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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Welcome to the Regency



Today we welcome Regency author Linore Rose Burkard. Linore creates Inspirational Romance for the Jane Austen Soul. Her characters take you back in time to experience life and love during the Regency England era (circa 1800 - 1830). Her stories blend Christian faith and romance with well-researched details from the Regency. Take it away Linore.


You may be familiar with Jane Austen, but do you know about the era during which her books were written? Welcome to the Regency--a time unlike any other! Allow me to provide a quick tour to help put this unique period, and my romance novels, into historical perspective.

There are lots of ways to approach the subject of Regency England. But, it will make most sense to start with the Regent—the guy who gave this period its name. Here’s what happened: King George III (1738-1820, left) suffered from a mysterious malady that had twice rendered him incapable of ruling. His was a monarchy that still held power, so when his mysterious ailment surfaced for the third time with devastating severity, the government was destabilized. Without a functioning king, the government had no choice but to put a regency bill before Parliament.

It was late in 1810 when the situation had reached an apex. Rumours abounded that the king had gone mad, and he was, in fact, behaving in ways to support the theory. Medical experts today believe he was likely afflicted with porphyria, which affects the nervous system and can cause mental disturbances, such as depression, paranoia, and hallucinations. The result was that in 1811 the Prince of Wales (1762-1830) (pictured at right) the eldest son of the King, was officially appointed Regent. He headed the government in his father’s place, and thus “The Regency” began.

George Augustus, now Prince Regent, remained as head of state in his father’s place until the old king died, in 1820. Therefore, the years 1811-1820 constitute the “political Regency” or the actual Regency. However, there is more to the concept of the Regency than that.

Like other times in history, this period had its own predominant styles of art, architecture, manners and mores, costume, and literature. But, these trends did not suddenly begin with the passage of the Regency Act; nor did they disappear when the Regent became George IV in 1820.

Therefore, to encompass these trends, we must span a greater time period than the political regency. This greater time period is called the “Stylistic Regency.” The Stylistic Regency is not as cut and dried as the political one, and scholars disagree to the years of its boundaries. Generally, however, it is considered to be from around 1800 - 1830.


For example, the “Empire” style gown (see illustration left) that evokes the era to our minds today, got its name from Napoleon’s Empire which began in 1804 at his coronation. The style was not entirely new, but Empress Josephine’s wearing the design certainly didn’t hurt its subsequent popularity. The high waistline of the empire gown became standard in cities from Europe to America. The Empire waistline, right beneath the bust, remained in fashion for women throughout the regency until it slowly began to descend to a more natural waistline near the end of the 1820s.

The Regency includes other benchmarks, such as the dignified Georgian architecture which slowly took on amalgamations of other styles during the time period. This happened in large part due to the amazingly eclectic tastes of the Prince Regent. His architects (most notably Nash and Holland) included elements from Baroque to Gothic, from Chinese to Indian, for the exotic tastes of the Prince. The Royal Pavilion (see picture, below) is perhaps the most garish example of this mixture in existence today.



However, what seems to characterize the Regency to popular imagination the most is not its architecture, art, or its Regent. Instead, it’s the enduring idea of a vanishing culture that, despite its sins, still appears to us today as a time of elegance and manners.

Thanks to writers such as Jane Austen who lived during this period, most people are familiar with the gentlemanly deportment of well-bred Regency men, the feminine attire, and sheltered lives of its women. Her novels revealed a unique look into romance, manners, principles, and the rules of etiquette that appeal mightily to modern sensibilities.


During this time, people knew their places in society and what was expected of them. We like that neatness. We lack it today. We read books of the upper classes who had servants, spoke prettily, wore fabulous clothing, and we love it. Therefore, even though the Regency was also a world of politics, wars, work houses and the dawn of industrialism, we still think of it in terms of Pride and Prejudice and feel only fondness.

As a Regency romance author, I think of the Regency in possibly its most extended reckoning: from 1780 (the year the Prince of Wales began public life) until his death as George IV, in 1830. It’s a broad reckoning, and not all will agree with me. No one can deny the important role the Regent played, however, in setting the tone for society in many ways.

