Regency Reference Books

A Walk down Memory Lane

by Ruth Axtell

I was recently emptying out and cleaning a bookshelf, one that held my non-fiction. I realized that most of my reference books are books I’ve acquired over the years (decades) to aid me in researching whichever story I happen to be working on at the time. They are grouped by subject, so they are like a roadmap of my writing career.

Winter Is PastFor example, along half a shelf were books on Sephardic judiasm, judiasm in the first centuries A.D., synagogues across Europe, the formation of the Methodist church, and portraits of the great 18th century revival. These books cover the period when I researched and wrote my first-ever regency historical, Winter Is Past, a love story between a Sephardic Jew in London and a Methodist nurse. Talk about star-crossed lovers.

Another shelf has books on the history of the American sailing ship, piloting, seamanship, and small boat handling, for a historical romance I did about a wooden boatbuilder (Lilac Spring).

Getting back to regencies, here are some of my favorite reference books, which I collected The Dandyin those years preceding Google: Quacks, Fakes and Charlatans in Medicine (used primarily in researching The Healing Season, a story about a surgeon in regency times); Moers’ The Dandy (great resource for information on Beau Brummell and all those who aped him);  Colley’s Britons, for a general history of the nation; and The War of Wars, a very thorough history of the Napoleonic wars. The Streets of London from the Great Fire to the Great Stink is a detailed description of street life in regency London (which I also needed in writing The Healing Season). The London Encyclopedia, which I was fortunate to get used, is a wonderful resource on just about any geographic building and landmark in London and its environs. I used a 16th century mansion, Osterley Park, within a short train ride from the center of London, for the country estate of one of my characters in The Rogue’s Redemption. I was able to tour the place in person, but if I hadn’t, there it is listed in The London Encyclopedia, complete with a print of it on page 568.

London EncyclopediaFor a different kind of London residence, there’s a print and entry for the Millbank Penitentiary, built in 1821. It was pulled down in 1903, so you need a reference like The London Encyclopedia to pinpoint what buildings did and didn’t exist in London 200 years ago. I set my first regency in Belgravia, until a critique partner pointed out to me that this London neighborhood had not begun to be developed until AFTER the regency. Oops! Thank goodness for sharp-eyed and knowledgeable critique partners.

John Russell’s London, is another fun, fact-filled history of London and its various neighborhoods over the centuries.London

For regency fashion, I have Ackerman’s Costume Plates 1818-1828, which has detailed prints of late-regency gowns.

This is only a portion of my historical research books, which I don’t pull down from the shelves so much anymore. These days it’s easier to “google” an item in question. But having read these books cover-to-cover at one time or another certainly gave me a more in-depth knowledge of the 19th century than just googling disjointed pieces of information would have.

What are some of your favorite reference books for history?

 

War of Wars Streets of London Ackerman's

An Earlier Regency?

Charles James Fox, Source: Wikipedia
Charles James Fox, Source: Wikipedia

Laurie Alice here,

Since this is January, I wanted to write something that happened in that month during the Regency. Although I know many things did, I ran across something I could not resist writing about, though it takes place twenty-two years earlier than the Regency that has given rise t so many novels and films.

In 1788, George III’s illness manifested itself so severely, many believed he would not recover. Pitt the Younger, prime minister at the time, considered a Regency for the simple fact that it was that or lose his power. Charles Fox, after all, was firmly in the Prince of Wales’ camp and had too great a shot to gain power and depose Pitt without a Regency bill.

Pitt the Younger Source: Wikipedia
Pitt the Younger
Source: Wikipedia

Yes, politics has always been about power.

So, during January of 1789,  Pitt set a Regency bill into motion and it was passed by the House of Commons. This bill kept the Prince of Wales under firm control of Parliament with such provisions as how the Prince must keep the King’s present government and he could not manage the king’s real or personal estate without Parliamentary approval. In short, Prinny would be nothing more than a figurehead monarch.

Precedent for the future?

The bill never reached the House of Lords, for the King

Mad King George III, Source Wikipedia
Mad King George III,
Source Wikipedia

recovered by March, but the seeds were planted for the all-important Regency era that made it’s debut in 1811.

For a little extra, here is a poem about the almost Regency, written by Robert Burns, that great Scottish poet whose birthday is celebrated on January 24.

