Six More Reasons Why the Regency Rules

Now that we’re settling into our weekly WordWench routine, Monday will be my regular day for posting. I hope you’re all enjoying this first official weekend of summer, and won’t be near a computer to read this until tomorrow. And if you or any of your family members have served in the armed forces, I’m sending along a special “thank you” on Memorial Day for all you’ve done and the sacrifices you’ve made.

Jo’s entry about how Regency settings have nearly taken over the historical market was so exactly on target that I can’t help but add a few more reasons of my own. I’ve written my share of Regency-set historicals; I can relate.

1. The Regency era is a familiar place to visit. Thanks both to the long-established tradition of Regency-set books and to Hollywood, readers come to newer books with a pretty good idea of what this time period looks and feels like. They have an instant connection with Almack’s or an English country house that they wouldn’t necessarily have with a Renaissance palazzo or an ancient Roman villa. From the first page, readers know where they are, and can jump right into the story with the hero and heroine.

2. Not only are the women’s gowns appealing to modern sensibilities, but the men’s clothes are, too. Cropped hair, close-fitting trousers, tailored coats with padded shoulders, and riding boots all fit into current ideas of what’s dashingly “masculine.” While I agree with Jo that Georgian clothing is infinitely more seductive and elegant, most modern women just can’t bend their minds around a guy in high heeled shoes and a wig (though Johnny Depp in The Libertine could change a lot of minds.)

3. “Regency” is such a great concept that it knows no national boundries. In France, those high-waisted muslin gowns and classically-inspired chairs are called Empire; in America, they’re Federal. Truly Regency is a state of mind.

4. There’s a persistent rumor that Regencyland will soon be added to the Magic Kingdoms at Disneyland. No, not really, but from the version of early 19th century England that pops up in many (but certainly not all) historical romances, it does seem to be a charmed world. Everyone’s rich, witty, titled, handsome or beautiful, and lives in gorgeous houses with plenty of amusing servants who just can’t wait to be your confidant or go-between. There’s little mention of that unpleasant war with the French (unless, of course, you’re a spy), or of the unstable economy, or syphilis, or children working in the textile mills, or unemployment, or the fact that the king is mad and his regent-son is more than a little irresponsible. If you’re looking for a great place to escape from the twenty-first century for a few hours, Regencyland can’t be beat.

5. Despite feminist efforts to broaden literature curriculums, Jane Austen continues to be one of the very few woman writers to break into required reading lists. For many high school girls, Pride and Prejudice and Emma are a surprising, enjoyable breath of fresh country air. In other words, you never forget your first Mr. Darcy.

6. Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Emma Thompson, Hugh Grant, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Colin Firth, and Jennifer Ehle.

Best,
Susan/Miranda

63 thoughts on “Six More Reasons Why the Regency Rules”

  1. Susan, thanks for some brilliant insights and excellent points! You’ve succinctly identifed what makes Regency so very appealing and why it’s still a classic setting in the romance genre. Regency has attained a comfortable familiarity for readers through books and media, and as such it doesn’t require as much mental energy from the reader as some other (equally wonderful and fascinating!) time periods. This is even more important lately, I think, when so many of us love reading, and love historicals, yet are way too busy and have less time to devote to reading.
    Regency success in fiction is not only thanks to the groundwork laid by so many authors from Jane Austen onward, and to the readers who love their books — it’s also thanks to Hollywood, as Susan Miranda points out, for providing such yummy visuals and exquisite versions of Regency novels in the past several years. The movie bonus may be one reason Regency fiction sustains and maintains, even when the market for historical romance in general has been treading water. It’s regaining strength, and I think we can thank Regency for helping to stabilize the genre through some rough waters.

    Reply
  2. Susan, thanks for some brilliant insights and excellent points! You’ve succinctly identifed what makes Regency so very appealing and why it’s still a classic setting in the romance genre. Regency has attained a comfortable familiarity for readers through books and media, and as such it doesn’t require as much mental energy from the reader as some other (equally wonderful and fascinating!) time periods. This is even more important lately, I think, when so many of us love reading, and love historicals, yet are way too busy and have less time to devote to reading.
    Regency success in fiction is not only thanks to the groundwork laid by so many authors from Jane Austen onward, and to the readers who love their books — it’s also thanks to Hollywood, as Susan Miranda points out, for providing such yummy visuals and exquisite versions of Regency novels in the past several years. The movie bonus may be one reason Regency fiction sustains and maintains, even when the market for historical romance in general has been treading water. It’s regaining strength, and I think we can thank Regency for helping to stabilize the genre through some rough waters.

    Reply
  3. Susan, thanks for some brilliant insights and excellent points! You’ve succinctly identifed what makes Regency so very appealing and why it’s still a classic setting in the romance genre. Regency has attained a comfortable familiarity for readers through books and media, and as such it doesn’t require as much mental energy from the reader as some other (equally wonderful and fascinating!) time periods. This is even more important lately, I think, when so many of us love reading, and love historicals, yet are way too busy and have less time to devote to reading.
    Regency success in fiction is not only thanks to the groundwork laid by so many authors from Jane Austen onward, and to the readers who love their books — it’s also thanks to Hollywood, as Susan Miranda points out, for providing such yummy visuals and exquisite versions of Regency novels in the past several years. The movie bonus may be one reason Regency fiction sustains and maintains, even when the market for historical romance in general has been treading water. It’s regaining strength, and I think we can thank Regency for helping to stabilize the genre through some rough waters.

