Thursday, June 25, 2009

Why I Read and Write Regency

When I was a youth, I read almost everything, especially sci fi and fantasy, but was always more interested in the interpersonal relationships and romances than the plot itself. I started reading Romances when I was about 14 or 15, and was immediately attracted to historicals of all kinds.

You’re going to laugh when I confess how clueless I was, but I didn’t really know what a Regency was until I started really researching it. Until then, I couldn’t have told the difference between a Regency and a Victorian. But I love historicals overall. I grew up on Little House on the Prairie books, Jane Eyre, Anne of Green Gables. Historicals are like a whole new world, totally different from the modern world in which I live. Regency in particular is fun because the manners and mores of society are so formal and lavish (unlike my reality). Besides what’s not to love about men who can dance? Not to mention that there are few things as manly as a man riding horseback or fencing or willing to engage in a dual to protect his honor. Or that of his lady love. I have a thing for medieval romances, too. Love those knights who are all about duty and honor.

Honestly, I didn’t know if I wanted to choose Georgian, Regency or Victorian until I really did my research. I discarded Georgian because I detested the white wigs and the wide panniers women wore then. I chose Regency over Victorian for a number of reasons: it was during and right after the Napoleonic war, which provides the perfect backdrop for the tortured hero still haunted by the horrors of war (my favorite kind of fictional character); it was a unique period, people were more free thinking and also their days were filled with huge, lavish parties which adds an element of fantasy or magic (yeah, still soooo not like my real life); I like the clothing styles and part of the fun of a historical is getting immersed in the ‘world’ which includes describing clothing; and a large part of my decision to go with fantasy is because it is a solid market niche which helps with marketing.

To do research, I read a lot of Regencies, but the most helpful resources are books actually written by authors who lived in that era, which is why Jane Austen is used so much by Georgian/Regency Era authors; she lived during that time, so what she writes is how things were, rather than someone’s perception of how things were. Georgette Heyer is also hailed as the "Queen of Regency" because of her uniquely believable voice. I've heard she wrote her books using the same terms and speech as her grandmother (who was born just after that time) used which is how she so easily achieved that voice. I also read a bunch of research books. And I joined an online writer's group called the Beau Monde which is for authors of the Georgian/Regency Era. The members are a plethora of information and can sometimes just answer questions, other times they can recommend sources for what members need.

In addition to the Beau Monde RWA group, some of the best sources for that era are:

The Regency Companion, by Sharon Laudermilk and Teresa L Hamlin
Georgette Heyer's Regency World, by Jennifer Kloester
Dee Hendrickson's Regency Reference Book (now on CD)
Our Tempestuous Day: A History of Regency England, by Carolly Erickson
The Prince of Pleasure and His Regency, by J.B. Priestly

I love Regency because of all this and more. Mostly, I love it because of the men. Or at least, my perception of the men. They were all about honor and duty. They were so wrapped up in honor that they were willing to die for it. And that is a character trait I find immensely attractive.

Donna Hatch is the Author is "The Stranger She Married" and "Troubled Hearts," both available on, The Wild Rose Press, and her website,


Skhye said...

Hi, Donna! I thought I'd leave you a few references from the ANTHROPOLOGY THROUGH LITERATURE course I took in grad school. We looked at the evolution of the novel and the development of individualism with a few books you might find fascinating.


THE FAMILY, SEX, AND MARRIAGE IN ENGLAND 1500-1800 by Lawrence Stone

I highly recommend both given you want to play up metacommunication or are looking for a new way to handle the problem everyone else deals with the same way. Like marriage.

I agree on the white wigs. UGH. ;) Have a great week!

Donna Hatch said...

Thanks for stopping by, Skhye and thanks for the references. I'll check them out.