Regency Romance Turns 80

An important anniversary for the Regency romance genre will be taking place next year. In 1935, Georgette Heyer published her seventeenth novel, Regency Buck. It was also her first novel set during the English Regency. Therefore, next year, 2015, is the eightieth anniversary of the origin of the Regency romance novel. Prior to the publication of Regency Buck, very few beyond professional historians knew very much about this scant decade of British history. The popularity of Regency Buck changed all of that. Readers loved the setting as much as the story and Heyer would go on to write more than twenty-five novels set during the Regency.

With Heyer’s success to show the way, other authors soon began writing their own Regency romances. It did not take long before that special sub-genre of historical romance was sought after by readers around the world. Many of the early Regencies were light, charming romances which are now classed as "traditionals." But over the course of the past eighty years, though there have been changes in the style and tone of Regency romances, they are still very popular. And, hopefully, they will remain so for another eighty years and more.

To celebrate the eightieth anniversary of the Regency romance, the Beau Monde, the Regency specialty chapter of the Romance Writers of America will be posting a series of articles at their blog about the novels of Georgette Heyer and about Regency romance in general. All those who enjoy Regency romances are welcome to stop by the blog to comment on any of those articles with their own views on Regencies. Some romance readers I know are planning to re-read all of Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances over the course of next year. Do you have any plans to celebrate the Regency romance at 80?

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3 thoughts on “Regency Romance Turns 80

  1. Nobody has ever surpassed Georgette Heyer, in my opinion, though I have to say if I had been around 80 years ago, and read ‘Regency Buck’ I might not have bothered to read any more – and what a tragedy that would have been! It’s one of my least favourite of Heyer’s books along with ‘The Nonesuch’. Judith Worth and Tiffany Wield are both characters I long to slap upside of the head.
    Incidentally, I believe the cover of the first edition was done by the same artist who did many covers for the Baroness Orczy’s ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ series.

    • I must admit that Regency Buck is not one of my top ten Heyer Regencies, but it does not rank at the bottom, either, since it introduced me to both Beau Brummell and Lord Petersham, as well as Brighton. 🙂 I think my least favorite Heyer Regency is Cousin Kate. I read it after I had read several of her Regencies and a couple of Georgians as well. I found it much darker than any of those, which I was not expecting and it was hard going for me. I do like the lighter stories with lots of witty dialog the best.

      Though I agree with you that Tiffany Weild should be slapped hard and often, The Nonesuch has always been my favorite of Heyer’s Regencies. My take is that Tiffany had to be the way she was to highlight Ancilla’s remarkable patience and powers of persuasion. If she had been a docile, biddable young lady, neither we, nor Sir Waldo, would have come to truly appreciate Ancilla’s superiority. Besides, seeing her get hers from Laurie at the end was worth putting up with her selfishness and tantrums. And I find Sir Waldo a hero to die for, since he was so kind to Charlotte when she expressed her fear of horses. Though he himself was a top-of-the-trees Corinthian, he did not belittle her for her fear. A true gentleman, to my way of thinking!

      Thanks for the information about Heyer’s first edition cover artist. I did not know that, but find it most appropriate, since I read that Heyer was strongly influenced by Baroness Orczy’s books, particularly when she wrote her first story, The Black Moth, for her brother. That cover artist would have been a good choice for Heyer’s books, since I think her stories would appeal to the same readership as did Orczy’s books.

      Regards,

      Kat

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