    Reply
  4. Exccellent point, Susan/Miranda.
    Re Regencyworld, when I did a keynote for the Beau Monde conference in Orlando, I coined the phrase Prinnyworld. I still like that one. 🙂
    I do hope Depp brings back a new appreciation for men of fashion who are birds of brilliant plumage and deadly if crossed.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  5. Exccellent point, Susan/Miranda.
    Re Regencyworld, when I did a keynote for the Beau Monde conference in Orlando, I coined the phrase Prinnyworld. I still like that one. 🙂
    I do hope Depp brings back a new appreciation for men of fashion who are birds of brilliant plumage and deadly if crossed.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  6. Exccellent point, Susan/Miranda.
    Re Regencyworld, when I did a keynote for the Beau Monde conference in Orlando, I coined the phrase Prinnyworld. I still like that one. 🙂
    I do hope Depp brings back a new appreciation for men of fashion who are birds of brilliant plumage and deadly if crossed.
    Jo 🙂

    Reply
  7. Jo–
    I love the idea of Prinnyworld — I can imagine the ticket-gate, just like the Brighton Pavilion. As if Orlando weren’t bizarro enough….
    If any current actor can bring back men as “birds of brilliant plumage and deadly if crossed” (wonderful description!) it would be Depp. Who else would have so completely stolen the Pirates movies with all his rings, sashes, scarves, and kohl-rimmed eyes?
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  8. Jo–
    I love the idea of Prinnyworld — I can imagine the ticket-gate, just like the Brighton Pavilion. As if Orlando weren’t bizarro enough….
    If any current actor can bring back men as “birds of brilliant plumage and deadly if crossed” (wonderful description!) it would be Depp. Who else would have so completely stolen the Pirates movies with all his rings, sashes, scarves, and kohl-rimmed eyes?
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  9. Jo–
    I love the idea of Prinnyworld — I can imagine the ticket-gate, just like the Brighton Pavilion. As if Orlando weren’t bizarro enough….
    If any current actor can bring back men as “birds of brilliant plumage and deadly if crossed” (wonderful description!) it would be Depp. Who else would have so completely stolen the Pirates movies with all his rings, sashes, scarves, and kohl-rimmed eyes?
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  10. Umm. May I just write two words?
    GEORGETTE HEYER.
    Heyer’s oeuvre is almost certainly the principal reason for the enduring popularity of the English Regency setting and its close association with the ‘comedy of manners’ style.
    I fully accept many of the other reasons for the appeal of the period that have already been mentioned, including the clothing, and of course, the Jane Austen connection upon which Heyer herself based her approach. The Regency, because it came at the latter end of the Age of Enlightenment, has many elements in common with our own time – more, in fact, than the succeeding Victorian period, at least in British settings.
    Heyer established a major genre, and she wrote for some 50 years: I am sure that many writers less dedicated and intelligent than the ladies on this board have written Regencies based, not on their own original research, but on hers.
    🙂

    Reply
  11. Umm. May I just write two words?
    GEORGETTE HEYER.
    Heyer’s oeuvre is almost certainly the principal reason for the enduring popularity of the English Regency setting and its close association with the ‘comedy of manners’ style.
    I fully accept many of the other reasons for the appeal of the period that have already been mentioned, including the clothing, and of course, the Jane Austen connection upon which Heyer herself based her approach. The Regency, because it came at the latter end of the Age of Enlightenment, has many elements in common with our own time – more, in fact, than the succeeding Victorian period, at least in British settings.
    Heyer established a major genre, and she wrote for some 50 years: I am sure that many writers less dedicated and intelligent than the ladies on this board have written Regencies based, not on their own original research, but on hers.
    🙂

    Reply
  12. Umm. May I just write two words?
    GEORGETTE HEYER.
    Heyer’s oeuvre is almost certainly the principal reason for the enduring popularity of the English Regency setting and its close association with the ‘comedy of manners’ style.
    I fully accept many of the other reasons for the appeal of the period that have already been mentioned, including the clothing, and of course, the Jane Austen connection upon which Heyer herself based her approach. The Regency, because it came at the latter end of the Age of Enlightenment, has many elements in common with our own time – more, in fact, than the succeeding Victorian period, at least in British settings.
    Heyer established a major genre, and she wrote for some 50 years: I am sure that many writers less dedicated and intelligent than the ladies on this board have written Regencies based, not on their own original research, but on hers.
    🙂

    Reply
  13. Susan/Miranda–wonderful explanation. When I’ve been asked the question, I talk about the interesting historical period between the world of Tom Jones and the world of Oliver Twist, and the various tensions between those two world. Or, more lately, I talk about the sexy guys, the attire designed to display their assets rather than itself. But a great many readers may not be aware of the politics or the ethos of the time or the change from agrarian to industrial world, etc.–because not everyone studies this stuff. But exposure through popular culture and through reading Austen in school does create a comfort zone. As to Georgette Heyer, while a great many readers know her work, we need to remember that a great many others either don’t know her work or find her hard going. Speaking for myself, I had heard of her, but had never read one of her books until I’d written a couple of my own. This was for the best. Had I read her first, I would have been too intimidated to attempt it.
    In short, I think Susan/Mir nailed it cogently and beautifully–so much so that I will probably steal this explanation for the next time I’m asked.
    Loretta

