Spend Some Time With Me In the Regency Era

Mad King George III was deemed unfit to rule Britain in 1811, and his son took over as prince regent. Then when George III died in 1820, the regent became King George IV. So technically, the Regency only lasted nine years.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Culturally, however, what we consider the Regency Era spans a longer time period, from about 1795 during the French Revolution (in my mind I see images of that horrifying guillotine) to 1837, when Queen Victoria took the throne. The Regency was more than a change in royalty. It marked the end of the Georgian’s more pious, reserved society. The Prince Regent, being so very different from his father, was kept entirely removed from politics and the military. He channeled his energy into other pursuits, and it showed.

This period saw huge changes in politics, societal structure, and science–this was the beginning of the industrial revolution–but also huge changes in culture, architecture, art, literature, and fashions (the hooped skirts and powdered hair of the Georgian age gave way to the ‘classical’ high waisted dresses of the Regency). In many ways it was a period of cultural refinement, elegance and extravagance—a frivolous and ostentatious age.

And opposite the excesses of the rich was a horrible, crushing poverty and squalor. Gambling, drinking, thievery, and prostitution were rampant in the rookeries of London.

To give you some idea of what was happening, here are some Regency events:

  • The end of the French revolution (May 5, 1789 – Nov 9, 1799)
  • The Napoleonic wars (May 18, 1803 – Nov 20, 1815), which provide the background to my Illusions series
  • The war of 1812 (British impressing American sailors)
  • First vaccinations against smallpox
  • Lewis and Clark expedition

Some names you might recognize:

  • Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington (defeated Napoleon at Waterloo)
  • Jane Austen, obviously
  • Lord Byron, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley (Percy Bysshe), William Blake–those romantic poets
  • Mary Shelley and her Frankenstein
  • Mozart and Beethoven
  • Mary Wollstonecraft writing about A Vindication of the Rights of Women
  • William Wilberforce and the other social reformers of the Clapham Sect (I love the movie Amazing Grace about these people).

Though the cultural/social restrictions for women were still very real, during the regency women began to challenge old preconceptions and conventional thinking. It’s part of what makes Jane Austen so current even today. Change was everywhere. Exciting things happen in those in-between times. It sparks my imagination and gives me some latitude when creating my brave, strong female characters.

Join me for a little time in the Regency Era! I believe you will love it.

What ever happened to “the morning call?”

I type this as I sit on my couch, in my pajamas and with my hair scooped up in a messy bunch (I can’t even call it a bun–that would suggest a style). I am doing one more run through my novella, Smoke and Shadows, before I send it to the editor and load it to Amazon (for free) sometime in the next week or so. I’m comfortable and I’m being productive. This is good, right?

Warning! This is real.

But I’m a little nervous that someone will come to the door. I’m deep in my regency world–Who’s starting those fires, and when did Philip become so attractive?–and then suddenly the thought sneaks in, “I really should go get dressed and do my hair. Or maybe I should even put some makeup on. I just know someone is going to come to the door.” You may think that’s not such a big deal, but this is the beginning of a very serious, slippery slope. I may notice as I do my hair that I should start some laundry, and why don’t I just organize my closet while I’m here? And why do I still have this skirt? These thoughts are not conducive to writing.

And then I write in my story about the morning call my character receives. Regency families scheduled one or two days a week where they were “home to callers.” From say 11:00 in the morning until maybe two or three, a lady (or gentleman/family) accepted visits from her neighbors and those who wanted to make or further her acquaintance. This assumed that she wanted to visit with the person who sent in their card (name, direction, read this as address). If she didn’t feel comfortable making or furthering an acquaintance, her servant could tell the “caller” that she was not “at home to visitors.”

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When a caller was invited in, the rules of the visit were set. It should be at least fifteen minutes, but no longer than thirty. There were accepted topics of conversation, and everyone knew what they were–avoid talking about things that are too personal, no gossiping. and be pleasant.

Of course it wouldn’t work for me. First–no servant. Second–I am not so organized that I would feel comfortable saying, as an example, every Wednesday from 11-2, I will be home to callers. What if things are really going well with the writing? I don’t want to see people then. What if one of my children or a neighbor calls and I need to be with them? What if I just don’t want to change out of my pajamas? (see scary picture above). Third–I’m not a formal person. I like to visit. (I tend to prefer to visit with one or a few, rather than attend a party of many people), but when I’m getting to know someone or spending time with a friend, I can’t imagine limiting a visit to half an hour. How can you really get to know someone or continue to build a relationship in half-hour increments? (And sometimes I get personal).

No.I’ll just have to discipline myself to sit here on this couch in my pajamas, bad hair, no make-up state and write/edit. And hope everyone is “calling” on someone else this afternoon.