Take Me Back to the Regency

I've been in love with the Regency period ever since I read my first Georgette Heyer novel many, many years ago. I don't know if it's something about that era or simply the way Heyer portrayed it, but if I could slip back in time I'd enjoy being catapulted to Regency England.

First the clothing - women's clothing seems to have been fairly comfortable - none of the tight lacing, huge bustles, high necks, or cumbersome petticoats of other eras. Even the shoes looked cute! The men's clothing seemed daring and dashing too - powdered wigs had gone out of style and tight and sexy pantaloons could show off a man's muscular thighs to advantage. A man could top off his pale yellow pantaloons with a coat from Weston of blue super-fine, fitted over broad shoulders.

The amusements - Vauxhall Gardens, masquerades, a voucher for Almack's, comedies by Sheridan at the theatre. If a man was a Corinthian, he could indulge in boxing at Jackson's. If he was a tulip of fashion, he could stroll along Bond St. twirling his walking stick. If he was a real out and outer, he could ride neck-or-nothing in his curricle.

Which brings me to the language. Heyer's characters use the most wonderful, colorful expressions. A spinster was an ape leader or a tabby. To be drunk was to be in one's cups, disguised, foxed. A beautiful woman was a diamond of the first water. You could be bacon-brained, have a by-blow with your Cyprian, enact a Cheltenham tragedy when you're punting on the river tick, try to gammon someone and end up Friday-faced. And if you've ever read much Regency romance, especially Heyer, you know exactly what those phrases mean.

I think the food would kill me - literally. They drank ale in the morning along with their steak. (No wonder there are so many terms for being drunk!) Their evening meals consisted of several courses, so it's a good thing those empire-waisted gowns were loose fitting!

I know I'm not the only one enamored of this period in history given that so many historical romances are set during the Regency. Heck, there's even a specific category called Regency Romance. Did all of these Regency fans get hooked on Georgette Heyer like I did? I don't think anyone else had written Regency romances before Heyer started writing them in the 40's/50's. Even her first few romances like The Black Moth and These Old Shades were set before the Regency. Of course, Jane Austen wrote about this time period as well, but it was HER time period. She was just writing contemporaries!

I'm not sure how many people still read Georgette Heyer. I know there are a few websites and a few groups dedicated to her (because I belonged to one for a few years), but today I don't run into many people who read Heyer, or even know who she is! I tried to get one of my friends hooked on Heyer by sending her three of my favorite Heyer books - The Black Sheep, Venetia, and The Grand Sophy. She never mentioned them after I sent them, so I'm assuming I didn't hook her. When I do discover someone who also has a love a Heyer, I get really excited. This happened recently with the mom of a kid on my kid's soccer team. Don't know how we got on the subject - perhaps discussing the movie, The Duchess, which was about the Duchess of Devonshire. Anyway, when we both discovered we were Heyerphiles, we were ecstatic and talked about her endlessly.

So that's why I'd like to be transported back to Regency England for a few months - of course, I'd need to be transported as a wealthy member of the Ton!

Oh, and Sourcebooks has been republishing Heyer's novels in trade with absolutely beautiful covers. I've started collecting a few and one day hope to have all of Heyer's romances. (So if you ever want to buy me a birthday present....)


Vanessa Kelly said...

Carol, I adore, adore, adore Georgette Heyer. She was the first Regency author I read when I was a teenager, and that's what got me hooked on the Regency.

I'm fortunate enough to know lots of Heyer lovers, likely because I write Regency romances and hang with that crowd. As you say, Source Books is doing lovely reprints, and more of her work is now coming out on audio books. So that may bring her a new audience.

BTW, your favorites are some of my favorites, too! I also love Arabella and My Cousin Kate, which has a bit of a suspense element to it. And then there's Regency Buck! Man, I could go on and on.

Carol Ericson said...

Vanessa, I just read another of my favorites - Cotillion - I love how that relationship works out, and Freddy's father is wonderful! Which reminds me, I'm going to B&N this weekend to buy the kids' summer reading books, and I MUST pick up your book, Mastering the Marquess because I enjoy current Regencies as well as GH.

Carly Carson said...

Me! Me! Me! I love Georgette Heyer! I only wish she'd written more. Arabella and Venetia are both favorites of mine and also one I think is called Devil's Cub. She was such a talented writer. I've read those books over and over and I'm glad to know they're being reissued because I don't have them all. Oh, I could go on all day.


Carol Ericson said...

Carly, boy are you greedy! She did write quite a bit. That was always my complaint about Jane Austen. Heyer also wrote mysteries, which I haven't read.

Nicole North said...

I've never read a Georgette Heyer novel. I know, I'm deprived! But I do enjoy reading modern day Regency set historicals. I just read a great one by Jenna Peterson!

Sandy said...


I loved Heyer's regencies, and I read everyone single one I could get from the library.

She did a great job transporting to another era.

Anonymous said...

OK, now Carol, you've done it. I'm going to have to get back to the bookstore and pick up a few Georgette Heyers. She was one of my sister's and my favorites when we were growing up.

Anne Rainey said...

I've never read Heyer. I feel like I've been seriously missing out!

Carol Ericson said...

Nicole, you MUST get yourself to a library this summer (or buy one of the gorgeous Sourcebook reprints). I'd recommend The Black Sheep, The Grand Sophy, Venetia, Friday's Child, or Cotillion to start!

Sandy, I've read every one also, and some several times. I just finished Cotillion and April Lady, and I'm now re-reading Friday's Child.

Clare, I discovered GH at the tender age of 13, I believe. One of the reasons I wanted to write romance, although I've never tried my hand (keyboard?) at a Regency.

Anne, you must immediately remedy this deficiency in your reading habits - see suggestions to Nicole above.

Chiron said...

The books you all are mentioning sound like lots of fun! Great blog, Carol.

I haven't read much Regency but you do make it sound intriguing!

Chiron O'Keefe
The Write Soul: www.chironokeefe.blogspot.com

Carol Ericson said...

Chiron, you really should pick one up - they are a delight.

Ruth C. said...

I believe that I have every book that GH ever wrote and they are all on my keeper shelves.!!

Every few years I re-read them.

If you haven't read a Heyer - get thee to the bookstore and picdk up several NOW.!!!!!!!

Historicals are my favorite genre and Regency my favorite subgenre.!!

Carol Ericson said...

Ruth, same here - all the GH books I own are on my keeper shelf as well - just want to get my hands on those Sourcebook reprints. I agree, for those who haven't had the pleasure of losing themselves in Heyer's world of Regency bucks and saucy chits with their sparkling dialogue, you're in for a huge treat!