    Reply
  14. Susan/Miranda–wonderful explanation. When I’ve been asked the question, I talk about the interesting historical period between the world of Tom Jones and the world of Oliver Twist, and the various tensions between those two world. Or, more lately, I talk about the sexy guys, the attire designed to display their assets rather than itself. But a great many readers may not be aware of the politics or the ethos of the time or the change from agrarian to industrial world, etc.–because not everyone studies this stuff. But exposure through popular culture and through reading Austen in school does create a comfort zone. As to Georgette Heyer, while a great many readers know her work, we need to remember that a great many others either don’t know her work or find her hard going. Speaking for myself, I had heard of her, but had never read one of her books until I’d written a couple of my own. This was for the best. Had I read her first, I would have been too intimidated to attempt it.
    In short, I think Susan/Mir nailed it cogently and beautifully–so much so that I will probably steal this explanation for the next time I’m asked.
    Loretta

    Reply
  15. Susan/Miranda–wonderful explanation. When I’ve been asked the question, I talk about the interesting historical period between the world of Tom Jones and the world of Oliver Twist, and the various tensions between those two world. Or, more lately, I talk about the sexy guys, the attire designed to display their assets rather than itself. But a great many readers may not be aware of the politics or the ethos of the time or the change from agrarian to industrial world, etc.–because not everyone studies this stuff. But exposure through popular culture and through reading Austen in school does create a comfort zone. As to Georgette Heyer, while a great many readers know her work, we need to remember that a great many others either don’t know her work or find her hard going. Speaking for myself, I had heard of her, but had never read one of her books until I’d written a couple of my own. This was for the best. Had I read her first, I would have been too intimidated to attempt it.
    In short, I think Susan/Mir nailed it cogently and beautifully–so much so that I will probably steal this explanation for the next time I’m asked.
    Loretta

    Reply
  16. Loretta, I think you have landed on another major point: the Regency was an era of transition between an age of authoritarian political conservatism and moral laxity, and one of rising democracy and social conscience and morality, sparked in many cases by evangelical religion. And any age of transition provides opportunity for conflict and interesting plots.
    Consider the cliched scene, first appearing in Heyer’s ARABELLA, of the hero first becoming seriously interested in the heroine because he finds her defending a mistreated climbing boy from a cruel chimney-sweep.
    Incidentally, did anyone else watch the PBS series REGENCY HOUSE PARTY a couple of seasons ago? I was interested enough to watch the whole thing (just barely); I found it interesting, especially the introductions to Regency sports and other activities, but wholly unconvincing as a re-enactment of the period. The only thing realistic was the most eligible bachelor having an affair with one of the chaperones instead of getting interested in one of the “buds.” Shades of the first Lady Jersey (Frances)!

    Reply
  17. Loretta, I think you have landed on another major point: the Regency was an era of transition between an age of authoritarian political conservatism and moral laxity, and one of rising democracy and social conscience and morality, sparked in many cases by evangelical religion. And any age of transition provides opportunity for conflict and interesting plots.
    Consider the cliched scene, first appearing in Heyer’s ARABELLA, of the hero first becoming seriously interested in the heroine because he finds her defending a mistreated climbing boy from a cruel chimney-sweep.
    Incidentally, did anyone else watch the PBS series REGENCY HOUSE PARTY a couple of seasons ago? I was interested enough to watch the whole thing (just barely); I found it interesting, especially the introductions to Regency sports and other activities, but wholly unconvincing as a re-enactment of the period. The only thing realistic was the most eligible bachelor having an affair with one of the chaperones instead of getting interested in one of the “buds.” Shades of the first Lady Jersey (Frances)!

    Reply
  18. Loretta, I think you have landed on another major point: the Regency was an era of transition between an age of authoritarian political conservatism and moral laxity, and one of rising democracy and social conscience and morality, sparked in many cases by evangelical religion. And any age of transition provides opportunity for conflict and interesting plots.
    Consider the cliched scene, first appearing in Heyer’s ARABELLA, of the hero first becoming seriously interested in the heroine because he finds her defending a mistreated climbing boy from a cruel chimney-sweep.
    Incidentally, did anyone else watch the PBS series REGENCY HOUSE PARTY a couple of seasons ago? I was interested enough to watch the whole thing (just barely); I found it interesting, especially the introductions to Regency sports and other activities, but wholly unconvincing as a re-enactment of the period. The only thing realistic was the most eligible bachelor having an affair with one of the chaperones instead of getting interested in one of the “buds.” Shades of the first Lady Jersey (Frances)!