Ode to the departed Regency bill 1789

Daughter of Chaos’ doting years,

Nurse of ten thousand hopes and fears;

Whether thy airy, insubstantial shade

(The rights of sepulture now duly paid)

Spread abroad its hideous form

On the roaring Civil Storm,

Deafening din and warring rage

Factions wild with factions wage;

Or underground, deep-sunk, profound,

Among the demons of the earth,

With groans that make the mountains shake, Thou mourn thy ill-starr’d, blighted birth; Or in the uncreated Void, Where seeds of future-being fight, With lightened step thou wander wide, To greet thy Mother – Ancient Night, And as each jarring, monster mass is past, Fond recollect what once thou wast:

In manner due, beneath this sacred oak,

Hear, Spirit hear! thy presence I invoke!

By a Monarch’s heaven-struck fate!

By a disunited State!

By a generous Prince’s wrongs!

By a Senate’s strife of tongues!

By a Premier’s sullen pride,

Louring on the changing tide!

By dread Thurlow’s powers to awe,

Rhetoric, blasphemy and law!

By the turbulent ocean,

A Nation’s commotion!

By the harlot-caresses

Of borough addresses!

By days few and evil!

Thy portion, poor devil!

By Power, Wealth, Show! The gods by men adored!

By nameless Poverty! their hell abhorred!

By all they hope! By all they fear!

Hear!!! And appear!!!

Stare not on me, thou ghastly Power;

Nor grim with chained defiance lour:

No Babel-structure would I build

Where, Order exiled from his native sway, Confusion may the regent-sceptre wield, While all would rule and none obey:

Go, to the world of Man relate

The story of thy sad, eventful fate;

And call Presumptuous Hope to hear,

And bid him check his blind career;

And tell the sore-prest Sons of Care,

Never, never to despair.

 

Paint Charles’s speed on wings of fire,

The object of his fond desire,

Beyond his boldest hopes, at hand:

Paint all the triumph of the Portland Band:

Mark how they lift the joy-exulting voice; And how their numerous Creditors rejoice:

But just as hopes to warm enjoyment rise, Cry, Convalescence! and the vision flies.

Then next pourtray a darkening twilight gloom Eclipsing, sad, a gay, rejoicing morn, While proud Ambition to th’ untimely tomb By gnashing, grim, despairing fiends is borne:

Paint ruin, in the shape of high Dundas

Gaping with giddy terror o’er the brow;

In vain he struggles, the Fates behind him press, And clamorous hell yawns for her prey below:

How fallen That, whose pride late scaled the skies!

And This, like Lucifer, no more to rise!

Again pronounce the powerful word;

See Day, triumphant from the night, restored.

Then know this truth, ye Sons of Men!

(Thus ends thy moral tale,)

Your darkest terrors may be vain,

Your brightest hopes may fail.

Why Regency?

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you are a fan of the Regency fiction genre. You’re all about high-waisted dresses, chaperones, Almack’s, Gunther’s, house parties, and more.

But do you know why there ever was a Regency? It was madness! The madness of King George III. His health required the contingency plan of a prepared handing off of the reins of power – this plan laid out a form of emergency government/royal powers which was known as the regency. It’s a situational set-up for when a monarch is unable to fulfill his duties.

You can’t uncrown a living king, right? So, in their wisdom, the high advisors of the land made the Prince of Wales, eventually Goerge IV, the Prince Regent.

King George III (king during the American Revolution) had a disease now thought to be Porphyria. Porphyria is a rare blood disease and drove the king to complete madness and seclusion in 1810.

King George III
(“Farmer George”)

For Americans, King George III is a vaguely hated figure, because of the Revolutionary War, but he doesn’t sound all bad. His nickname was “Farmer George” due to his keen interest in agriculture. Said to be a devout Christian, he was a dedicated, yet repressive parent (not enough grace?), a faithful husband, and a plain-living man. The information about his interests is fascinating, if you decide to learn more, and the manner in which his first born son rebelled is an instructive cautionary tale.

The Prince Regent,
King George IV, (“Prinny”)

Do you enjoy knowing the nicknames of historical figures? If you know some, please share in the comments.

Shhsh!!! Don’t Tell Anyone

Vanessa here,

Happy New Year everyone.

We here at Regency Reflections wishes each of you a safe and happy 2014.  I’m very proud of my colleagues. We’ve got some exciting Regency books releasing this year. New projects to crow about, but I thought today, I’d let you in on a secret, but don’t tell anyone.

Some of our authors are multi-talented.

Naomi Rawlings has her second book coming out, Wyoming-Heir-lowres-189x300The Wyoming Heir. Since its by Naomi, their must be memorable kisses: The Wyoming Heir:

Given a choice, Luke Hayes wouldn’t ever leave his Wyoming ranch. Yet when his estranged grandfather dies, leaving him everything, he’ll travel to Valley Falls, New York—but only to collect his sister and his inheritance. He won’t be roped into saving a floundering girls’ school, no matter what mathematics teacher Elizabeth Wells says.

