Regency Period

What is the Regency Period?

I'm adding a special page dedicated to this specific question primarily because most of my romances are based in the Regency period.  While the market has changed some over the past 2 or 3 years, there have not been many Christian Regencies published.  So while most people are at least passably acquainted with Jane Austen (a Regency author who wrote about people in the Regency period), many don't know the ins and outs of the culture.  I know when I picked up my first Regency many, many years ago, I sure didn't.

This is by no means an end-all, be-all outline of the time period.  I don't want to bore anyone to death with my rambling on the political system, mourning customs, and even notable military heroes.  So I'll only include what I think is important in order to fully appreciate Regency romances.

When was the Regency Period?

Officially, the Regency Period is listed as 1811 (when Prince George "took over" the country because his father King George was ill) to 1820 (when the King died, and Prince George officially took the Crown).  However, for the purposes of novels, some will extend the time period from 1800-1820.

What is the ton?

The term, "ton" is used to refer to the elite class of nobility in England.  This would include (in order of social position) Dukes, Marquesses, Earls, Viscounts, Barons, and some lesser, fringe titled positions--and their families.  These are the people you wanted to be back then.  They had elaborate parties, pretty cool clothes, and the power of influence.

Also called, bon ton, haut ton, the Beau Monde, and much less frequently, but just as descriptively, the upper 10,000.

What is the "Season"?

This is the period of social activity, centered in London, that began when Parliament came in session in March and lasted until June.  After the Season, the nobility would flee to their country estates to escape the heat and nastiness of a summer in London.

What about everyone else?

What happened if you weren't nobility?

There was a small middle class, comprised of lawyers, doctors, merchants, etc.  Some, seemingly those especially in merchant families, aspired to become a part of the ton.  Unfortunately for them, the nobility were pretty exclusive and picky about who they let into their inner circle.  Some in the ton also looked down on the middle class because they had to work for their money...shudder...imagine such horror!

And then, as with every society, there were the poor.  Regency England is notorious for its treatment of the working, lower classes.  Slums like the Seven Dials were rife with crime because the lower classes could frequently not get the money they needed to survive.  Also, workhouses (exactly what they sound like) were places where laborers (of all ages and both genders) essentially slaved away in order to survive.  They lived in deplorable conditions and made almost no money.

Okay, that's sad.  Why write about Regency England then?

This answer might not be popular, but I'm just being honest.  I enjoy writing about the nobility.  Who doesn't want to imagine a time of elegance; beautiful dress; courtly manners; and wealthy, titled gentlemen (*wink* ignore that last part, Daniel!).  

The simple answer for why I write about Regency England is because it's FUN.

But I also strive to have elements of social consciousness in my works.  I like to write the atypical, renegade nobles who have a heart for the downtrodden...and will do more than just talk about how they wish things were different.  I want my characters to fly in the face of prejudice and arrogance that was certainly a problem with the least for some members of it.  Because while we can lose ourselves in a fictional world, I think it's also important to come away with lessons we can apply in our 21st century lives.  (Wow, that sounded very lecturish.  Proof I'm a mom, I guess!)

Something else you want to know about Regency England?  Let me know.  Leave a comment, shoot me an email, send me a overly extravagant gift basket in the mail with your question scribbled on a scrap of paper inside.  I'm not picky.