Manners. Although the nobility tended to live lives of hedonistic pleasure in the Regency, formal good manners were an inescapable part of the era. If an author has a member of the nobility flout the rules of his/her day without a very good reason, you have a right to wonder about the author’s feel for the period. An uneducated person might flout the rules of manners out of ignorance; a villain might do so deliberately, but, in general, good manners and a code of personal honor were demanded. Unfortunate- ly, then, as today, some people were able to get away with hidden transgressions as long as they maintained a facade of good manners.
What s in a Name? So-called “Traditional Regencies” were first created in the Regency era by the talented pen of Jane Austen, who delighted English society quite anonymously. The opening sentence of Pride and Prejudice is still among the best- known quotes in the English language: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” In the early to mid twentieth century, Ms. Austen’s special style was revived, and added to, by the now-famed Georgette Heyer. Both ladies used magnificent characterizations, dry humor, and knowledge of the foibles of society to create a wonderful picture of the early nineteenth century.
“Regency-set Historicals” are a much more recent creation, a result of Historical Romance’s tendency to move out of the Old West and the Civil War, taking its sexy and swashbuckling plots into the mannered society of the Regency. In my opinion, these novels only work if the author has done her homework. If she understands the manners, clothing, customs, and history of the period before she runs away with the bit, violating the rules.
Publishers. E-publishers and small presses are attempting to pick up the slack left by Signet and Zebra abandoning the trad Regency market. Cerridwen Press has been the most vocal about their interest in traditional Regencies. The market for Regency-set Historicals is still broad, splashing across the entire New York publishing