On another front, the Regency gave us the novels of Walter Scott, the art of William Blake and Lawrence, and the Romantic poets like Keats, Coleridge, Byron, and Wordsworth. In addition, dozens of female romantic poets and writers left their marks, such as Dorothea Hemans and the Taylor sisters.

Culture was changing. Slavery was being challenged, and was finally abolished in Britain due to the efforts of William Wilberforce. There was an ever-increasing middle class segment, as machines and new-fangled inventions appeared on the scene.

The Regency represents the last of the grand eras before factories became pervasive; Before technology precluded the art of handwriting, or the speed of a horse on the road. It was a different era, and a vanished one.

If you and I had lived during this time, we would no doubt have too close a knowledge of the darker sides of things. But, looking back as we do today, especially from the pages of a romance novel, you will find stories of adventure, proper romance, dashing heroes, and feisty, faith-filled heroines. This is the Regency to which I welcome my readers: where timeless lessons still apply to modern life and romantic dreams reminds us that happy endings are possible for everyone!


Ms. Burkard's novels include Before the Seasons Ends, The House in Grosvenor Square , and The Country House Courtship.  With influences like Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, Linore delights in bringing the regency to life for her readers, and, in the tradition of regencies, with manners, morals, romance and humor. Linore's readers experience a romantic age, where England from the past comes alive and happy endings are possible for everyone.

Ms. Burkard was raised in New York, where she graduated magna cum laude from the City University of New York with a Bachelor of Arts in English literature. She lives with her husband and five children in a town full of antique stores and gift shops in southwestern Ohio. Her hobbies include working on four new Regency novels, family movie nights, swimming, and gardening.

The Country House Courtship by Linore Rose Burkard

England, 1818: It has been five years since Ariana Forsythe married The Paragon, Mr. Phillip Mornay. Now, Ariana's sister, Miss Beatrice Forsythe, is seventeen and determined to marry advantageously as well. (Surely Ariana's society connexions all but guarantee Beatrice's success-especially if Mr. Mornay is created a baronet by the Prince Regent.)

But the Mornay's have disappeared from high society as they raise a family at their country estate. Can Beatrice persuade them to chaperone her in London? And what about her business with the curate, Mr. O'Brien, whom Beatrice rashly promised to marry years earlier? She is too sophisticated now to settle for a mere clergyman-despite his agreeable countenance and gentle, understanding ways. When Mr. Tristan Barton becomes tenant of the Manor House, Beatrice's hopes seem to have found their object. But when Ariana falls gravely ill, secrets come to light, motives are revealed, and pretenses that are easy to keep up in the darkness begin to crumble. As hearts are bared and truths uncovered, a country house courtship like no other cannot be far behind!

Fans of Linore's first books, Before the Season Ends, and The House on Grosvenor Square, will be delighted with final addition to the Regency Inspirational Series, as will all readers of historical romance.

Buy at christianbook.com
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To read a review of The Country House Courtship by Dina Sleiman click here
To visit Linore's website click here
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Linore will be stopping by today. Feel free to leave comments and questions for her. I'm sure she'd love to get to know you all. Are you a Jane Austen fan? A Regency lover? Why or why not? Do you have a favorite Regency novel? I'll give my answers later.

18 comments:

  1. Welcome to Inktropolis, Linore,
    I suspect you'll see many familiar names among the Inkies and I'm excited you've brought the Regency to us. Perhaps many people who don't recognize the term can (at least) link it to Jane Austen.

    You have some good news about The Country House Courtship to share today as well. And I want our readers to know they can go to your website and link to a huge resource of Regency facts and fancies.

    Three Cheers for Historical Fiction!

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  2. Thanks for stopping by, Linore! Great introduction to the Regency. What was it about the setting that most appealed to you? Why did you choose this time over, say the Victorian era, for your stories?

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  3. When I first heard the term "Regency" being tossed around on the Hiswriters historical I loop, I had only vague knowledge of it. I googled it, in fact.

    Thanks for sharing what you love about this time period as well as honestly approaching some of it's less savory qualities.

    I have a question. I know the Victorian Era was very sexually oppressive and "ladies" weren't supposed to enjoy intimacy, which caused a plethora of problems. Was this true of Regency Era?