    Reply
  19. Ahh, we have a good discussion going here now!
    One of the things I didn’t (read: forgot) mention was how all writers are reflections of their time periods. No matter how perfectly we believe that we’ve captured the essence of a past era, the present’s always glimmering there over our heads. (The only exception in this discussion would, of course, be Jane Austen. She wasn’t writing historicals, but novels of contemporary society, which makes her more a sister to Jenny Crusie than to us.)
    I’m no Georgette Heyer scholar — is there one in the house? — but I wonder why an early 20th century writer was driven to set stories over a hundred years earlier.
    Some of the most popular English historical novelists of the last century were consciously/unconsciously harkening back to the past glories of the British Empire. Certainly C.S. Forester’s “Horatio Hornblower” series falls into this category. While England was battling Hitler, British readers took great comfort in a hero who seemed able to single-handedly defeat Napoleon, the last great tyrant from the Continent.
    Could Georgette, writing her first books during the unprecedented social freedoms of the post-World War I Roaring Twenties, be longingly looking backward to a time when there were more definite rules to courtship and society as a whole? The Napoleonic Wars were in many ways the first real “world war”, and her characters don’t shy away from mentioning it. Did she see the parallels between her time and Jane Austen’s?
    For that matter, what sociological bugbears are driving the Regency trend today? Does pristine white muslin strike a special chord when every day is Casual Friday? Do the trials of balancing careers and families make modern women long (briefly, I hope!) for a time when marriage to the right man was your most important goal in life?
    I don’t have any answers, just tossing more spice into the pot. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  20. Ahh, we have a good discussion going here now!
    One of the things I didn’t (read: forgot) mention was how all writers are reflections of their time periods. No matter how perfectly we believe that we’ve captured the essence of a past era, the present’s always glimmering there over our heads. (The only exception in this discussion would, of course, be Jane Austen. She wasn’t writing historicals, but novels of contemporary society, which makes her more a sister to Jenny Crusie than to us.)
    I’m no Georgette Heyer scholar — is there one in the house? — but I wonder why an early 20th century writer was driven to set stories over a hundred years earlier.
    Some of the most popular English historical novelists of the last century were consciously/unconsciously harkening back to the past glories of the British Empire. Certainly C.S. Forester’s “Horatio Hornblower” series falls into this category. While England was battling Hitler, British readers took great comfort in a hero who seemed able to single-handedly defeat Napoleon, the last great tyrant from the Continent.
    Could Georgette, writing her first books during the unprecedented social freedoms of the post-World War I Roaring Twenties, be longingly looking backward to a time when there were more definite rules to courtship and society as a whole? The Napoleonic Wars were in many ways the first real “world war”, and her characters don’t shy away from mentioning it. Did she see the parallels between her time and Jane Austen’s?
    For that matter, what sociological bugbears are driving the Regency trend today? Does pristine white muslin strike a special chord when every day is Casual Friday? Do the trials of balancing careers and families make modern women long (briefly, I hope!) for a time when marriage to the right man was your most important goal in life?
    I don’t have any answers, just tossing more spice into the pot. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  21. Ahh, we have a good discussion going here now!
    One of the things I didn’t (read: forgot) mention was how all writers are reflections of their time periods. No matter how perfectly we believe that we’ve captured the essence of a past era, the present’s always glimmering there over our heads. (The only exception in this discussion would, of course, be Jane Austen. She wasn’t writing historicals, but novels of contemporary society, which makes her more a sister to Jenny Crusie than to us.)
    I’m no Georgette Heyer scholar — is there one in the house? — but I wonder why an early 20th century writer was driven to set stories over a hundred years earlier.
    Some of the most popular English historical novelists of the last century were consciously/unconsciously harkening back to the past glories of the British Empire. Certainly C.S. Forester’s “Horatio Hornblower” series falls into this category. While England was battling Hitler, British readers took great comfort in a hero who seemed able to single-handedly defeat Napoleon, the last great tyrant from the Continent.
    Could Georgette, writing her first books during the unprecedented social freedoms of the post-World War I Roaring Twenties, be longingly looking backward to a time when there were more definite rules to courtship and society as a whole? The Napoleonic Wars were in many ways the first real “world war”, and her characters don’t shy away from mentioning it. Did she see the parallels between her time and Jane Austen’s?
    For that matter, what sociological bugbears are driving the Regency trend today? Does pristine white muslin strike a special chord when every day is Casual Friday? Do the trials of balancing careers and families make modern women long (briefly, I hope!) for a time when marriage to the right man was your most important goal in life?
    I don’t have any answers, just tossing more spice into the pot. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  22. Talpianna–
    I did see the Regency House Party show on PBS. I agree that the pace was excrutiatingly slow, but there were things I liked about it, too.
    I liked that people weren’t Hollywood-perfect, the way they would have been in an American production. I respected the care that was given to the dress and the settings — the house itself was gorgeous — and how the production made a real effort to keep to natural lighting and sound. And I loved the last scene, where the gates are opened, and the whole illusion crumbles away before the modern world.
    But I thought the husband-hunting premise was foolish, and the “actors and actresses” always seemed to be holding the situtation at arm’s length. That could have been improved, but OTOH, it was a much better way to pass a summer evening than watching baseball.:)
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  23. Talpianna–
    I did see the Regency House Party show on PBS. I agree that the pace was excrutiatingly slow, but there were things I liked about it, too.
    I liked that people weren’t Hollywood-perfect, the way they would have been in an American production. I respected the care that was given to the dress and the settings — the house itself was gorgeous — and how the production made a real effort to keep to natural lighting and sound. And I loved the last scene, where the gates are opened, and the whole illusion crumbles away before the modern world.
    But I thought the husband-hunting premise was foolish, and the “actors and actresses” always seemed to be holding the situtation at arm’s length. That could have been improved, but OTOH, it was a much better way to pass a summer evening than watching baseball.:)
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  24. Talpianna–
    I did see the Regency House Party show on PBS. I agree that the pace was excrutiatingly slow, but there were things I liked about it, too.
    I liked that people weren’t Hollywood-perfect, the way they would have been in an American production. I respected the care that was given to the dress and the settings — the house itself was gorgeous — and how the production made a real effort to keep to natural lighting and sound. And I loved the last scene, where the gates are opened, and the whole illusion crumbles away before the modern world.
    But I thought the husband-hunting premise was foolish, and the “actors and actresses” always seemed to be holding the situtation at arm’s length. That could have been improved, but OTOH, it was a much better way to pass a summer evening than watching baseball.:)
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  25. Susan/Miranda, I guess the question as to motivations will have to await someone who’s read a biography of Heyer. I know the Tigress has. Could it simply be that she was fascinated by the period? I know her earlier books were either contemporary “working-girl romances” or 18th century (THESE OLD SHADES and THE BLACK MOTH). I know THE SPANISH BRIDE is considered the best fictional treatment of Waterloo this side of Thackeray’s VANITY FAIR.
    Ironically, in her later years, her heart was in the planned trilogy about Henry V beginning with MY LORD JOHN; but she kept having to break off and write Regencies because of public demand–which is why her last few books feel so perfunctory: they were.
    I’d also like to recommend a very interesting out-of-print book, which people would probably have to get from a UBS, a university library, or interlibrary loan:
    PAMELA’S DAUGHTERS
    By ROBERT PALFREY UTTER AND GWENDOLYN BRIDGES NEEDHAM
    NEW YORK
    THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
    1936
    (I see it’s also online, for a fee, at questia.library.)
    It’s a history of the fashions in romance heroines, and how they were influenced by the social attitudes of the times. There’s an entire chapter on fainting, and another on tears! It’s entertaining as well as informative, and as far as I know it’s the only book ever completed by a co-author because the original author was killed by a falling tree on the UC Berkeley campus.
    —-tal, snapper-up of unconsidered trifles (particularly those made with strawberry jam)

