Georgette Heyer's Regency World

Georgette Heyer's Regency World

by Jennifer Kloester

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If you love Georgette Heyer, 'the queen of Regency romance', this is a must-read: the definitive guide to the sparkling world of Georgette Heyer's celebrated novels, which are currently being reissued.

A bestselling novelist since 1921, Georgette Heyer is known across the world for her historical romances set in Regency England. Millions of readers love the outrageous lifestyle, fashion and capricious escapades of the elegant bon ton, and no one has captured that world better than Georgette Heyer, with universally beloved novels such as Regency Buck, The Grand Sophy and Friday's Child.

Georgette Heyer's Regency World is the ultimate, definitive guide to Georgette Heyer's wonderful and enchanting realm: her heroines, her villains and dashing heroes, the shops, clubs and towns they frequented, the parties and seasons they celebrated, how they ate, drank, dressed, socialized, shopped and drove.

An utterly delightful and fun read, beautifully illustrated and compelling in its historical detail, this is a must-have for any Georgette Heyer fan.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402256912
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
Publication date: 08/01/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 208,160
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

During the extensive study and research of Georgette Heyer's work for her PhD thesis, Jennifer Kloester had access to private papers and other information through the generosity of Georgette Heyer's estate, discovering a wealth of new material on the immensely private author. Kloester lives in Victoria, Australia.

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter 1

The true Regency lasted only nine years. It began on 5 February 1811 when George, Prince of Wales, was officially sworn in as Regent and ended on 31 January 1820 when he was proclaimed King George IV. Yet the term 'Regency' is frequently used to describe the period of English history between the years 1780 and 1830, because the society and culture during these years were undeniably marked by the influence of the man who would become George IV. With the final years of the Napoleonic Wars and the enormous impact of industrialisation the Regency was an era of change and unrest as well as one of glittering social occasions, celebrations and extraordinary achievement in art and literature. Artists such as Thomas Lawrence, John Constable and Joseph Turner created iconic paintings which today constitute a tangible record of some of the people and places of the period, while many of England's greatest writers produced some of their most enduring works during the Regency. The writings of Jane Austen, Walter Scott, John Keats, Mary Shelley, Samuel Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley continue to stand as a testament to the romance, colour and vitality of the times. In many ways the Regency period was also a reflection of the character and personality of the Prince Regent himself who was one of the most flamboyant and cultured of all English monarchs. His passion for art, architecture, music, literature and hedonistic living set the tone for the era and caused his Regency to be for ever linked with the high-living, mayfly class that was the ton.

The Regency world was highly structured and the conventions attached to Regency life were so numerous and intricate that usually only those born and bred into upper-class circles knew and understood them. Above all, it was intensely class-conscious: the ton (from the French phrase le bon ton, meaning 'in the fashionable mode' and also known as Polite Society or the Upper Ten Thousand) lived a privileged, self-indulgent life; birth and family were vital to social acceptance, and social behaviour was determined by a complex set of rules of varying flexibility, with different codes of behaviour for men and women. It was an era of manners, fashion and propriety, and yet, for the upper class, it was also a time of extraordinary excess, extravagance and indulgence. By contrast the middle class was more interested in morality than manners and often found it difficult to follow the distinctive behaviour of the upper class.

The Social Ladder

During the Regency the social ladder had a fixed, inflexible hierarchy within the nobility and an almost equally rigid class structure within the rest of the population:

