for a Pride & Prejudice RAL

2015 -
Having waited for a price drop to below $10 on the Kindle edition, I have to say I am disappointed. Perhaps having read a few other, somewhat similar books, like Georgette Heyer's Regency World, I expected more than this book really offered.

First off, this is much more focused on the latter half of the 1800s than the Jane Austen/Regency era. Most of the references to literary cites and characters are to books by Dickens, Trollope and that era's authors. If that is your era of interest, then you may be more pleased with this book; I was hoping for more in the early 1800s era, around the Napoleonic Wars.

The first part of this book is a series of short essays on various topics, like fox hunting, carriages/transportation, dress for men and women, and the like. As far as this book goes, it's... OK, and the coverage of the topics ranges from good to sometimes disappointing. Sometimes within the same topic a nicely specific and precise explanation will dwindle into generalities. I found this very disappointing and occasionally, having 'turned the page', annoying to find that specific numbers had become 'many' or 'often'. In some cases, I felt that this was written at the level of a college research paper, no more. While there is a bibliography, there are no footnotes or reference links.

The second part of the book is a glossary, with very short (25 words or less) descriptions. There are no cross-references nor ways to jump in the ebook to the next alphabetical section, and I believe this might be much more useful a tool in print.
Profile Image for Tristram Shandy.
702 reviews200 followers
May 7, 2017
What Noah Claypole Had to Do as an Informer, and a Lot of Other Things

Reading Oliver Twist, I was always at a loss as when I came to the following passage:

”Mr. Noah Claypole, receiving a free pardon from the Crown in consequence of being admitted approver against Fagin, and considering his profession not altogether as safe a one as he could wish: was, for some little time, at a loss for the means of a livelihood, not burdened with too much work. After some consideration, he went into business as an informer, in which calling he realises a genteel subsistence. His plan is, to walk out once a week during church time attended by Charlotte in respectable attire. The lady faints away at the doors of charitable publicans, and the gentleman being accommodated with three-penny worth of brandy to restore her, lays an information next day, and pockets half the penalty.”

Why were the publicans fined for giving brandy to restore Charlotte, and why did the sneaking Noah Claypole receive half the penalty? This passage was direst Greek to me. After reading Daniel Pool’s insightful book with the rather lengthy title What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist – the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England, however, I now have a very clear understanding of what an informer actually was, and how one could make it a living, provided one were dastardly enough. This was, of course, not the only thing I learned from this book, which helped me to a more detailed understanding of many tricky distinctions made by Victorians. Just take a look at the legal system: There were barristers, solicitors, serjeants, attorneys, advocates and proctors (as everyone knows who read David Copperfield or Bleak House), but what were the differences between these? What was the exact relationship between the various scavengers feasting on litigation, such as Mr. Tulkinghorn, Conversation-Kenge, and the infamous Mr. Vholes? This book tells you. Or take the Church of England, with all its titles and offices, its bishops, deans, archdeacons, vicars, rectors, sextons, and what-nots, titles that were used offhandedly by Anthony Trollope. This book will help you get some insight into anything that is important to know for reading Barchester Towers. What is the difference between getting a marriage license, or a broomstick-marriage, such as Abel Magwitch had? Why did Helen Graham, the tenant of Wildfell Hall, not simply get a divorce from her dissolute husband but hide in the obscurity of the countryside? What is an entailment? And why did Mr. Bounderby’s mother take a parliamentary train when she was neither in the House of Commons nor in the House of Lords? Why did people generally seek to avoid a sojourn in a sponge-house, and what made being in a workhouse such a horrible thing? What did those prude and proper Victorians understand by “coming out”? All these things will be explained by Daniel Pool.

The book falls into two major parts: The first part tells you about the intricacies of Victorian life, its customs and social rules, e.g. about how fox hunts were organized. Even if you consider fox hunts silly and barbarous, some knowledge on them will prove helpful for the reader of Victorian novels, as there is probably hardly one Trollope novel where people do not go hunting sooner or later. The second part is a glossary, in which various terms of Victorian everyday life are explained. What Daniel Pool does not do, however, is give you some insight into Victorian history because he only concentrates on things that were mentioned in Victorian novels. As I said, I learned a lot from this book, and together with Ruth Goodman’s How to Be a Victorian, which concentrates more on everyday life in the Victorian era, and less on its social structure and customs, than Daniel Pool’s book, this little volume is indispensable to anyone who loves reading Victorian literature.
Profile Image for Mary Ann.
416 reviews37 followers
February 20, 2022
I never wrote a review for this as it's one of those things I've had for nearly twenty-five years. But I recently had occasion to check a point on debtors' prisons, and I was struck again by how fun and useful this book is, especially if one is, unlike myself, neither an English major or normally a big reader of 19th century English literature but who might be venturing into something by Austen, Dickens, Thackeray, Trollope, the Brontë sisters, Hardy, or Wilke Collins (all favorites of mine), novelists who, as a group, span the century. Pool is an entertaining writer who provides tons of information, often with humor, and also provides a useful background of some of the big parliamentary legislation of the century such as the Reform Act of 1932 and the two Women's Property Acts which are important in an understanding of the novels. Even for television viewers who avidly watched Downton Abbey, Upstairs, Downstairs, or either of the Forsyte Saga series, their enjoyment may be enhanced by a greater knowledge of the social customs and attitudes Pool illuminates in this book, many of which persisted well into the 20th century.
Profile Image for K.M. Weiland.
Author 32 books2,297 followers
June 22, 2014
I loved this book from the moment I read its title. It's a jolly delightful look at perhaps the most popular century ever. And the best part? It pays high tribute to the classic novels of the era - including Austen, Dickens, Eliot, Hardy and more. As a lover of all these authors, as well as the period in general, the book offered up one delight after another.

