So what did education look like at the time of Jane Austen? Girls like Elizabeth Bennett or Emma Woodhouse were educated at home by governesses, while men went off to school. This is why, according to dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Trinity College Dublin Darryl Jones, the sphere of influence and the geographical sphere in which women operated at this time was very often quite small.

When Jane Austen writes about three or four families in the country village, that’s because the world in which she herself would have moved was a very small domestic sphere, while her brothers were off in the church or navy.