We Are Moving!

We are Moving!

Please take a moment and change your bookmarks for us. We have moved to a new, and better, site.


We Look Forward to seeing you there.

There will no longer be posts on this site after January 31, 2012

Thank you and we cannot wait to see you at our new home

You Gotta Read Reviews Admin Team

Saturday, April 25, 2009

What is Regency?

When I tell people I write Regency Romance novels, their response is usually one of two things; “Regency? Oh, I love Regency!” Or, a puzzled frown with, “What is Regency?”

To those who ask that second question, Regency is a specific time period in England. It officially began when King George III, who had frequent periods of insanity, was finally declared mad. His son, the Prince of Wales, was officially name Regent in his father’s stead, although most historians agree the queen really ran the country. This happened in 1811 and the Prince, sometimes referred to as “Prinny” was Regency until 1820 when King George III died and the prince was crowned King George IV.

The expanded Regency era is often thought of as anything from the time of Jane Austen and the Napoleonic War, until the time Queen Victoria, who is credited with creating a huge moral change in the country, ascended the throne. Although some historians believe the growing influence of the non-Anglican churches had more to do with the changing values that became the Victorian ideals than Queen Victoria herself Victoria also had a very serious - possibly even prudish - husband who probably affected society as much as or more so that Victoria.

Clothing fashions underwent a dramatic change in the Regency era. The influence of the charismatic Beau Brummel took men out of bright colors, satins and ruffles that make one think of a peacock, which were so popular in the Georgian era and before, and put them into more subdued colors and styles that evolved into the modern day tuxedo. Josephine Bonaparte, who was influential in France, created the simpler women’s fashions of flowing, empire-style gowns reminiscent of Greek gowns, which were quickly adopted by the English who, no doubt, were grateful to rid themselves of corsets, panniers, and laughable headdresses. People lost the powdered wigs and began bathing on a regular basis. Whew!! The wealthy even had indoor plumbing to aid in that worthy indeavor.

While images of hedonistic pleasures often come to mind, the Regency era was also steeped in manners, honor, and duty. If a girl were discovered to have been alone with a man, she was instantly considered ruined. The family expected the man to marry her, thus saving her from such a terrible fate of being ruined and thus not likely to ever marry well.

Manners were very formal. People shuddered at the thought of addressing a person to whom they had not yet been properly introduced. It was always best to be introduced by someone who knew them both. And ladies who walked up to a gentleman and spoke to him was considered ill-mannered. There was a protocal to everything from how many times a lady could dance with a gentleman in one evening (twice), to what to wear while walking (a walking gown).

The Regency era was also a time of great change. The Industrial revolution was making commoners wealthier than some aristocrats, education became more readily available to the average person, and new churches preached morality to the lower classes. The nobility feared a repeat of the French Revolution because of the riots, the American revolution and, more recently, the War of 1812.

I love Regencies because I love the way they spoke so eloquently. Reading Jane Austen is almost like ready poetry. Each word was carefully chosen for its beautiful wording, imagery and cadence. There was no mauling the language by the upper classes. They also had a great deal of wit. Indeed, wit was prized and they excelled in using the understatement.

Women had more freedom than in the previous eras and again in the later Victorian era. Women, particularly widows, had money, power and fun unlike the Victorian era which turned widows into black-clad hermits expected to mourn all their lives. In the Regency era, men did not keep their wives under their thumb. In fact, they each had their own interests, hobbies, and friends. And often, their own money.

Regency men were educated and were taught to dance, read and recite poetry from a young age. They were athletic; they hunted, raced, fenced, rode horses. They were manly. Strong. Noble. Resolute. Honorable. That is why I love them!

And yes, I'm totally, hopelessly, completely in love with Cole of The Stranger She Married and Richard of Troubled Hearts. My husband, oddly enough, doesn't mind.


Becky said...

What a great post. I enjoyed learning more about the Regency era. I always thought they had worn some beautiful gowns during that time period. I enjoy reading regency fiction. I love reading Jane Austin. Emma by Jane Austen was one of my favorites. I have also read books by Jo Beverley, Georgette Heyer, Mary Balogh and Elizabeth Boyle to mention a few.

Kelley said...

Great post. I prefer reading books set in ancient or Dark Age time periods, but your post has me thinking about what I might be missing.

Phyllis Campbell said...

Donna, I learned a great deal from your post. Although I read (and trying to write) Regency, I still didn't know a few things. Thanks for teaching me! I agree with you. I love Regency too, because they seemed so much more romantic back then. lol


lastnerve said...

Loved the post and I never knew what Regency was until I read "Before the Season Ends" by Linore Rose Burkard. I am totally in love with Regency now. Thanks so much for explaining it in more depth for me. I finally can say I truly know what Regency is.