Writers can often become like horses with blinders. We become deeply involved in our subject matter, forgetting that others may not be so… enthusiastically invested 🙂
When I say I write Regency romances, I sometimes forget that not everyone knows what I’m talking about. That is when I back-paddle and say, “What I meant to say is: I write historical romances!”
So what are “Regency Romances”?
A regency romance is a love story set in England between 1795-1837. It’s sandwiched between the Georgian era and the Victorian era.
Why is it called the Regency era? Quite simply, the monarch at the time King George III was considered unfit to rule. So his underage son George IV was appointed ruler and given the title: Prince Regent. He eventually succeeded his father in 1820.
I would say THE biggest piece of literary fiction to come out of that era is Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Why has that era captured the imagination of so many romance writers? Mostly because it was a golden, Renaissance age where the arts and culture flourished. The Prince Regent, a fat, spoiled royal and avid art lover, spent a fortune on the restoration and beautiful architecture of buildings. The British nobility reached new heights with their lavish displays of culture and refinement.
On the other hand, the gap between the rich and the poor grew astronomically. Beside the glittering ballrooms of the haute ton (high society) ran the crime-infested rookeries (slums) filled to the brink with thieves and prostitutes. It was also a time of excess! Excess in drinking, gambling and womanizing.
There were other changes to British society during that era as well. The industrial revolution, which occurred during that time, brought about many changes such as the massive growth in population and influx of immigrants. Steam printing changed the face of the press. Gossip rags flourished, and fashionable novels became widely spread.
To add to the drama of that period, in the backdrop were the Napoleonic wars, including the famous Battle of Waterloo.
So you have war, glamour, strife, and royal mistresses coupled with a technological boom and a marked shift in the classes… no wonder the Regency period is popular with writers! We have plenty of historical drama pre-existing to work with and embellish.