    Dina

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  4. Inkies, if you haven't read Linore's books, you're in for a huge treat! I was SO THRILLED to be an influencer for Before the Season Ends. YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO PUT IT DOWN!!!! (And little birdies chirp that the following novels pack the same punch!!!)

    Sigh. My regency experience is limited to Linore and Jane Austen, as far as I know!!! Can I call it a tie????

    Blessings,
    Patti

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  5. Thank you for the welcome ladies. I already feel very comfortable on this lovely "inky" blog. : )

    Debra, thanks for reminding me: You're right, I do have some good news about THE COUNTRY HOUSE COURTSHIP. The first print run has already sold out, after its release less than two weeks ago! This may not be good for readers as copies may be scarce on the shelves of bookstores right now, but here's a little secret: I still have some available on my website at a discounted price. (Shhhh.)

    Lisa, you asked why I chose the Regency over the Victorian era. There are many reasons, but one being my love for the regencies of Georgette Heyer, as well as Jane Austen's novels. I simply fell in love with the time period, which is magnificently distinct from the Victorian era--and incredibly tiny, as far as historical periods go.

    The "Real" Regency only last nine years, in fact. But what an amazing nine years! Wish I could go into all the details here, but that would be too long for a comment! Good question,though, and thanks for asking.

    Dina asked if the sexual repression that the Victorian era is famous for was also prevalent during the Regency? That's a delicate issue, and there are two ways of answering. You see, on the one hand, upper class society was famous for its loose morals and promiscuity--the rule being that it was okay as long as you didn't flaunt it, and were reasonably discreet.

    The rest of society, however, particularly the "lower" upper class, had a plethora of strict social mores which protected young women, or were designed to. (For instance, a young woman was not supposed to be alone with a gentleman, could scarcely go walking alone, etc.)Whether this amounts to repression is debatable, but it was certainly no secret that a "ruined" woman was likely not to marry well, if at all.

    Wow, what a topic--again I could go on and on about this. Maybe I'll use this topic in an upcoming ezine!

    And Patti--thank you, m'dear! I appreciate your "influencing," and I believe you should be getting a book from my publicist, in fact.

    Thanks again, all, I look forward to more great discussion!

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  6. Hi, Inkies! Hi, Linore!

    I absolutely love a good Regency romance, and Linore's are FABULOUS! Keep up the good work, Linore!

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  7. By the way, if anyone would like to hear my thoughts on Jane Austen novels, you have to go and read my review of Linore's new book. Here is the address, or you can hit the easier "Click here" link on today's post. I'll give you a heads up: mixed feelings.

    http://awesomeinspirationals.blogspot.com/2010/01/country-house-courtship-by-linore-rose.html

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  8. Also, Linore, congrats on the book sales. That's a big answer to prayer, I'm sure.

    Can I give a shout out to Regencies in general? If you ladies like them, AFTER you read Linore's, you should also try Julie Klassen and Ruth Axtel Morren. Go HEWN!!!

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  9. Interesting info! Thanks also for the book review. Sounds good:)

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  10. Thanks Melanie, and Dina, yes, I'm glad you gave your review link. I'm sure many people share your hesitation about Jane Austen. If you saw my last newsletter, it included a few quotes from a certain curmudgeonly detractor (Mark Twain) who, despite his protests, read Austen's works numerous times!
    Anyhoo.....
    I do think CBA readers are becoming more aware of the regency as a genre for great romance, so let's pray this keeps up!

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  11. Linore, thank you so much for visiting today and sharing with us. Congratulations on your excellent news! That's wonderful!

    Most of my own writing is set during the Regency. In high school, I discovered Georgette Heyer and the Signet line of Regency-set romances, many of which (but not all) were sweet and squeaky clean. It's a delight to read inspirational Regency romance, and Linore's novels are wonderful.

    I find the Prince Regent to be a fascinating person, but like Jane Austen, I don't think I would have cared much for him or his extravagant lifestyle. My understanding is that she dedicated Emma to him at his request, not out of a sense of fondness.

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  12. Good summary of the Regency, Linore. I've seen some publishers consider the Regency back as far as the French Revolution, since the Greecian style gowns were introduced--and made popular by Josephine even then, as she was a famous hostess--in the 1790s. The changes in the world were definitely on a fast-track by then. Thoughts on this? I think it is stretching it a bit to go before the true Napoleonic Empire and call it a Regency.

