Borrowed from https://virginiaplantation.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/the-fashions-of-regency-england-1795-1837/

Regency Romances, Regency Marriages

I’ve been researching the customs regarding romance, courtship, and marriage in Regency England.  Many authors in assorted genres, like SF/F author Rosemary Edghill and mystery novelist Carola Dunn, began their career by writing Regency romances.  I am attempting to do likewise.  After all, I’ve been reading Regencies since before the Bicentennial (yes, I’m dating myself) and I’ve started more than a dozen, although I’ve yet to get beyond chapter two in any of them.

Regency Fashion - 1820 to 1850 Now that I’ve made a few sales in short fiction, I am attempting to write a novel.  Since I’ve read more Regency romances than I can count, that genre seemed a good arena to hone my skills before turning my attention to science fiction and fantasy.  Yes, it’s bubblegum literature, but sometimes you’re in the mood for bubblegum.

When one thinks of Regency romances, one thinks of Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Clare Darcy, Allison Lane, Barbara Cartland, etc.  One thinks of beautiful gowns and the noble-born ladies wearing them at grand balls.  One thinks of gentlemen who follow Beau Brummell’s lead in fashion, although probably more athletic — a good Regency hero should be a Corinthian.  And sometimes, one thinks of badly written novels with little or no research done.  Rosemary Edghill tells how she was inspired to write her first Regency romance, after reading a book where a Regency heroine took a train to Malta.  Stop and think about that a moment.

I was reading a book ‑- which happened, as these things do, to be a Regency novel ‑- and not thinking at all about becoming a writer. At the time I was doing production and design at a New York graphic arts studio, a location which later found its way as background into some of my books, so I figured all my artistic impulses were pretty well taken care of, as well as a steady paycheck. But as I was reading along I encountered a passage in which the heroine took a train from London to Malta ‑- the island of Malta, you understand, an island surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea without a single bridge leading to it ‑- in 1805, several decades before the invention of the passenger train, ignoring all the rules of both history and geography ‑- and the Writing Fairy landed on my shoulder and whispered in my ear: you can do better than that.

Just as Robert Louis Stevenson was inspired to write Treasure Island because he was disappointed in the books his stepson read, so Rosemary Edghill was inspired to write Turkish Delight.  There’s probably an essay’s worth of material from writers who read something subpar, said I can do better than this, and began literary careers.

In researching how to avoid being compromised (a major plot point in both Lady Tom and Damaris in Distress), I have found some fascinating websites.

Courtship and Marriage {Isabelle Goddard}

Regency Reader {multiple authors}

Marriage in the Regency Era {Sharon Lathan}

Courting and Marriage in the Regency {Cheryl Bolen}

A Survivor’s Guide to Georgian Marriage {Ellie Cawthorne}

Ten Tropes That Make Historical Romance Awesome {G. Callen, C. Linden, L. Guhrke}


My current WIP is a fantasy story set in 1923, which I hope to submit to the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Contest if I can finish it by their deadline.  After that, I’d like to get back to Regencies.  If/when I manage to get either Lady Tom or Damaris in Distress finished, I’ll let you know in a future blog post.  Or Cherished Companion, or The Thistle and the Orchid, or Shilling Suitors, or Maid Marian’s Return, or Marguerite, or Cousin Lavinia or ….  (Did I mention I’d started more than a dozen Regency romance novels?)

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3 thoughts on “Regency Romances, Regency Marriages

  1. I’m going to date myself here, but besides Georgette Heyer (one of my favorites), have you ever read anything by the late Blanche Chenier or Marion Chesney (also late)? Also if I ever get to the bottom of what really happened, I may have a doozy of real-life Regency, set in Vienna and Hungary and involving a British young lady who appears to have married one of my Hungarian ancestors, in the spirit of the then post Napoleonic “new world order” that came out of the Congress of Vienna. I had a surprise DNA test–a lot more Brit than there should have been meaning one my Hungarian grandparents was only a quarter, at most. It sort of explains some interesting events in 1907, about a century later and a great sense of disappointment my grandfather felt after he suddenly had to find a new home when exiled by the late, and not lamented in this family, emperor Franz Josef. Should you ever need some stories about arranged marriages and how they were sometimes pulled off among aristocracy, I can tell you what happened in my own family in Central Europe–and right up to the end of WWII. Also did you know there were several types and depths of curtsy depending upon to whom the young lady was being introduced and her own rank? Also, ethnic prejudice existed then, even toward one half of the empire hosting the Congress. Metternich did exactly not endear himself to the eastern half of the empire with his famous line “Asia begins 3 kilometers east of Vienna.” Also Hungary was not quite as wild and barbaric as Barbara Cartland vaguely described in her own few novels which mentioned Hungary at all. Hungary was actually the WEALTHIER half of the dual monarchy and Hungarians, particularly certain families from Hungary’s southwest, one of whom had an estate just outside Vienna were far more friendly to and interested in the British than the Austrians often were. People forget that Hungary had a Scottish connection from long ago that most Hungarians never forgot–Queen Margaret of Scotland during the McAlpin dynasty. Hungary was also nearly half Protestant after 1705–of which the Austrians did not approve, but there was little they could do about it. The Habsburgs and Austria needed the Peace of Szatmar more than the Hungarians did, in terms of maintaining a monarchy, at that time. Anyhow, should you want to be really different, there are some materials available and there is a real true life “Regency” story for some central European and Congress of Vienna background in _By Influence and Desire_ by Rosalynd Pflaum about the Grand Duchess of Courland (now Latvia) and her three daughters. Last, Fabos is not my paternal grandfather’s real family name: it was a very old title for a black-sheep branchlet of the Szecsenyi family of Somogy County. We had a bad habit of being willing to lose our heads, and often a lot else, for a good cause…

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