Elizabeth has defied social convention and her own family for the sake of her beloved Hayes Academy. Luke is pure rancher, from the tip of his Stetson to the scuff on his boots, yet he’s also becoming her unlikely ally. Only he can help save her job and school…but how much will she lose when the time comes for him to leave?

For more information about Naomi and her novels, visit her website at www.NaomiRawlings.com.

Now, its not a Regency, so don’t tell anyone you learned about it from me.

Laurie Alice Eakes, has her twenty-first, or hundredth book coming out. She writes so many I’ve lost track.  the-professors-heartThe Professor’s Heart:

Mia Roper has what she always wanted

Her independence, her career and her home back East. But when a train wreck strands her in Hillsdale, Michigan, the town she once called home, Mia begins to wonder if she made the right choice to leave Hillsdale—and her true love—behind.

Rescuing injured passengers, Professor Ayden Goswell can’t believe his eyes. Could that really be Mia, the woman who once owned his heart, emerging from the wreckage? Long ago, Mia and Ayden chose their careers over love. But God, it seems, may have other plans for them….

A wreck, a reluctant heroine, what’s not to love, but since it’s not a Regency don’t tell anyone you heard it from me.It’s available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble or CBD.

Ok, I got those secrets off my chest. I feel better, probably won’t need a mustard plaster. There probably will be more books, non-Regencies that my wonderful friends here will be releasing this year: Kristy, Camy, Ruth, etc. That I won’t be telling anyone about :), but I am so proud of the gaggle of authors here, I just couldn’t help spilling the beans.

PS. Tweeting this is not the same as verbally telling.

 

 

 

The Nonesuch

I’ve enjoyed reading this month’s posts about “keeper” regencies—those stories we go back and reread. Even though we’re familiar with the story line and it’s hero and heroine, we once again fall prey to its magic as we open to page one.nonesuch_sml

One of my favorite regencies, which I revisit every couple of years or so, is Georgette Heyer’s The Nonesuch. I’ve loved all the Georgette Heyer regencies I’ve read, but a few stand out. I think this latest reread may be my fourth of The Nonesuch. Why is it so special? As Laurie Alice Eakes wrote in an earlier post about her favorite regency, the story line is not terribly unique. In The Nonesuch, the heroine is the classic poor, yet well-educated and high-born, lady, a bit past her prime (aka marriageable age) at 26. The hero is “top-of-the-trees” (aka out of her league). They meet by chance in a village way up in Yorkshire, where she is governess to a spoiled beauty.  He is the typical perfect catch who at 35 has not yet been caught by any woman of marriageable age. He is also a Corinthian, which means he is an athlete, excelling at all the sports popular with regency bucks. The heroine is suspicious of Corinthians because of those who engage in the regency version of extreme sports (like racing their high-perch phaetons), often leading younger men astray. But she is hard-pressed not to be impressed with this Corinthian, who is not only handsome, but considerate, mature, thoughtful, and with a sense of humor to match her own. He also singles her out, so no matter how much she tries to guard her heart, it’s a losing battle from the starting line.

The Nonesuch is a classic Cinderella tale of an impoverished heroine winning her prince’s heart. I am sure I will be rereading it again sometime in the future as well as other Georgette Heyer regencies (Frederica and Faro’s Daughter come to mind).

Last month I blogged here about revisiting and re-editing a regency of my own, The Rogue’s Redemption. It’s now available online at Amazon. Here is a copy of the cover:

What do you think of this rogue’s killer blue eyes? Does the heroine stand a chance?

raxtell_roguesredemption

 

For a description of this and other books by Ruth Axtell, visit her website at www.ruthaxtell.com

Ruth Axtell (2)

“Gentleman Rogue”,Traditional Regency book reviewed by Susan Karsten

Prepping for this post, I read “Gentleman Rogue” by Barbara Neil, for the third time. I am not usually a re-reader of books, favorites or not. My Regency reading habit is voracious, but I don’t keep the books, unless they are VERY special — I just don’t have the shelf space. Most of my Regency shelf is taken up by paperback editions written by my two favorite authors. Far down to the right end are the other ‘keeper’ books and that is where “Gentleman Rogue” resides.

Front & Back covers
(the blurb does not do it justice)

Quite often, the best traditional Regency books are the ones published by Signet. “Gentleman Rogue”, written by Barbara Neil, however, was published by Harlequin in 1993.