Middle Classes
Artisans and Tradespeople
Labouring Poor

Class was defined primarily by birth, title, wealth, property and occupation, and there were many distinctions-some subtle, others obvious-within each level of society. While visiting his country seat of Stanyon in The Quiet Gentleman, Gervase Frant, seventh Earl of St Erth, met his near neighbour, Sir Thomas Bolderwood, and was at first unsure of this jovial gentleman's exact social standing. Although Sir Thomas's countenance, wealth, title, home and family all indicated good breeding, his manners lacked polish and there was a certain rough quality in his speech, the result-as he informed the Earl-of having spent most of his life in India. Discerning one's own place on the broader social scale was not all that difficult but knowing the exact position in relation to someone else of the same class was not always easy; although Mrs Bagshot in Friday's Child was in no doubt about the sudden (and infuriating) elevation in her young cousin Hero's social status after Hero's unexpected marriage to a peer. Ancestry was key, as were property and money (most obviously shown by the number of servants and carriages one had), although wealth became a less reliable guide to a person's breeding after industrialisation and the expansion of the Empire. Acceptance into the ton was often a question of degree, as discovered by the villainous Sir Montagu Revesby in Friday's Child when his elegant air and address were enough to see him admitted into some fashionable circles but he was still excluded by many of those at the heart of the ton who considered him 'a commoner'. During the Regency, the advent of the new rich-those industrialists, financiers, merchants, manufacturers, bankers, nabobs and even admirals of the fleet who had garnered enough wealth to buy their way into the upper echelons of society-created a new complication for the class-conscious aristocrat. An heiress was always an attractive prize but marriage between a member of the peerage and a female whose parents 'smelled of shop' had to be very carefully considered before any commitment was made. A scion of a noble house might find himself cut off from his inheritance if he persisted in marrying into a much lower social class, as Lord Darracott's son, Hugh, discovered after he married a weaver's daughter in The Unknown Ajax.

Members of the aristocracy and the gentry might be different in birth and title but between them they were the ruling class. A well-bred country squire of ancient lineage but with no more than a baronetcy or a knighthood to his name, if that, might meet a duke or an earl on equal terms (particularly if he was a neighbour) and show him deference only on formal occasions. In Sylvester, Squire Orde met the Duke of Salford on his home ground and, while being perfectly polite, did not hesitate to speak his mind or censure the Duke's actions. During the Regency the nobility was made up of members of the royal family, peers above the rank of baronet and their families, statesmen and the prelates of the Church of England such as the more powerful bishops and the Archbishop of Canterbury (who took precedence over all ranks after the royal family). The gentry included baronets, knights, country landowners (often incredibly wealthy) and gentlemen of property and good birth but no title. Robert Beaumaris of Arabella was plain Mister but his family's ancient lineage (his cousin was a duke and his grandmother the Dowager Duchess), his fortune, breeding and address amply compensated for his lack of title and made him one of the most eligible bachelors in England. Apart from manners and breeding, one of the main distinguishing factors between the upper class and the upper levels of the middle class was the need for the latter to actually earn their living.

The middle class was growing fast in Regency England as increasing numbers of financiers, merchants and industrialists were added to the wealthy doctors, lawyers, engineers, higher clergy and farmers who, among others, comprised the upper ranks of the class. To be in the middle ranks of society usually meant ownership of some kind of property-land, livestock or tools-and the ability to earn a regular and reliable income. The number of servants employed in a house and the type of carriage(s) and number of horses one owned were also useful class indicators, although some among the new middle class, such as the affluent merchant Jonathan Chawleigh in A Civil Contract, tended to mistake opulence for elegance and an excess of food or finery as a sign of wealth and status. But the middle class was a very large and diverse group and it also included shopkeepers, teachers, builders, the lesser clergy, members of the government administration, clerks, innkeepers and even some of the servant class. Property was really the main factor that separated the lowest level of the middle class from the better off among the labouring poor.

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations xi
Introduction xv
Acknowledgements xvii

Chapter 1: Up and Down the Social Ladder 1
Regency Society • The Social Ladder • Royalty • The Aristocracy • The Gentry • The New Middle Class, Nabobs and 'Cits' • Further Down the Ladder • The Bottom of the Ladder • Climbing the Social Ladder

Chapter 2: At Home in Town and Country 21
Mayfair • The London House • On the Fringe: Hans Town and Russell Square • More Modest Dwellings • Domestic Staff • Great Estates and Country Living

Chapter 3: A Man's World 45
Upper-class Regency Men • A Bachelor's Life • Marriage • Bucks, Beaus and Dandies

Chapter 4: The Gentle Sex 63
The Regency Woman • All the Accomplishments • Making a Come-out • Mothers, Wives, Widows and Daughters • On the Marriage Mart • To Gretna Green • A Brilliant Match or a Disastrous Alliance • Other Options