    Reply
  26. Susan/Miranda, I guess the question as to motivations will have to await someone who’s read a biography of Heyer. I know the Tigress has. Could it simply be that she was fascinated by the period? I know her earlier books were either contemporary “working-girl romances” or 18th century (THESE OLD SHADES and THE BLACK MOTH). I know THE SPANISH BRIDE is considered the best fictional treatment of Waterloo this side of Thackeray’s VANITY FAIR.
    Ironically, in her later years, her heart was in the planned trilogy about Henry V beginning with MY LORD JOHN; but she kept having to break off and write Regencies because of public demand–which is why her last few books feel so perfunctory: they were.
    I’d also like to recommend a very interesting out-of-print book, which people would probably have to get from a UBS, a university library, or interlibrary loan:
    PAMELA’S DAUGHTERS
    By ROBERT PALFREY UTTER AND GWENDOLYN BRIDGES NEEDHAM
    NEW YORK
    THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
    1936
    (I see it’s also online, for a fee, at questia.library.)
    It’s a history of the fashions in romance heroines, and how they were influenced by the social attitudes of the times. There’s an entire chapter on fainting, and another on tears! It’s entertaining as well as informative, and as far as I know it’s the only book ever completed by a co-author because the original author was killed by a falling tree on the UC Berkeley campus.
    —-tal, snapper-up of unconsidered trifles (particularly those made with strawberry jam)

    Reply
  27. Susan/Miranda, I guess the question as to motivations will have to await someone who’s read a biography of Heyer. I know the Tigress has. Could it simply be that she was fascinated by the period? I know her earlier books were either contemporary “working-girl romances” or 18th century (THESE OLD SHADES and THE BLACK MOTH). I know THE SPANISH BRIDE is considered the best fictional treatment of Waterloo this side of Thackeray’s VANITY FAIR.
    Ironically, in her later years, her heart was in the planned trilogy about Henry V beginning with MY LORD JOHN; but she kept having to break off and write Regencies because of public demand–which is why her last few books feel so perfunctory: they were.
    I’d also like to recommend a very interesting out-of-print book, which people would probably have to get from a UBS, a university library, or interlibrary loan:
    PAMELA’S DAUGHTERS
    By ROBERT PALFREY UTTER AND GWENDOLYN BRIDGES NEEDHAM
    NEW YORK
    THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
    1936
    (I see it’s also online, for a fee, at questia.library.)
    It’s a history of the fashions in romance heroines, and how they were influenced by the social attitudes of the times. There’s an entire chapter on fainting, and another on tears! It’s entertaining as well as informative, and as far as I know it’s the only book ever completed by a co-author because the original author was killed by a falling tree on the UC Berkeley campus.
    —-tal, snapper-up of unconsidered trifles (particularly those made with strawberry jam)

    Reply
  28. Yes, Talpiana, Heyer started with Georgian. I believe that was a successful period at the time, full of swash and buckle.
    It is interesting to think why she switched to Regency, which I think was considered pretty dull — all politics, Corn Laws, Luddites, and war.
    My suspicion is that her research led her to some juicy sources like Egan and Gronow. Her first regency, Regency Buck, is pretty loaded with research. We all know that temptation to dump all the interesting things we’ve learned. 🙂
    And then she found she had something different that she liked.
    I don’t think we can pin that to WWI, however, because RB was published in 1935. (I had to go and look that up, which gave a chance to handle my early ’60s paperback, with the pretty lurid cover. I think I have to create a new post to show it, so I’ll do that.)
    So perhaps it was more to do with the Depression and shadows of war? Looking back to a more orderly world?
    Jo

