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Jane Austen’s Wardrobe with Professor Hilary Davidson

Acclaimed dress historian and Austen expert Hilary Davidson reveals the wardrobe of one of the world’s most celebrated novelists

Acclaimed dress historian and Jane Austen expert Hilary Davidson reveals, the wardrobe of one of the world’s most celebrated authors. Despite Jane’s acknowledged brilliance on the page, she has all too often been accused of dowdiness in her appearance.

Drawing on Jane Austen’s 161 known letters – as well as her own surviving garments and accessories – Jane Austen’s Wardrobe assembles examples of the variety of clothes she would have possessed―from gowns and coats, to shoes and undergarments―to tell a very different story about the renowned author.

The Jane Austen that Hilary Davidson reveals is alert to fashion trends but thrifty and eager to reuse and repurpose clothing. Her renowned irony and wit peppers her letters, describing clothes, shopping, and taste. Jane Austen’s Wardrobe offers the rare pleasure of a glimpse inside the closet of a stylish dresser and perpetually fascinating writer.

**If you are unable to make the live talk, Hilary has kindly agreed that we can record her talk and send you a link afterwards. Sign up via Eventbrite to be on the list for the recording.**

Speaker: Hilary Davidson is a dress and textile historian, curator and archaeologist. She has worked, lectured, broadcast and taught internationally across a huge range of expertise, and is currently Chair of the MA Fashion and Textile Studies: History, Theory Museum Practice at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York.

Praise for Jane Austen’s Wardrobe:

“The definitive compendium of Jane Austen’s clothes, recreated from fragments, by an acknowledged mistress of the field. Open the book, the author invites, as you might a chest of drawers, to find anything but a dowdy spinster.” Amanda Vickery, author of Behind Closed Doors

“This gorgeously illustrated volume from the world’s leading expert on the fashion of the Regency era lifts the skirts on Jane Austen’s wardrobe.” Paula Byrne, author of The Real Jane Austen


Our Online Membership is for those who attend our virtual events – and would like to receive a digital copy of our annual Miscellany journal, join in our members’ monthly online ‘Crafty Chats’ and more … for the affordable rate of only £15.00 per annum.

If you would like to sign up for Online Membership, please click on the link.

Online members will receive discounted member ticket rates for our virtual events (i.e. not in person events, which usually held in Norwich, Norfolk, UK)

We look forward to welcoming you as a C&TA Online member.


Full C&TA Membership is for those who also enjoy attending in-person – and online – events, the benefits of visiting Norwich’s remarkable Norfolk Museums Service’s costume and textile collections, plus other locally-available discounts. For Full Membership, please click on the blue link. Full individual membership is £25.00 per annum (see the C&TA website for other membership types): www.ctacostume.org.uk

Any queries about membership, email: membershipcta4@gmail.com

Any queries about online events, email: ctacostume.events@gmail.com

In 2024, the C&TA celebrates our Coral Anniversary: 35 years as an independent charity supporting the Norfolk Museums Service’s costume and textiles collections

Online Programme for Spring / Summer 2024

The Costume & Textile Association (C&TA) host regular online events via zoom, in addition to in person events in Norwich, Norfolk, UK

Tuesday 23 January Tartan with Jonathan Faiers, professor of Fashion Thinking at Winchester School of Art, author and co-curator of Tartan exhibition at V&A Dundee

Wednesday 21 February Dressing Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes with Jane Pritchard, curator of Dance, Theatre and Performance at the V&A. 2024 celebrates the 150th birthday of Nicolas Roerich, the 100th anniversary of Leon Bakst and the 111th anniversary of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring ballet

Tuesday 12 March Jane Austen’s Wardrobe with Dr Hilary Davidson, dress, textile and fashion historian, curator and author


Free Exhibition in The Gallery, The Forum, Norwich Daily 10 am – 4 pm. 13 – 21 April 2024

ONLINE EVENT Saturday 13 April 2 pm Agony & Ecstasy: History of Corsets with Joy Evitt, C&TA (Free, donations welcome)

ONLINE EVENT Sunday 14 April 2pm Spinning a Yarn: Women Spinners in Norfolk’s Medieval Worsted Industry with Jenn Monahan, Geoffrey Squire Memorial Bursary Award 2019 (pre-recorded talk followed by Live Q&A with Jenn)(Pay what you can)

**IN PERSON EVENT @ THE FORUM, NORWICH 12 noon Monday 15 April 35 Years of C&TA Support with Ruth Battersby, senior curator, Norfolk Museums Service (NMS) (Pay what you can)

ONLINE EVENT Tuesday 16 April 7 pm Double Weave: Modernist Designers Bourne & Allen with Dr Jane Hattrick, co-curator of exhibition at Ditchling Museum


Tuesday 23 April 7 pm Print Pattern & Narrative with Kate Farley, associate professor in design at Norwich University of the Arts

Tuesday 21 May 7 pm The Dress Diary of Mrs Anne Sykes: Secrets from a Victorian Woman’s Wardrobe with Dr Kate Strasdin, author and senior lecturer in Cultural Studies at the Fashion and Textiles Institute, Falmouth University

Wednesday 5 June 7 pm Courtly Coral: Red Coral and Coral Motifs at the Chinese Imperial Court with Dr Pippa Lacey, C&TA

Tuesday 23 July 7 pm The Pastons: Clothes Maketh the Man (and Woman) with best selling author Anne O’Brien

August Summer Break

Tuesday 24 September 7 pm Fashion on the Silk Roads with Professor Susan Whitfield, Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures (SISJAC)

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March 12 2024


Date: 12 March
Time: 19:00 - 20:30
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