The Accomplished Lady

I took a trip last night, into England’s early 1800s.  I imagined myself as a daughter being trained to be an accomplished lady and thought about which parts of my training would interest me most. 

As far as I know, single, young women were expected to be proficient in singing, music, drawing, painting, modern languages like French, some needlework, and dancing, as well as be skillful in polite conversation and the expected social graces.  Of these, I can hardly imagine anything I would rather do than learn the dances of the day, become fluent in French, and do a little drawing.  Embroidery might be sort of fun, too, but I’m not sure I would be any good at it.  I’d probably have to use my fabric to soak up the blood from my fingers.

Although I enjoy singing, I would not enjoy being taught the finer points of it.  Besides, I’m sure I would cause a ruckus since my favorite tunes are Irish ballads, songs hardly fit for an English gathering.  I have also tried my hands at music several times, but failed to learn the language.  This might be compared to learning Arabic or Mandarin, languages that use characters other than those I am familiar with.  Also, I do not have the gift of representing life through color on a canvas, which is why I choose drawing over painting.

I don’t know that conversation or social graces would be so hard to learn, especially if they were a part of everyday life, but it could become very dull puppetry at times.

Ladies: What about you?  Which areas of education would you enjoy most if you were being trained to be an accomplished woman?

Gentlemen: If you were a Regency man looking for a bride, which of these skills would it be most important for her to have?  Why?  (I know these skills seem pretty superficial, but they were useful in their way, if only socially.)

8 thoughts on “The Accomplished Lady

  1. Always love stopping in and reading your posts, girly! I think it would be so fun to learn the dances they used to do at balls…ahh sigh. How lovely. And I think I would love the painting and musical instruments part of it. And reading. It strikes me in most of the Period/Austen times the women always had lots of time for reading. Fun, fun.

    ” I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!” :) P&P


    • Thanks so much! I’m glad you stopped by!

      Ah! I completely forgot about the reading! It definitely would have been a fun time to be a wealthy Regency or Victorian lady. Actually, I’ve started trying to learn whist so I can teach my family this weekend, but I’m still lost in the details and strategy of it. I’ll get it one day, though! I think I need a group of Austen fans to play it with; that would be a good time!

      Thanks again for dropping by! :D

  2. I think the dancing would be fun to learn, and maybe a language or two. It was such a different time though, don’t think I’m brave enough to stand up and sing to a room full of people.

    • I think it would be tough to sing in front of people in any time period if you’re not used to the attention. It would be really hard for me, too. Maybe if you performed a duet with someone it wouldn’t be quite so bad. It is fun to imagine living in another time period, though!

      Thanks so much for stopping by! :)

  3. Oh dear, not dancing! :D I’ve never learned any dances, and I don’t think I’m good at it – good at synchronising my moves. I can do something like waltz when the man is leading me (proven, with a lot of panic on my part, at one ball I attended), but the dances of that time did not allow for that!
    Singing (but probably not solo singing, ouch), some drawing and painting, needlework. Modern languages, but not French. At least not in this day, not with this yours truly.
    Interesting to look at myself this way… I think if I travelled back in time, as I am now, and found myself in such a situation in life as to be expected to do those things, I would get a bit bored. I’d probably end up secluded with my sewing, as I often do now, but I’d miss all the other things… like learning other languages than French. :-)

  4. I know what you mean; I’ve naturally got two left feet, but I’m trying to correc them with a monthly English country dance I attend with my sister. I’m so glad you learned you can waltz, though! I’ve never attempted that dance, but I would love to try!

    I wonder if I took over for you in French, would you take my sewing chores? I’m not sure I could get off the hook even with such a sparkling plan as that, but it would be worth a try!

    Thanks for imagining with me! I loved reading your responses! :)

  5. I like your plan. It’s what we do with my sister, in other things. I cut the onion for her, and she peels the potatoes for me. Sparkling scheme! It only leaves us with one problem: what will we do when we marry?
    (Joking a bit. I can peel potatoes, and she can cut onion. We just enjoy this task-making.)

Swing on by and chat awhile! I would serve up some lemonade and snickerdoodles, but the virtual kind don't taste very nice. Sorry about that.

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