Chapter 5: On the Town 85
The Season and the Little Season • Almack's • The Patronesses • The Best Circles • Rules and Etiquette • Scandal! • Dancing • The Theatre • In the Parks

Chapter 6: The Pleasure Haunts of London 117
Carlton House • Clubs, Pubs and Pleasure • The Bow-window Set • Vauxhall Gardens • Ladies of the Night, Brothels and Gambling Hells • Convivial Evenings • Around the Town

Chapter 7: The Fashionable Resorts 139
Brighton • The Best Address and Other Accommodations • On the Promenade and Other Entertainments • Bath • The Upper and Lower Assembly Rooms • The Pump Room • Taking the Cure • Other Diversions

Chapter 8: Getting About 161
All Kinds of Carriages • On Drivers and Driving • Public Transport • On the Road • Long-distance Travel • Turnpikes, Toll-gates and Tickets

Chapter 9: What to Wear 181
Men's Fashion from Head to Toe • The Intricacies of the Neckcloth • Women's Fashion from Hats to Hose • Hairstyles • Seals, Fobs, Snuff-boxes and Quizzing Glasses • Jewellery • Ageing Gracefully • General Fashion Glossary

Chapter 10: Shopping 223
Shopping in London • London Shops • Daily Needs • Lock's for Hats • Milliners, Tailors, Modistes and Mantua Makers • Hoby's for Boots • Fribourg & Treyer's for Snuff • Linen Drapers • Jewellers • Cosmetics

Chapter 11: Eat, Drink and Be Merry 243
Food, Removes, Repasts and a Light Nuncheon • Meals and Menus • What's for Dessert? Gunter's • Drinking by Day and by Night

Chapter 12: The Sporting Life 253
Boxing at the Fives Court, Prizefights and Pets of the Fancy • Cocks and Dogs • Revel-routs and Boxing the Watch • On the Strut to Tattersall's • Hunting, Horse Racing, Curricle Racing and Wagers • Gambling, Vowels and Debts of Honour • Duelling

Chapter 13: Business and the Military 273
The Postal Service • The City • The Stock Exchange • Banking • Money Talk • The Military • The Peninsular War • The Peace • The Hundred Days • Military Men

Chapter 14: Who's Who in the Regency 289
The Royal Family • Influential Men • The Beau and the Dandies

Appendix 1: A Glossary of Cant and Common Regency Phrases 313
Appendix 2: Newspapers and Magazines 327
Appendix 3: Books in Heyer 333
Appendix 4: Timeline 341
Appendix 5: Reading about the Regency and Where Next? 353
Appendix 6: Georgette Heyer's Regency Novels 357

