WHAT IS REGENCY? By Blair Bancroft
After Signet and Zebra shut down their traditional Regency lines, I
considered scrapping this article, but fortunately trads are showing signs of struggling back to life due to the devotion of authors, readers, small presses, and e-publishers. And, besides, I love the Regency era enough that I’m reluctant to turn my back on the
wit and style of Jane Austen, who started it all, or Georgette Heyer, who began the modern revival of what we call “Regency.”
Interestingly, what most of us love about these primarily squeaky clean peeks into Britain at the time of Napoleonic wars is exactly what killed them—an emphasis on style, language, and customs of the times, as opposed to the high drama and hot sex of many Regency-set Historicals. So below is my original essay on “What is Regency,” with only a minor update here and there. Hopefully, it will still be helpful to authors attempting to understand why writing in the honored tradition of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer is not going to get you a New York publisher in this first decade of the twenty-first century.
*** Having been a Regency buff for more years than I care to remember, it was something of a shock to discover my much beloved genre had become the latest rage in Historical Romance. Will it last, or will it bleed to death from some of the massacres perpetrated by authors who may not even know what the “Regency” is, let alone its style, language, clothing, and customs. Hopefully, I can sort the wheat from the chaff and make some sense out of a time period that tends to explode in some writers’ faces. (And send knowledgeable readers into an apoplexy!)
The Regency is a loose term for early nineteenth century Britain, with most of the action customarily confined to England. [Although when my editor told me she would like to see more varied settings for traditional Regencies, as long as the main characters were English, I promptly set a good portion of The Harem Bride in