Today I have Elizabeth Lance, author of several regency books, to talk about a few of the things she learned about writing a book set in that period.
Writing Regency is a uniquely pleasurable experience, if not time consuming. It takes dedication and a great deal of research to create an authentic world that will transport your reader into the world of formality, nobility and wealth. So I have created a few rules to follow while writing Regency. Shall we begin?
Rule number one:
The speech of the Regency era is formal, very few contractions were spoken by the well-educated noble class. King’s English ruled the day.
The Exception to rule one:
The working class spoke quite differently than the upper orders, dropping endings and vowels. Their speech was much more relaxed.
Rule number two:
Know your history, do your research. This is actually important to any historical novel. Know who ruled what country, and whether or not the people traveled abroad during certain times, how they traveled, and what they wore. Know who were the famous people of the times and who were their friends. Know what inventions were available at the time and what were not. Know the proper names of the time for items they used. Along with that, know your ranks, and how those titles were distributed. Who could inherit is ever important. Also, knowing the rules of who was allowed to marry whom could also be a factor. Remember at the time it was not unheard of for first cousins to marry and often did to keep the title or wealth within the family.
Rule number three:
Know the “Laws” of the ballroom. A lady could not waltz in London without the permission of the Patronesses of Almacks. (Lady Jersey was the biggest gossip and the highest ranking Patroness of the era. It was always good to keep her on your good side. Her nick name was Silent, because she never was.) A lady never approaches a gentleman she is not acquainted with. An introduction was required before a gentleman could ask for a dance to insure that the chaperone approved the gentleman’s association with their young charge. A lady must wait for a gentleman to ask her to dance. A lady must always stay within sight of her Chaperone to protect her reputation. A ruined reputation would mean disgrace and no chance of marriage. Always remember, High Society lived for scandals and could not wait to pass on the latest bit of gossip.
Rule number four:
A lady never rides astride, never at a pace faster than a trot and is always dressed appropriately in a well cut riding habit. Ladies very rarely drove their own phaeton and almost certainly always rode within a carriage, never atop one. Especially in the City. In the country a young lady might perhaps have had a cart and pony that they kept for personal use.
Rule number five:
Everyone dresses for everything. Morning calls? A lady wears a day gown. Tea time? Of course there is a change of dress for tea time. Dinner? Everyone dresses for dinner, evening attire required of course. Going to a ball, soiree, or Opera? Of course it’s going to be formal! Ball gowns and jewels for the ladies and a proper suit with a fancily tied cravat for the gentlemen are always required for these events. And as mentioned above, a riding habit for any afternoon upon a horse. Traveling? We have a gown for that. And don’t forget your Pelisse and Reticule (your coat and purse of course). And the all-important hat or bonnet for daily activities is always a must when going out.
Rule number Six:
Wealthy women of nobility did not associate with the lower class masses, with the exception of their personal servants, stable hands, groomsmen, and dance instructors, though they were never considered friends. Therefore they never married down, always up or at least even. Most marriages were not based on love but rather on rank and wealth. It was more of a business transaction.
Rule number seven:
And this is the MOST important rule, So pay attention!
Rules 3-6 are made to be broken! Whatever can happen, will happen in any Regency novel. I don’t include rule one or two in this because for the most part, while breaking rules 3-6 the ladies and gents still do it with style and class and always speak proper formal English while enjoying their rebellion against society!
And to be authentic and true to the Regency Era, the history must be observed! So travel times, sights and people should be authentic to the time. This means your Regency Heroine cannot meet and fall in love with William Shakespeare, Napoleon did not win the war and remain Emperor of France, and King George did not regain his mind and take back the throne from the Prince Regent. Beau Brummell did, in fact, set the fashion for the day and was a bosom beau of the Prince, (At least for a while) Lady Jersey was the biggest gossip of the time, Caro Lamb did make a cake of herself and chase Lord Byron incessantly. Almacks always closed their doors at eleven and allowed no one entrance after the hour, and this included the Prince. Gentlemen always wore knee breeches to Almacks and were encouraged to dance with all of the eligible young misses. Lemonade was the drink of choice served because alcohol was prohibited. If a lady was not invited to enter the hallowed halls of Almacks during her season, she was almost certain to be ostracized. And last but not least, Wealthy and titled Rakes and Rogues were always welcome because they provided fun, entertainment and there was always that chance that they could settle down and marry. Young ladies with bad reputations however were never welcomed.
Below, I’ve included a few sites to help you on your way and now that you know the “Rules” you can get started on your own Regency project! I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments and I am sure, corrections of my rules. Ever yours, Elizabeth A. Lance
David Alexander Cole, the Earl of Whitborne is tired of his life as an agent, but when he meets an enchanting young miss with an unusual request he finds he cannot help but be intrigued. Miss Joanna Deville enters his life like a whirlwind and he finds himself hard pressed not to help her in her quest for love, but soon finds himself entangled in a love triangle. The game is one of deception, make a certain gentleman jealous, and catch a jewel thief in the process, but it goes awry when he finds himself falling in love with Joanna’s devastatingly beautiful best friend, Miss Arianna Channing. What’s a spy to do when confronted with such Artifice…
Arianna Channing has always been the belle of the ball. Her entourage includes all of the most eligible gentlemen, and she enjoys the power her beauty has over them, but there is one… One delectable rake with the power to make her feel something more, something real and true, but he’s embroiled in a charade of love with her best friend. How can she ever convince the rakishly handsome Lord Whitborne to quit his deception and join her in a true romance…