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Georgette Heyer's Regency World 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
LauraFabiani More than 1 year ago
The first time I read a Georgette Heyer novel I was struck by two things; someone other than Jane Austen is queen of the Regency period, and what do those funny expressions or "Regency speak" in her novels mean?! Well, Georgette Heyer's official biographer, Jennifer Kloester has written a guide to the Regency period that any Heyer or Austen fan is sure to enjoy. The information is this book is extensive and well organized with everything you could possibly want to know about that time: its slang, fashion, etiquette, food, social statuses, venues, and much more. Black and white illustrations are also scattered throughout the book. As a writer who not only loves to read Regency novels, but also needs to research that era for my second novel, I appreciated this book as a well-written reference. It's easy to use with 14 chapters divided into subtitles, making the search for a specific topic short. If this book truly piques your interest, a bibliography for additional reading is included as well as six interesting appendixes. Now, when I read my next Heyer novel (there are 26 in all) I could look up an expression I do not understand, the name of a newspaper or place I'm unfamiliar with, find out who the best-selling authors of the time were, see what a pelisse looked like, learn why Almack's was one of the most exclusive venue in Regency London and find out who's who in Society. Whether you are a Heyer fan, a general reader, a writer, or simply interested in the history of the Regency period, you will find this book useful and a pleasure to read.
gl More than 1 year ago
Georgette Heyer's Regency World is meticulously researched, deeply informative and highly entertaining. Jennifer Kloester gives a broad introduction of the Regency period. I'd loosely associated the Regency period with the dashing lords of the romance novels -- a period close to the Napoleonic Wars and of glittering social affairs of the ton. Kloester explains that the true Regency period only covered 9 years - beginning when George, Prince of Wales, was sworn in as Regent on Feb 5, 1811 and ended when he was proclaimed King George IVon Jan. 31, 1820. Though a short period, the Regency period was a time of change with industrialization and the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Kloester describes the society of the period and shares what life was life both for the aristocracy and the gentry as well as for their many servants. Her coverage of the "Upper Servants" and the "Lower Servants" gives a clear and interesting picture of a wealthy household. We learn exactly what it would have been like for each of the different members of the staff from their daily responsibilities, housing, salary, position, status, to their living quarters. Kloester introduces us to what it meant to serve as steward, groom of the chambers, butler, valet, housekeeper, head housemaid, lady's maid, footman, coachman, groom stable boy, housemaid, kitchen maid, scullery maid, and laundry maid. In the chapters At Home in Town and Country, On the Town, The Pleasure Haunts of London, The Fashionable Resorts, and Getting About, Kloester gives us a fuller grounding of the architecture, neighborhoods, clubs, and locations that the fashionable and wealthy frequented. She doesn't just write about the development of the fashionable district of Mayfair, but also maps out the spots that are often mentioned, (Piccadilly, Bond Street, Park Lane, Grosvenor Square, Hyde Park, Westminster, Berkeley Square, Curzon Street, St.James Street) so that we have a sense of where these places are in relation to each other. Through illustrations and careful description, we are given a clear picture of what a house would have looked like, what amenities were available and how each residence would have been used during the period. Kloester weaves in characters and passages from Heyer's novels which adds to our understanding of the period and makes Heyer's stories even richer. The chapters A Man's World, The Gentle Sex, What to Wear, Shopping, Eat, Drink and Be Merry, The Sporting Life, and Business and The Military give fascinating details of different aspects of everyday life. The boxing clubs and men's social clubs, slang, legal arrangements, trusts and legacies, type of education, Almack's and its patronesses, the Upper Ten Thousand, social calls and the many rules of etiquette and behavior that ruled everyone's lives. Jennifer Kloester's Georgette Heyer's Regency World is a fascinating and delightful read. It is sure to interest and satisfy readers with a particular fondness for works set during the Regency period and/or Georgette Heyer novels. ISBN-10: 1402241364 - Trade Paperback Publisher: Sourcebooks (August 3, 2010), 416 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher.
hopefulromantic More than 1 year ago
Great resource for anyone who enjoys reading regency novels.
beingruth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As someone who's read almost all of Georgette Heyer's work (oh happy teens and then rediscovering in my twenties), I found this a fascinating look at her research methods and interests as well as the world of the time.I'm reviewing mostly because I think it's ridiculous that another reviewer is complaining that a book about an author is about an author. There's kind of a hint in the title, like Tolstoy's Russia is probably about Tolstoy more than Russia. Yes, you'll learn a bit about the Regency period, but the entire point of the book is that it's a history of a particular author's take on a period, so mentioning her books & characters is logical. Otherwise this would just be called "Regency England."This book is very much about Heyer and her novels and that is a wonderful thing!
