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  • Writer's pictureElsie King

Regency Romance - But what was the regency and was it a romantic time in history?

Updated: Mar 4, 2023

Novelists such as Jane Austin, Georgette Heyer, Mary Balogh, Stephanie Laurens and many others have entertained and captured the hearts of thousands of readers of Regency romance novels. Movies and television adaptions have caught the attention of even more fans of Regency romance.

But what was the Regency era that has made it so popular with lovers of romance?

I will be sharing my own ideas about Regency times, and will focus on the history rather than the idealised fiction starting with a explanation for the named era.

The Regency decade - Prince George, Prince of Wales was made a Prince Regent in 1811. Prince George, or Prinny as he was affectionately known, was the eldest son of King George the third, who suffered with a hereditary disorder called Porphysis. This caused him to experience periods of intense pain, delirium and paralysis. He became quite mad and couldn't rule for the last ten years of his life. An act of parliament appointed his son George to act as the king from 1811 until the Kings death in 1821. It is this period of ten years that historically known as the Regency

The prince regent was regarded as being totally self-indulgent and became obese, had many mistresses and was said to have fathered many illegitimate children. It is believed that he went through with some sort of marriage with Mrs Fitzherbert, a twice widowed lady of the Catholic faith but this marriage was never acceptable under the Royal Marriages Act. He did later marry his cousin, Princess Caroline of Brunswick but they hated each other and separated before she had given birth to their only legitimate child, Princess Charlotte. On the plus side Prinny was very strong patron for the arts and built the magnificent Brighton Pavilion, which can still be explored in that town. He also was a fan of Jane Austin's romances and she was obliged to dedicate her novel Emma to him. But she was not a fan of the prince regent and stated in one letter she actually "hated" him.

So, while the prince regent provided the name for Regency novels, the historical figure was not a dashing hero and was unlikely to have promoted romance.

Please come back for my take on Regency romance and what was actually going on in that period of time that could possibly be romantic.

References: Jane Austen's world-The life and times of England's most popular author

by Maggie Lane 1995 Carlton Books.

© Elsie King 2023

Image © L.C.Wong

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