As other reviewers have noted, it does grow repetitious (sometimes word for word) in areas, but I suspect this is to make it more useful for those using as a reference manual. I read the book as research for an upcoming historical novel, and, although I read it straight through this time, I can see myself appreciating the repetition in places should I need to look up particular facts later on.

Honestly, I think I could stop my research right and be able to write the novel based just one the treasures found in this one book.
Profile Image for Ginnie.
520 reviews34 followers
August 11, 2018
Very interesting especially since I read a lot of books from this era. This book filled in a lot of blank spots in my knowledge about the nineteenth century.
Profile Image for Georgiana 1792.
1,843 reviews112 followers
February 11, 2021
However, the British both before and after 1826 also used the stone (fourteen pounds) as a unit of weight.

Beh, avrei voluto saperlo prima di leggere "Bridget Jones" (Nota Eroina Ottocentesca), per risparmiarmi i conti con il peso e ricavarmi da sola il valore di una 'pietra'.
Niente di nuovo: francamente grazie a internet e a dei buoni dizionari (e anche al buonsenso) non avevo bisogno di Daniel Pool per sapere che the Twelfth Night era la dodicesima notte dopo Natale, ovvero la vigilia dell'Epifania (dopo tutto esiste anche una certa commedia di un tale William Shakespeare), o che Michaelmas era il 29 Settembre (peraltro nei paesi cattolici il 29 Settembre è il giorno di San Michele, ma va'!?)
Comunque la lettura è scorrevole, e anche se molte cose le avevamo capite da soli, è comunque interessante ritrovarle tutte riunite in un unico volume, che potremo poi consultare in seguito durante la lettura dei classici della letteratura ottocentesca (a questo proposito, molto utile il 'glossario', anche se è senz'altro incompleto: il libro è indirizzato a un target di lettore medio, non agli studiosi che, logicamente conoscono il periodo ad un livello molto più approfondito).
Profile Image for Kristina.
1,214 reviews475 followers
September 14, 2019
2019 Review
What Jane Austen ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool is an excellent reference for all things 19th century British. For the most part, I read this cover-to-cover (skimming only the sections that gave too much detail about stuff I wasn't interested in) but I don't recommend that unless you really find this interesting. Pool covers pretty much everything from clothes to servants to money to government to modes of transportation. If you're reading the 19th century British classics and stymied about some of the details, this book could certainly help. Also, if you are aspiring to write (or currently writing) a romance novel set in the 1800s in the UK, this book will be very helpful. I can think of one novelist (Tessa Dare) whose novels would be helped greatly if she skimmed this. She'd probably realize that pancakes weren't really a breakfast option at that time. No IHOPS in England.

There's a large glossary included and that's worth skimming as well. Very interesting.

Older Review
Very interesting. A lot of information about the Victorian age in England.
Profile Image for Peter.
476 reviews43 followers
April 6, 2014
If you want very detailed information on a specific aspect of Victorian life then this book is not for you. If, however, you want an interesting, often quirky look at a host of Victorian conventions, eccentricities and a wonderfully succinct Glossary of Terms then this is a wonderful book for your shelf.

I have enjoyed reading Victorian novels for decades, but this book could still fill in some gaps of information and re-paint some faded corners of my memory. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this book is the fact that Daniel Pool offers so many examples from the Victorian Era to illustrate his points. Those moments I truly enjoyed, the "ah moments" of understanding or renewed clarity.

One of the best aspects of being in a reading group with Goodreads is the fact that you not only have the opportunity to discuss books with people from around the world, but you also get to share other books that will enhance your reading pleasure. This is one such book.

Profile Image for Mariah.
185 reviews10 followers
January 19, 2009
"The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there".- quote from novel, the Go-Betweens. The past is "foreign" enough to modern Brits, but even more so to those of us across the pond.

For anyone who has read Victorian-era British novels or watched film adaptations and been confused by some of the customs and cultural references made by the characters- this book is a godsend. The authors of these novels wrote assuming their audience would know things like social hierachy, ettiquette, transportation and other aspects of everyday life. Daniel Pool covers it quite comprehensively.

I also think this book would be useful for teachers and students of high school or college English.

I picked this up at the George Bernard Shaw festival in Kitchener, Ontario
Profile Image for Wealhtheow.
2,432 reviews543 followers
March 30, 2010
Over 400 pages of definitions, facts, and glosses for the most alien aspects of 1800s England. And there are a lot of them! The nineteenth century saw the birth of much of what we think of as unremarkable necessities of civilization: a police force, basic schooling for all children, a national mail system...This is truly a fascinating read, and one I highly recommend for anyone reading regency or Victorian-era literature.
Profile Image for Emma Rose.
1,057 reviews73 followers
February 19, 2017
What a wonderful read! Even though this was the third book on Victorian England that I read this month, this one did have a lot of information the other two didn't, especially to do with specific 19th century vocabulary. It's very obviously intended for an American audience but I learnt a lot. One of the best books on the topic, to be sure, and the writing flows really easily since there's just the right amount of quotes and commentary.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 599 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.