The book is intelligent and hilarious. Enough so that I was willing to read it a third time for this blog, and my husband can attest that I was laughing (chortling) out loud last night.

Hero: Ryder Starr, Heroine: Aurora Valentin (her nickname is little Miss Bishop). The preposterous, yet entertaining premise is that hero Ryder Starr is going around trying to cause scandals which he hopes get back to his nefarious inheritance-stealing cousin. He hopes the cousin will pay him off, via his share of the inheritance, to stop the embarrassing contretemps. His path crosses with the lovely and high-minded Aurora Valentin, and sparks fly, with her resisting all the way.

A favorite quote from “Gentleman Rogue”:

“Perfection is one of those ideals that may have been conceived solely

in order to be dashed.”

This quote is my personal favorite from this book, because I have frequently thought or said similar sentiments.

I have been reading Regencies for about twenty years. I get most of mine at used book stores/sales, thrift stores, and at the library. I enjoy the setting and social mores, and appreciate that most traditional Regencies are “clean” and not full of bedroom scenes, infidelity, and immorality.

I hope you can lay your hands on “Gentleman Rogue” ~ it’s highly enjoyable.

P.S. I believe Barbara Neil also wrote under the name Barbara Sherrod.

 

Fallen Angel by Charlotte Louise Dolan

I have been reading Regency romances since I picked up my first one in ninth grade, by accident. Since then, I’ve been buying Regency romances at the bookstore, through reader mail subscriptions, and more recently through garage sales, Goodwill/Salvation Army/thrift stores, and eBay or online used bookstores. I’ve acquired so many paperbacks that I’m not entirely sure where I’ve gotten them from by now, but they’re all waiting on my bookshelves for me to pick them up to read.

9780451175014The most recent book I read was Fallen Angel by Charlotte Louise Dolan. I was on the Traditional Regency Romance Aficionados group on Goodreads.com (not very active, but a neat group) when someone mentioned some books by Charlotte Louise Dolan. Several people recommended Fallen Angel, and I looked through my catalog. Sure enough, I had bought it at some garage sale years ago and it was on my shelf.

I started reading it and was hooked from page one. Here’s the back cover blurb:

Man of Mystery — It was simple for Miss Verity Jolliffe to find out a great deal about Gabriel Rainsford, Lord Sherington. His good looks and wealth were evident His arrogance and ruthlessness were legendary. — Still, a question remained. What could Sherington see in a modest young lady like her, when he had the voluptuous Eleanor Lowndes as his mistress, and the most beautiful belles of the town eager to be his bride? Did he want her as a plaything for his jaded desires? Or as a wife in a mockery of a marriage? Or as a means of revenge on all womankind? But whatever he wanted, Verity feared that one thing was certain. Caught in his spell, she would find it heartbreakingly hard to say no….

Camy here: Okay, I admit the blurb is rather melodramatic and it doesn’t really tell what’s going on in the story. The writer’s style sometimes reminded me of Carla Kelly, but her humor reminded me of Georgette Heyer.

The hero is a bit ruthless, but it’s because he has been unwanted by everyone in his family since he was a child, and he has stopped caring about anyone to protect his own scarred heart. However, his lack of feeling sometimes makes him completely clueless as to women and how to treat them, which turns out to be really funny at times. It reminds me a bit of how Christian Western historical romance author Mary Conneally’s heroes are manly but clueless when faced with a strong woman.

What was really interesting was the heroine’s concept of love. It was so Christlike that I was surprised to see it in a book published in the secular market. She has her own flaws, but it only makes her more endearing and sympathetic. She is also strong and sensible, one of my favorite types of heroines.

9781610847971_p0_v1_s260x420What’s even better is that this book has been released as an ebook by the author. You can also try to get it from Paperbackswap or some similar book trading website. I immediately bought the ebook version since I loved the book so much, and my paperback version was looking a little ratty (I posted my paperback copy on Paperbackswap and it was picked up right away).

I hope you try this book and enjoy it as much as I did!

Giving Thanks for a Bountiful Harvest

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our friends and readers in the United States!

Kristi here. Thanksgiving is not a traditional holiday in England, but being thankful for a bountiful harvest is hardly a new concept.

From medieval days, harvesters celebrated Lammas Day on August 1 where they brought loaves of bread made from the first harvested wheat were brought to the church. This was called the Loaf Mass, though some writings indicate that prior to offering loaves, parishioners offered lambs, making it a lamb mass and giving it the name.

When Henry VIII broke from the Catholic church, the celebration shifted to the end of the harvest, marking the successful completion of the gathering.