    Reply
  29. Yes, Talpiana, Heyer started with Georgian. I believe that was a successful period at the time, full of swash and buckle.
    It is interesting to think why she switched to Regency, which I think was considered pretty dull — all politics, Corn Laws, Luddites, and war.
    My suspicion is that her research led her to some juicy sources like Egan and Gronow. Her first regency, Regency Buck, is pretty loaded with research. We all know that temptation to dump all the interesting things we’ve learned. 🙂
    And then she found she had something different that she liked.
    I don’t think we can pin that to WWI, however, because RB was published in 1935. (I had to go and look that up, which gave a chance to handle my early ’60s paperback, with the pretty lurid cover. I think I have to create a new post to show it, so I’ll do that.)
    So perhaps it was more to do with the Depression and shadows of war? Looking back to a more orderly world?
    Jo

    Reply
  30. Yes, Talpiana, Heyer started with Georgian. I believe that was a successful period at the time, full of swash and buckle.
    It is interesting to think why she switched to Regency, which I think was considered pretty dull — all politics, Corn Laws, Luddites, and war.
    My suspicion is that her research led her to some juicy sources like Egan and Gronow. Her first regency, Regency Buck, is pretty loaded with research. We all know that temptation to dump all the interesting things we’ve learned. 🙂
    And then she found she had something different that she liked.
    I don’t think we can pin that to WWI, however, because RB was published in 1935. (I had to go and look that up, which gave a chance to handle my early ’60s paperback, with the pretty lurid cover. I think I have to create a new post to show it, so I’ll do that.)
    So perhaps it was more to do with the Depression and shadows of war? Looking back to a more orderly world?
    Jo

    Reply
  31. Jo, have you ever seen the original film of HENRY V, starring Laurence Olivier? I walked a mile (round trip) in a snowstorm two nights in a row when I first saw it when I was in college.
    It was made during the war, and the patriotic elements were very much emphasized–a wonderful rendition of the “St. Crispin’s Day” speech. A great film all around.
    It’s interesting to compare it with Kenneth Branagh’s version, which emphasizes the tragic loss of life in war rather than patriotism and heroism–especially in the different ways they do the “a little touch of Harry in the night” speech.
    Anyway, I suspect that the popularity of Regencies, not necessarily Heyer’s own interest, was based on parallels with the Napoleonic Wars, when England had her back to the wall but won anyway.
    I can see her getting caught up in the subject simply because of its inherent interest–not least because we have so many private diaries and letters from the era, that let us see “behind the scenes” rather than just what the formal histories of record have to say.
    Me, I’m hipped on Richard the Third.

    Reply
  32. Jo, have you ever seen the original film of HENRY V, starring Laurence Olivier? I walked a mile (round trip) in a snowstorm two nights in a row when I first saw it when I was in college.
    It was made during the war, and the patriotic elements were very much emphasized–a wonderful rendition of the “St. Crispin’s Day” speech. A great film all around.
    It’s interesting to compare it with Kenneth Branagh’s version, which emphasizes the tragic loss of life in war rather than patriotism and heroism–especially in the different ways they do the “a little touch of Harry in the night” speech.
    Anyway, I suspect that the popularity of Regencies, not necessarily Heyer’s own interest, was based on parallels with the Napoleonic Wars, when England had her back to the wall but won anyway.
    I can see her getting caught up in the subject simply because of its inherent interest–not least because we have so many private diaries and letters from the era, that let us see “behind the scenes” rather than just what the formal histories of record have to say.
    Me, I’m hipped on Richard the Third.

    Reply
  33. Jo, have you ever seen the original film of HENRY V, starring Laurence Olivier? I walked a mile (round trip) in a snowstorm two nights in a row when I first saw it when I was in college.
    It was made during the war, and the patriotic elements were very much emphasized–a wonderful rendition of the “St. Crispin’s Day” speech. A great film all around.
    It’s interesting to compare it with Kenneth Branagh’s version, which emphasizes the tragic loss of life in war rather than patriotism and heroism–especially in the different ways they do the “a little touch of Harry in the night” speech.
    Anyway, I suspect that the popularity of Regencies, not necessarily Heyer’s own interest, was based on parallels with the Napoleonic Wars, when England had her back to the wall but won anyway.
    I can see her getting caught up in the subject simply because of its inherent interest–not least because we have so many private diaries and letters from the era, that let us see “behind the scenes” rather than just what the formal histories of record have to say.
    Me, I’m hipped on Richard the Third.

    Reply
  34. Yes, I know I’m talking too much; but I just remembered something important: Jeffery Farnol (whom I collect, but nobody else reads these days) was a very popular author writing about the Georgian and Regency eras before Heyer. He was influenced by George Borrow, and his books tend to be “road trips,” only on foot.
    Everyone interested in the Regency should read his THE AMATEUR GENTLEMAN at least once.

    Reply
  35. Yes, I know I’m talking too much; but I just remembered something important: Jeffery Farnol (whom I collect, but nobody else reads these days) was a very popular author writing about the Georgian and Regency eras before Heyer. He was influenced by George Borrow, and his books tend to be “road trips,” only on foot.
    Everyone interested in the Regency should read his THE AMATEUR GENTLEMAN at least once.

    Reply
  36. Yes, I know I’m talking too much; but I just remembered something important: Jeffery Farnol (whom I collect, but nobody else reads these days) was a very popular author writing about the Georgian and Regency eras before Heyer. He was influenced by George Borrow, and his books tend to be “road trips,” only on foot.
    Everyone interested in the Regency should read his THE AMATEUR GENTLEMAN at least once.