knittingmomof3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From My Blog...Whether or not one has read a Georgette Heyer novel (if not, what are you waiting for?), Georgette Heyer¿s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester gives the reader an in depth look into life in a time period written about by many novelists, including Georgette Heyer. Historically, the Regency era was only nine years, however the common held belief is the Regency period extends from 1780 until 1830. I have heard many readers say they do not care for this time period because they find the books difficult to get into or understand, with Georgette Heyer¿s Regency World, novices and experts alike can find interesting tidbits from sketches of the various modes of transport to dresses and hats. One learns about the hierarchy of the living during this time, common phrases and terms, descriptions of service staff to members of the Regency, Kloester has it covered. I found Georgette Heyer¿s Regency World to be a well-written, in-depth look into how people lived, worked, behaved, dressed and spoke during the Regency period and was thrilled at how much I learned. I am a huge Georgette Heyer fan, but I also read many other authors who write in this time period and now I have an even deeper appreciation for the descriptions. For anyone who enjoys reading about the Regency Period or has shied away due to not understanding the odd phrases and terms, I highly recommend Georgette Heyer¿s Regency World as not only an enlightening read, but also an excellent, easy to use reference book to this extraordinary time period.
vampiregirl76 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Being a fairly new reader of Historical Romance I had no clue who Georgette Heyer was until last year (feel free to laugh ;)). But it's true she was a new author to me when I was offered to review The Grand Sophy, which I automatically fell in love with. During the span of her career Ms. Heyer wrote 26 books that were set during the Regency period, her books are popular through out the world. If you didn't know the Regency period lasted from 1811-1820. Such a short period of time, but a very much loved one. It has inspired many writers to set their story in this time.Georgette Heyer's Regency World is a detailed companion of everything you'd want to know about the Regency period. I don't read non-fiction much, but I really enjoyed this guide. I love this time period and learned so much more about a different array of topics. The information is in abundance. This book is a good tool to have when you are reading one of Ms. Heyer's book. Some of the topics that are discussed are the Social Ladder, the Marriage Mart, Gretna Green to fashions of the time, shopping, military- A Who's Who in the Regency, plus many more subjects that will delight readers. Whether your a fan of Georgette Heyer or just a fan of the Regency period you'll find yourself enthralled with this book.
DWWilkin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fan and student of the Regency, preferring Georgette Heyer's view of the Regency to sometimes the truth of history, this book is a refreshing compendium. Useful and giving a good cross reference of what the world was like in the context of the Heyer canon.Ms. Kloester though sometimes needed to step out of the rendition of the Heyer world and place history in context. Heyer, and in the period Austen, would know that the Regency Era was before the actual Regency and continued after Prinny became King. While often hard to pinpoint dates for Heyer or Austen, it should be evident that there were other items to record besides what we have been given. (I write this suggesting to you reader that there is more to discover than the great detail Ms. Kloester has given us.Ms. Kloester though does suffer along the way of her telling. Paragraphs are often so long that I could fall asleep in the middle of a multi page retelling of some point of the Regency. Not that I did not become reminded of some connection I have had in another history tome or a Heyer novel. Just that in places the writing became that of a dry lecture, and the examples from the books left to the end rather than interspersed and keeping me awake.Overall though this is recommended to all who want to study the Regency, but especially those who want to add depth to their love of Georgette Heyer Regencies.
mmyoung on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While filling a need -- a good survey of the world in which Heyer's Regency novels are set -- it left this reader wanting more. I did not feel, after reading this book, that I understood any of Heyer's characters better nor did I feel a need to go back and reread any of her books. I would suggest that this is good book for those who know little of this period of time but will only shed new light on the people found in Heyer's book for the reader who was quite unaware of the period time in England.
breadcrumbreads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's been quite a few weeks, running into months, since I picked up Jennifer Kloester's well-researched book on the world of Georgette Heyer's Regency romances. It's a purely factual book that details places, customs, culture, dress code, the shopping and travelling experiences, hobbies available to men and women, upper-society's social etiquette, tourist spots and prominent people of the day. Most of what I read I was very much aware of through reading lots of books and watching lots of movies based in this era. But it was nice to have my suspicions or guesses confirmed. At other times it was interesting to know certain other little facts, for instance, the difference between a tiger and a groom, the description and purpose of a 'yard of tin', the intricate details of the clothes Regency men and women wore and the like. I would not recommend this book as an authority on all classes prevalent in England at the time. As the author declares, this book is just meant to make clear to us what would be quite incomprehensible in our time. Therefore, much of what is dealt with in here has to do with the upper-classes or the ton of England's society in the early 1800s. In other words, this is a pretty good guide to aristocratic Regency England.
MarionII on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love the Victorian era, and got this to see 'what came before'. I didn't want a full academic work and this guide is good in that it gives just 'enough' detail. Where it falls down is in the references to Ms Heyer's characters throughout the text, as examples. As someone who has not read her fiction, it was irritating having them there, when they could have been foot/end notes, and the book would have had a wider, more general appeal.
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magpiesews More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful, complete, useful volume to have at hand while reading Georgette Heyers Regency novels.
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