The Governess: Qualified to Teach the Usual Branches of a Good English Education

jane eyre bbc versionA governess’s job was to teach the children of middle and upper class households in 19th Century England. By 1850, there were 21,000 governesses registered in England. In Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, our heroine places the following advertisement, which eventually lands her the position at Thornhill Hall: A young lady accustomed to tuition is desirous of meeting with a situation in a private home where the children are under fourteen. She is qualified to teach the usual branches of a good English education, together with French, Drawing, and Music.” The governess would remain in the household until the children departed for school or, in the case of young ladies, made her Come Out.

Being a governess was one of the few occupations considered suitable for middle-class girls to earn her a living. A governess was expected to have the education and manners of a genteel lady, but in the household, she held a tenuous situation. She was considered a servant by the master and mistress, but NOT one of their own to those below stairs. In Jane Austen’s Emma, Jane Fairfax bemoans her having to become a governess. She says, “…offices, where inquiry would soon procure something–offices for the sale not quite of human flesh, but of human intellect.”

jane-eyreBeing neither family nor servant, the governess spent a lonely lifestyle. Unfortunately, a large number of governesses had no family of their own to visit when given a rare holiday or from whom to receive a letter to ease the hours of isolation. Of course, in romance novels, the governess often attracts the attentions of the younger sons, or in Jane Eyre’s case, the master’s eye. For every “Jane Eyre,” there were likely many governesses who succumbed to the attentions of the households’ most seductive gentlemen. Affairs were more commonplace than we would like to think.

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In my A Touch of Grace, the main character, Grace Nelson, is a governess in Viscount Averett’s home. When she meets the Marquis of Godown, Gabriel Crowden, her life changes, but not in a “Jane Eyre” sort of plot.

A Touch of Grace placed third in historical romance in 2012’s SOLA Seventh Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards.

“The first fully original series from Austen pastiche author Jeffers is a knockout.”
– Publishers Weekly

“Jeffers’s close look at the dark secrets of Regency society instills a sense of realism.”
– Publishers Weekly

After years away from England, members of the Realm return home to claim the titles and the lives they had previously abandoned. Each man holds onto the fleeting dream of finally know love and home. For now, all any of them can hope is the resolution of his earlier difficulties before Shaheed Mir, their old enemy, finds them and exacts his revenge. Mir seeks a mysterious emerald, and he believes one of the Realm has it.

GABRIEL CROWDEN, the Marquis of Godown, can easily recall the night that he made a vow to know love before he met his Maker. Of course, that was before Lady Gardenia Templeton’s duplicity had driven Godown from his home and before his father’s will had changed everything. Godown requires a wife to meet the unusual demands of the former marquis’s stipulations. Preferably one either already carrying his child or one who would tolerate his constant attentions to secure the Crowden line before the deadline.

GRACE NELSON dreams of family died with her brother’s ascension to the title. Yet, when she meets the injured Marquis of Godown at a Scottish inn, her dreams have a new name. However, hope never has an easy path. Grace is but a lowly governess with ordinary features. She believes she can never earn the regard of the “Adonis” known as Gabriel Crowden. Besides, the man has a well-earned skepticism when it comes to the women in his life. How can she prove that she is the one woman who will never betray him? The Regency era has never been hotter.

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About reginajeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and contemporary novels.
This entry was posted in British history, Jane Austen, real life tales, Regency era and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The Governess: Qualified to Teach the Usual Branches of a Good English Education

  1. Sophia Rose says:

    I always felt great sympathy for the governesses. I suspect its because this would have been my lot had I lived in those times.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. JuneA** says:

    Congratulations on your well-deserved honor, Regina! I meant to get back to this series before now…I get side-tracked too easily!

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