A Regency Novel Writer’s Bookshelf
Must-haves and fun reads – non-fiction books for the dedicated Regency Enthusiast.
I will amend this list (irregularly).
Allen, Louise: Walking Jane Austen’s London; Shire, 2013.
Guidebook with nine walking tours for Regency London.
Adkins, Roy and Lesley: Eavesdropping in Jane Austen’s England; Little, Brown Book Group, 2013.
Very informative and very useful book about everyday life in Georgian England.
Ambrose, Tom: Prinny and His Pals: The Life of George IV; Peter Owen, 2009.
One of the few books speaking up for “Prinny”. Entertaining read.
Bailey, Brian: The Luddite Rebellion; Sutton Publishing Ltd, 1998.
This book is out of print, so when I spotted it in a second-hand bookshop in Winchester on vacation in 2015, I simply had to buy it – baggage overweight upon flying home notwithstanding. The book is about the events leading up to the machine-breaking of the Luddite Rebellion, the progress of the riots and the motivation of the weavers involved.
Baird, Rosemary: Mistress of the House; Phoenix, 2004.
Examines the contribution of women to the country house in 10 biographies from the 17th to the 19th century.
Barreto, Cristina / Lancaster, Martin: Napoleon and the Empire of Fashion: 1795-1815; Skira Editore, 2011.
The book was published for an exhibition on fashion and design. The focus is on the influence of the Napoleonic Era on fashion. Contains some helpful fashion prints.
Beresford Chancellor, Edwin.: The Annals of Almack’s, reprinted by Anglocentria, 2012.
The book was first publish in 1922. It has now become available again as ebook.
Caldwell, George / Cooper, Robert: Rifles at Waterloo; Bertrams 1995.
An account of the 95th Rifles in the Waterloo Campaign in 1815.
Carnegie, Andrew: James Watt; free Kindle Edition, 2001 (first published 1905).
Clarke, Stephen: How the French Won Waterloo – or Think They Did; Century, 2015.
This is popular science (at best), but very, very entertaining. I enjoy Mr Clarke’s books. Make sure to read “1000 Years of Annoying the French”.
Cock-Starkey, Claire (Editor): The Georgian Art of Gambling; The British Library, 2013.
Cordingly, David: Cochrane the Dauntless: The Life and Adventures of Thomas Cochrane, 1775-1860; Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013.
Enormouly good read – as exciting as a novel!
Downing, Sarah Jane: Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen (Shire Library); Shire Publications, 2010.
Frey, James N.: How To Write A Damn Good Novel; St. Martin’s Press, 1987.
Not specifically a book about the Regency, but very helpful for advice on developing a plot and writing novels in general.
Foulkes, Nick: Dancing Into Battle: A Social History of the Battle of Waterloo; Phoenix House, 2007.
Nick Foulkes looked into the social and everyday aspects of the lives of English soldiers and expatriate families in Brussels during the weeks leading up to the battle. You can read my complete review here.
Fullerton, Susannah: A Dance with Jane Austen: How a Novelist and her Characters Went to the Ball; Frances Lincoln Limited, 2012.
Lots of information on balls and dancing at Jane Austen times, told by examples from her books and letters.
Gibson, Susannah: Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?; Oxford University Press, 2015.
Adorable and entertaining account of 18th century life science.
Gibson Wilson, Ellen: Thomas Clarkson: A Biography; William Sessions Limited, 1996.
Very detailed description of his work and the process of banning the slave trade.
Grace, Maria: A Jane Austen Christmas: Regency Christmas Traditions (Jane Austen Regency Life- Book 1); White Soup Press; 2014.
Hague, William: William Wilberforce: The Life of the Great Anti-Slave Trade Campaigner; Harper Perennial, 2008.
Very good work on Wilberforce’s campaign against slavery. Also takes you to horrors of the slave trade.
Hibbert, Christopher (Editor): Captain Gronow: His Reminiscences of Regency and Victorian Life, 1810-60; Kyle Cathie, 1991.
Turn to this book if you are looking for society scandals to add to your story.
Holden, Anthony: The Wit In The Dungeon: The Life of Leigh Hunt; Little, Brown, 2006.
Holmes, Richard: Wellington, The Iron Duke; Harpercollins UK, 2003.
A biography about Arthur Wellesley with a focus on analysing his military exploits.
Holmes, Richard: The Age of Wonder. How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science; Harper Press, 2009.
Hopton, Richard: Pistols At Dawn: A history of dueling; Piatkus, 2008.
A helpful guide to dueling rules and practice through the ages.
Inglis, Lucy: Georgian London: Into the Streets; Penguin, 2013
Kelly, Ian: Beau Brummel – The Ultimate Dandy; Hodder Paperbacks, 2006.