    Reply
  37. Interesting discussion!
    But I have to say Regencyworld or Prinnyworld (love that name!) has its drawbacks, too. Even though I’ve enjoyed many, many excursions there, I worry about the setting becoming overly sanitized. I’ve heard some readers complain that Regencies are nothing but waltzing and drinking tea. Not so! But still I think that perception is part of the demise of the traditional Regency lines at Zebra and Signet.
    I like to explore other aspects of the period. I did things with the London Foundling Hospital in my last one, for instance. Some of us at the Risky Regencies have been wondering why there couldn’t be more Peninsula-war set stories: akin to Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series but with satisfying romance. (Picturing Sean Bean as the hero is purely optional). 🙂

    Reply
  38. Interesting discussion!
    But I have to say Regencyworld or Prinnyworld (love that name!) has its drawbacks, too. Even though I’ve enjoyed many, many excursions there, I worry about the setting becoming overly sanitized. I’ve heard some readers complain that Regencies are nothing but waltzing and drinking tea. Not so! But still I think that perception is part of the demise of the traditional Regency lines at Zebra and Signet.
    I like to explore other aspects of the period. I did things with the London Foundling Hospital in my last one, for instance. Some of us at the Risky Regencies have been wondering why there couldn’t be more Peninsula-war set stories: akin to Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series but with satisfying romance. (Picturing Sean Bean as the hero is purely optional). 🙂

    Reply
  39. Interesting discussion!
    But I have to say Regencyworld or Prinnyworld (love that name!) has its drawbacks, too. Even though I’ve enjoyed many, many excursions there, I worry about the setting becoming overly sanitized. I’ve heard some readers complain that Regencies are nothing but waltzing and drinking tea. Not so! But still I think that perception is part of the demise of the traditional Regency lines at Zebra and Signet.
    I like to explore other aspects of the period. I did things with the London Foundling Hospital in my last one, for instance. Some of us at the Risky Regencies have been wondering why there couldn’t be more Peninsula-war set stories: akin to Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series but with satisfying romance. (Picturing Sean Bean as the hero is purely optional). 🙂

    Reply
  40. Yikes, I should not blog pre-caffeinated! I hope no one takes it that I have anything against waltzing or tea. But one thing I love about the Word Wenches is that you have explored some different paths.

    Reply
  41. Yikes, I should not blog pre-caffeinated! I hope no one takes it that I have anything against waltzing or tea. But one thing I love about the Word Wenches is that you have explored some different paths.

    Reply
  42. Yikes, I should not blog pre-caffeinated! I hope no one takes it that I have anything against waltzing or tea. But one thing I love about the Word Wenches is that you have explored some different paths.

    Reply
  43. LOVE this blog! And love the discussion. Me, I’m kinda torn over the Regency period. I find it interesting, both to read and research, but as someone who also likes other periods (Georgian/French Revolution), I find it frustrating that it’s dominating the market almost to exclusion. Especially as by the 1790s the fashions in both England and France were simplifying a lot.
    Elena – picturing SB as the hero is no problem for me *g* – and I agree, more stories set round the Peninsular War would be great 🙂

    Reply
  44. LOVE this blog! And love the discussion. Me, I’m kinda torn over the Regency period. I find it interesting, both to read and research, but as someone who also likes other periods (Georgian/French Revolution), I find it frustrating that it’s dominating the market almost to exclusion. Especially as by the 1790s the fashions in both England and France were simplifying a lot.
    Elena – picturing SB as the hero is no problem for me *g* – and I agree, more stories set round the Peninsular War would be great 🙂

    Reply
  45. LOVE this blog! And love the discussion. Me, I’m kinda torn over the Regency period. I find it interesting, both to read and research, but as someone who also likes other periods (Georgian/French Revolution), I find it frustrating that it’s dominating the market almost to exclusion. Especially as by the 1790s the fashions in both England and France were simplifying a lot.
    Elena – picturing SB as the hero is no problem for me *g* – and I agree, more stories set round the Peninsular War would be great 🙂

    Reply
  46. While I adore the Regency, I think we’ve fairly well battered it into the ground for now. For swashbuckling, you can’t beat the Georgian era. Remember Scarlet Pimpernel? Be still my heart. There’s nothing wrong with tight breeches and a bit of lace to really emphasize a masculine man.
    I think it’s that life of leisure of both eras that we all fantasize about. The Industrial Revolution rather dumped that idle life expectation for many.
    Pat

    Reply
  47. While I adore the Regency, I think we’ve fairly well battered it into the ground for now. For swashbuckling, you can’t beat the Georgian era. Remember Scarlet Pimpernel? Be still my heart. There’s nothing wrong with tight breeches and a bit of lace to really emphasize a masculine man.
    I think it’s that life of leisure of both eras that we all fantasize about. The Industrial Revolution rather dumped that idle life expectation for many.
    Pat

    Reply
  48. While I adore the Regency, I think we’ve fairly well battered it into the ground for now. For swashbuckling, you can’t beat the Georgian era. Remember Scarlet Pimpernel? Be still my heart. There’s nothing wrong with tight breeches and a bit of lace to really emphasize a masculine man.
    I think it’s that life of leisure of both eras that we all fantasize about. The Industrial Revolution rather dumped that idle life expectation for many.
    Pat

    Reply
  49. “Some of us at the Risky Regencies have been wondering why there couldn’t be more Peninsula-war set stories: akin to Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series but with satisfying romance.”
    From your mouth to an editor’s ears, Elena! I’ve written a manuscript very much along those lines. Currently my agent is inflicting rewrites upon me, but she’s promised to send it out after I complete the current round.
    I know that lately I’ve enjoyed reading the military fiction of the era–Sharpe, Aubrey/Maturin, Naomi Novik’s wonderful new fantasy/alternate history trilogy–more than most romances. Maybe all that proves is that I’m a bit of a tomboy. But I just haven’t connected as well to the “Prinnyworld” version of the Regency since I started researching the era myself and got thoroughly immersed in the military history side of things.

