The Life and Times of Lizzy Bennet

Curated by Juli McLoone and Sigrid Anderson Cordell


As the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, 2017 presents an opportunity to explore the historical milieu in which her characters lived. The 1790s-1810s was a tumultuous time period in Britain, encompassing the French revolution and subsequent Napoleonic Wars, the fight to abolish the slave trade, and vigorous debates on women’s role in society. Political and social unrest simmered throughout the period as working Britons agitated for suffrage, parliamentary reform, better working conditions, and affordable food prices.

Such events may seem distant from the country villages, marriage plots, and polite drawing rooms often associated with Austen’s novels. However, the material culture of the English gentry and the legal and economic constraints under which Austen’s female characters negotiate their marriage prospects are deeply embedded within broader societal developments. This exhibit offers an opportunity to explore those ties and allow visitors a deeper understanding of both Austen’s novels and the Georgian world.

This online exhibit accompanies the physical exhibit The Life and Times of Lizzy Bennet, which was displayed in the Audubon Room from November 20, 2017 - March 30, 2018. Items in this exhibit are from the Special Collections Library unless marked otherwise in the caption. 

A companion online-only exhibit, Jane Austen 1817-2017: A Bicentennial Exhibit was curated by the students in English 313, taught by Professor Adela Pinch, Department of English ( in Winter 2017. All items featured in this exhibit are from the Special Collections Research Center.