    In the realm of spiritualism, this was a time of spiritual renewal. Evangelicals peopled the Church of England and Methodism had firmly taken hold, esp. in the West Country. The Regency is a transition time between the excesses of debauchery of the eighteenth century, and the straight-laced to the point of hypocracy of the Victorians. An editor in the CBA told me years ago that the CBA didn't like Regencies because it was before the Great Awakening. Sigh. It was actually after. Glad the light is shining through at last.

    Laurie Alice, who shamelessly advertises that she has a Regency coming out with Baker/Revell in 2011. Definitely more Heyer or even Patricia Veryan than Jane Austen.

    Veryan is a fabulous Georgian/Regency author, whose books are clean and full of romantic adventure.

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  13. Hi, Linore! Hi, Laurie!

    This has been a very informative blog post. While I can't say I've been compelled to write a regency, I do love reading them. :-)

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  14. Thanks Linore!

    The Regency was a time where everyone knew their places. Thanks for a glimpse back! Wives that led a shelved life- love the way you said that.

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  15. Hi Linore!
    So glad to see you here. I have to admit right up front that your books are still in my TBR pile, but I will get to them.

    I love the Regency era and I in my own writing of the time I tend to explore darker issues, (like asylums and smallpox, etc.) You love it don't you Deb Marvin? :)

    I think your post of the Regency era today is the best I've ever read, fantastic job! And you're right about the time span of the Regency. I always think of it as 1800-1820ish+.

    I can't remember if Laura Kinsale's book, Flowers from the Storm, was considered Regency, I think it was, but that was a fabulous novel for me and gave me the idea of using an asylum in book because as most of you know I'm an avid mental health fan. :) It's a secular novel and has incredible depth and incredible characters.
    I'll be posting about medicine and medical facts during the Regency tomorrow so I better go write it up. :)

    Congrats on THE COUNTRY HOUSE COURTSHIP print run. How fun is that?
    Hugs!

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  16. I love Regency! In fact, I love the older secular Regencies because generally they are a fairly clean read. I grew up reading those and still try to find them at the library. The newer Regencies are getting more risque, so I am thrilled the Christian market is beginning to publish some!

    Great post, Linore! Your newsletters are always so informative! Thanks for sharing your gift!

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  17. Sorry I couldn't post back sooner to some of you, but I had errands to run and Bible Study tonight!

    OK--Suzanne--thank you first of all for your kind words about my books. As for Jane and the Regent--HE decided he'd like her to dedicate her next book to him and therefore sent her an "invitation" to do so through an agent. She politely and respectfully declined. The Regent's representative replied to her reply, basically being too dense to understand that she wished to pass on the "honour." In the end, she had no choice, really, but to make the dedication, but what a twist of irony! I wish I could have heard the words she had to say about the whole event.

    Laurie Alice, I'm glad you found the time (from your busy writing schedule) to stop by. As to your comments: I can definitely see going as far back as the 1790's, as I often use the date of 1780 myself (the year the Prince--the future regent--reached his 18th birthday and began mixing in society).

    About spiritual renewal: It's true that some degree of fundamentalism had taken firm roots in portions of the lower and middle classes, but as for the upper class, apostasy was more the rule than spirituality. The Prince Regent was an extreme example and leader in hedonism, but much of the uppermost echelons of society had similarly UNreligious leanings.

    Looking forward to your regency, by the way! I love that the genre is expanding in the CBA!

    Hi Gina and Tamika, thanks for stopping by! And Jill, thanks so much for your kind words. This post is actually available as a pdf on my website, if anyone is interested. (Readers' Resources page)I'll be reading your post tomorrow since medical practice during the regency is certainly something I find of interest. It comes up, by the way, in The Country House Courtship, but I'll say no more, not to spoil it for anyone! Good to see you here, Sherrinda, and thank you! Each issue of my ezine takes a bit of work, so I appreciate knowing that readers like you really do enjoy it. : )
    THANKS ALL!

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  18. Hey Linore and all,
    I must have had too long a day. I'm posting on Friday and not tomorrow. But stop in tomorrow anyway. It's sure to be great!

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