    Reply
  50. “Some of us at the Risky Regencies have been wondering why there couldn’t be more Peninsula-war set stories: akin to Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series but with satisfying romance.”
    From your mouth to an editor’s ears, Elena! I’ve written a manuscript very much along those lines. Currently my agent is inflicting rewrites upon me, but she’s promised to send it out after I complete the current round.
    I know that lately I’ve enjoyed reading the military fiction of the era–Sharpe, Aubrey/Maturin, Naomi Novik’s wonderful new fantasy/alternate history trilogy–more than most romances. Maybe all that proves is that I’m a bit of a tomboy. But I just haven’t connected as well to the “Prinnyworld” version of the Regency since I started researching the era myself and got thoroughly immersed in the military history side of things.

    Reply
  51. “Some of us at the Risky Regencies have been wondering why there couldn’t be more Peninsula-war set stories: akin to Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series but with satisfying romance.”
    From your mouth to an editor’s ears, Elena! I’ve written a manuscript very much along those lines. Currently my agent is inflicting rewrites upon me, but she’s promised to send it out after I complete the current round.
    I know that lately I’ve enjoyed reading the military fiction of the era–Sharpe, Aubrey/Maturin, Naomi Novik’s wonderful new fantasy/alternate history trilogy–more than most romances. Maybe all that proves is that I’m a bit of a tomboy. But I just haven’t connected as well to the “Prinnyworld” version of the Regency since I started researching the era myself and got thoroughly immersed in the military history side of things.

    Reply
  52. “Yikes, I should not blog pre-caffeinated! I hope no one takes it that I have anything against waltzing or tea. But one thing I love about the Word Wenches is that you have explored some different paths.”
    Oh, and ditto what Elena said, though I don’t have the excuse of being pre-caffeinated.

    Reply
  53. “Yikes, I should not blog pre-caffeinated! I hope no one takes it that I have anything against waltzing or tea. But one thing I love about the Word Wenches is that you have explored some different paths.”
    Oh, and ditto what Elena said, though I don’t have the excuse of being pre-caffeinated.

    Reply
  54. “Yikes, I should not blog pre-caffeinated! I hope no one takes it that I have anything against waltzing or tea. But one thing I love about the Word Wenches is that you have explored some different paths.”
    Oh, and ditto what Elena said, though I don’t have the excuse of being pre-caffeinated.

    Reply
  55. Susan, thanks for the introduction to the Novik books. I find that an omnibus hardcover is featured this month on the SFBC website.

    Reply
  56. Susan, thanks for the introduction to the Novik books. I find that an omnibus hardcover is featured this month on the SFBC website.

    Reply
  57. Susan, thanks for the introduction to the Novik books. I find that an omnibus hardcover is featured this month on the SFBC website.

    Reply
  58. “Susan, thanks for the introduction to the Novik books.”
    You’re welcome! I’ve been pushing those books so hard on all my friends I’m starting to feel like a street preacher or the pairs of Mormon missionaries we occasionally get in my neighborhood. I’m I’m not careful I’m going to end up going door-to-door asking my neighbors if they’ve met Temeraire as their personal dragon!

    Reply
  59. “Susan, thanks for the introduction to the Novik books.”
    You’re welcome! I’ve been pushing those books so hard on all my friends I’m starting to feel like a street preacher or the pairs of Mormon missionaries we occasionally get in my neighborhood. I’m I’m not careful I’m going to end up going door-to-door asking my neighbors if they’ve met Temeraire as their personal dragon!

    Reply
  60. “Susan, thanks for the introduction to the Novik books.”
    You’re welcome! I’ve been pushing those books so hard on all my friends I’m starting to feel like a street preacher or the pairs of Mormon missionaries we occasionally get in my neighborhood. I’m I’m not careful I’m going to end up going door-to-door asking my neighbors if they’ve met Temeraire as their personal dragon!

    Reply
  61. tal sez:
    I don’t know if it’s that I post in the wee sma’ hours, or if it’s simply senile dementia, but of course Heyer’s THE SPANISH BRIDE is set in the Peninsula! It’s AN INFAMOUS ARMY that deals with Waterloo. I can be partially forgiven because Harry and Juana Smith appear in both.

    Reply
  62. tal sez:
    I don’t know if it’s that I post in the wee sma’ hours, or if it’s simply senile dementia, but of course Heyer’s THE SPANISH BRIDE is set in the Peninsula! It’s AN INFAMOUS ARMY that deals with Waterloo. I can be partially forgiven because Harry and Juana Smith appear in both.

    Reply
  63. tal sez:
    I don’t know if it’s that I post in the wee sma’ hours, or if it’s simply senile dementia, but of course Heyer’s THE SPANISH BRIDE is set in the Peninsula! It’s AN INFAMOUS ARMY that deals with Waterloo. I can be partially forgiven because Harry and Juana Smith appear in both.

    Reply

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