Jennifer Ewing is Published in Persuasions On-Line

As the Wheel Turns: Horse-Drawn Vehicles in Jane Austen’s Novels


Jennifer S. Ewing

Jennifer S. Ewing (email:, Library Director at Southern California Seminary, El Cajon, CA, grew up around horses and carriages, spending her summers working in her father’s blacksmith-wheelwright shop.  Pursuing a third master’s degree in Language and Literature (Tolkien Studies) at Signum University, she has been a member of JASNA since 2016.


Carriages, we are told, bring young, eligible men into the neighborhood.  Just a few sentences after the iconic opening of Pride and Prejudice—“It is a truth universally acknowledged . . .”— Mrs. Bennet announces that just such a wealthy young man has entered their neighborhood, her evidence being his arrival “‘in a chaise and four’” (1).  This pronouncement provides us with an important clue to all of Jane Austen’s novels:  Horse-drawn vehicles play a necessary role in the development and understanding of her characters and the plots of her novels.  In a world of democratized ownership of automobiles, modern readers have little to no frame of reference for the economics, customs and social conventions, and operation of horse-drawn vehicles in her novels.1  Austen uses carriages to establish the measure of a person’s wealth and social distinction, to embody the perfect wedding accessory, to offer an analgesic for boredom, to express feelings, to provide a means of control or freedom, and to suggest the quality of a person’s nature.

Jennifer will reprise her presentation from Colonial Williamsburg (October 2019), in February 2020, for the Jane Austen Society of North America, San Diego region, at the Mission Valley Library, 2123 Fenton Pkwy, San Diego California 92108. RSVP Here.



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