The Art of Dress in Literature, and Life

Faerie Queene, Elizabeth I, Spenser, Olivier, Greer Garson, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Frith, Rossetti, Millais

20 September - 4 October 2018
Thursdays 10.45am - 12.45pm
The University Women’s Club, 2 Audley Square, London W1K 1DB
Jacqui Ansell
Full course (3 lectures) £150.00
Single lecture £59.00
(includes morning coffee, tea and biscuits)

Book your place now on The Art of Dress in Literature, and Life

“Thank you for another wonderful series.”

From shimmering silks and sumptuous satins, glittering gold brocade to sheer muslin gowns, artists through the ages have revelled in depicting details of dress.  Whether clinging to every contour or concealing the shape of the wearer, clothing can create dynamism and drama - stories that contemporaries could read. Through the words of key dramatists and writers, and portraits in paint and print, this course will investigate how character can be created through clothing.

Fagin, Kyd, 18899
Jane Austen, 1873 Queen Elizabeth I, c.1575

Course outline

“Pins and Poking Sticks”: Dress in Shakespeare’s Time

“God has given you one face and you make yourself another” says Hamlet – condemning the use of make-up, and the fine line between “art” and “artifice”.  With a focus on the heavily “painted” face of Elizabeth 1 (whom Spenser termed the “Faerie Queene”) we will consider the words of moralists, playwrights, painters and poets as they created impossible images of ageless beauty.

Men in Black, Women in White?  Jane Austen’s World

In the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy certainly made a “splash” in his crisp linen shirt (who could forget the scene as he emerged from the lake)?  In an earlier era, Lawrence Olivier cut a dash with Greer Garson on the silver screen.  To what extent did these adaptations really reflect the clothing and culture of Jane Austen’s world, or merely the worlds in which they were made?

Corsets & Crinolines:  The Age of Dickens

In the Victorian age the line between “gentleman” and “gent” was finely drawn (Charles Dickens was the latter – as could be discerned from his rather flash waistcoats).  The language of clothing was vital to Dickens and his readers to denote his varied characters who could “splash the cash” or be “ever so humble”.  His contemporary Thomas Hardy, and painters Frith, Rossetti, Millais (and many more) will help us to shed light on the colourful, crinoline era.