Some aspects of the harvest festivals include the tradition of the corn dolly, a large feast, and a sort of mini-parade with the horse pulling the final load of crops being decorated with garlands and flowers.

Harvest festivals were frequently held at the time of the Harvest moon. Occasionally this put the festival in October, but more frequently it landed in September, in close proximity to the mop fairs.

Churches were no longer a large part of the festival in Regency days, though by 1850 they were once more integral to the celebration. The connection with the church continues today, though it frequently includes a focus on those less fortunate and suffering from hunger and famine.

Whether you are feasting with family today or just grabbing a ham and turkey sandwich on your way home from work, take the time to be thankful.

Have a wonderful day.

 

Regency Research

I have been editing and proofreading a manuscript I published some years ago, to which I have recently received the publisher’s rights back. I am going over the story in order to self-publish it as an e-book on Amazon. What strikes me about rereading a story written a while ago is how much research goes into writing a regency—or any historical, for that matter. When one is in the process of writing it, one takes this for granted. But when you read it long afterward, it’s enough to make you shake your head. Did I really know all that stuff?

In this story, which takes place in London ballrooms, a country estate, and on the U.S. frontier of Maine, I had to research both the social mores of regency society, the low-class pastimes of regency rakes (cockfighting, gambling, etc.), the sports that the athletic sorts– aka Corinthians–indulged in, before turning to the fledgling settlements of “the Maine Territory,” and the wealth being generated from its pine forests.

So, you can see that a whole range of information was needed in order to build the framework for the love story between my hero and heroine.

Take the gambling game of faro, for example. I’d read enough Georgette Heyer regencies to be somewhat familiar with the game, but I never knew until I researched it that it was played on a board, upon which the cards were laid out like so:

Farolayout
Layout of a Faro Board. Source: Wikipedia

I was fortunate to be able to take a trip to England during the researching of this book. Not only did I visit the London Museum, which has a wealth of information and artifacts on everyday life in the city over the centuries, but I also discovered a wonderful mansion not too far outside of London. This estate served as a model for the setting of a house party in my story. I was able to tour the rooms and grounds and get the layout for my hero and heroine’s stay at a fictionalized version of Osterley Park. As I walked the area, my plot grew.

Osterley_Park_House,_London-25June2009-rc
Osterley Park House, London. Source: Wikipedia

Lastly I needed to research the city of Bangor, Maine and the logging industry of 1815, before Maine had its statehood. It was still a part of Massachusetts and known as the Maine Territory. But following the War of 1812, those involved in the lumber industry were making a sizable profit cutting down the majestic pine trees of the Maine forests and selling them for ship masts, lumber, and shingles both to Europe and to the American cities farther south. My plot advanced as I imagined my hero going from the ballrooms of London to the rough lumber camps of the Maine woods in winter, then risking his neck on a river drive in spring as the picture below depicts:

lumbermen
Selections from Picturesque Canada, An Affectionate Look Back, Sketch no. 40, 1882-85, Pandora Publishing Company, Victoria, B.C.

Of course my hero is a former soldier, who survived the Battle of Waterloo, so he is used to danger. But as a Redcoat among Yankees, he must face many challenges before being accepted into the ranks of the lumbermen. All for the sake of winning the girl.

I hope those who read the updated version of A Rogue’s Redemption will enjoy both the historical detail as well as the timeless love story.

 

 

Thankful for Life ~ by Susan Karsten

Hi, all!

My thoughts and prayers are with the pro-life movement more than ever these days because my daughter is involved with a Teens 4 Life group, and does fund-raising and essay-writing to advance and support the cause of life.

What does this have to do with Regency England? A controversial author in those days was the Rev. Thomas Malthus. His erroneous fears that population would outstrip resources gained credence and even today, his anti-life stance is still studied.

Not so, in his case.

A surprising defender of life (though not on Biblical grounds) of that day was the author Shelley, who wrote about “the hardened insolence of any proposal to rob the poor of the single alleviation of their sufferings and their scorns.” The famed political writer Cobbett also called Malthus a ‘monster.’

The battle against life has been going on since the Garden of Eden. But we have God’s word to guide our minds and we all know the eighth commandment “Thou shall not murder.”

My 8 year-old niece recently saw my daughter’s fund-raising display and said, “It wouldn’t be okay for a baby to kill an adult, so it’s not okay for an adult to kill a baby.” So well said, little one.

So true.

So, let’s always choose life. Jesus has defeated death and we are on His side.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live.” Deut. 30:19 (ESV)