An unbiased and entertaining portrait of the world’s most famous and beloved dandy.
Kelly, Ian: Cooking For Kings, The Life of Antonin Carême, The First Celebrity Chef; Walker & Company, 2003.
Kerr Cameron, David: London’s Pleasures from Restoration to Regency: Two Centuries of Elegance and Indulgence; Sutton Publishing, 2001.
The easy way to become familiar with the most important locations for your novel.
Kloester, Jennifer: Georgette Heyer’s Regency World; Arrow, 2008.
Knight, Roger: Britain Against Napoleon, Penguin Books 2014.
Richly detailed, not always easy, but definitively worth reading.
Lamont-Brown, Davy: Humphry Davy. Life beyond the lamp; The History Press Ltd., 2004.
Low, Donald A.: The Regency Underworld; Sutton Publishing Ltd, 1999.
Mitchell; Leslie: Whig World: 1760-1837; Hambledon Continuum, 2006.
One of the most entertaining books on Whig politics and the Whig way of life; two smiles and one laugh on every two pages.
Murray; Venetia: Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England; Penguin Books Ltd, 2000.
Informative, juicy and rich in detail; but you had better double-check the facts. There are some mistakes in the book.
McCalman, Iain (Editor): An Oxford Companion to the Romantic Age: British Culture, 1776-1832; OUP Oxford, 2001.
The high-end compendium for the scholarly researcher. Great Appendix.
Mokyr, Joel: The Enlightened Economy: Britain and the Industrial Revolution, 1700-1850; Penguin, 2011.
Paget, Julian: Wellington’s Peninsular War; Leo Cooper Ltd., 2005.
This book offers a complete chronological account of the Peninsular War year by year and it takes you to all major battle and battlefield. Very good work for both novices to military strategy and experts.
Pool, Daniel: What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist: the Facts of Daily Life in Nineteenth-Century England; Robinson Publishing, 1998.
The best book on everyday life in the Regency.
Porter, Roy: The Penguin Social History of Britain: English Society in the Eighteenth Century; Penguin, 1990.
Very good introduction to the Eigtheenth Century up to the Regency, well written, easy to read.
Roberts, Andrew: Napoleon and Wellington: The Long Duel, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2010.
An insightful and entertaining study of the two greatest opposing generals of their age. A must-read.
Sekers, David: A Lady of Cotton. Hannah Greg, Mistress of Quarry Bank Mill; The National Trust 2013.
Interesting account of the life of a woman who marries into the cotton empire in the industrial heart of England. The books also pays special attention to the role and life of the Dissenters.
Sullivan, Margaret: Jane Austen Handbook; Quirk Books, 2007.
Tillyard, Stella: Citizen Lord: Edward Fitzgerald, 1763-98; Vintage Books, 1998.
The story of the son of a duke who became a revolutionary. Written in a strongly narrative style.
Treasure, G.R.R.: Who’s Who in Late Hanoverian Britain, 1789-1837; Shepheard-Walwyn (Publishers) Ltd., 1997.
Uglow, Jenny: In These Times, Faber & Faber 2015.
Indispensable book about life in England during the Napoleonic wars.
Vickery, Amanda: Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England; Yale University Press, 2010.
Vogler, Pen: Dinner with Mr Darcy – Recipes inspired by the novels and letters of Jane Austen; CICO Books, 2013.
Got stuck on creating a menu for an event of nearly any kind in your novel? This book provides inspiration and recipes.
Wade Martins, Susanna: Coke of Norfolk (1754-1842): A Biography; Boydell & Brewer Inc., 2010.
Ms Wade Martins is the expert on Holkham Hall’s famous Thomas William Coke.
Wake, Jehanne: Sisters of Fortune: The First American Heiresses to Take England by Storm; Vintage, 2011.
How the American Caton sisters conquers England’s High Society in 1816.
Webb, Henrietta / Ross, Josephine: Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners: Compliments, Charades and Horrible Blunders; Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2009
Williams; Kate: England’s Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton, Arrow, 2007.
Wilkes, Sue: A Visitor’s Guide to Jane Austen’s England; Pen and Sword History, 2014.
Wilkes, Sue: Regency Spies: Secret Histories of Britain’s Rebels and Revolutionaries; Pen and Sword History, 2015.
Wilson, Ben: Decency and Disorder: The Age of Cant 1789-1837; Faber and Faber, 2007.
Shows how the rude and vivacious England of pre-Regency times develops its later Victorian prudery during the Regency era. A book about the hypocrisy of an age, indispensable to understand the mindset of the Regency people.
Wilson, Ben: The Laughter of Triumph: William Hone and the Fight for the Free Press; Faber and Faber, 2006.
Great biography about the forgotten hero of the British press. The Regency era seen from its “radical” side.
Whitfield,Peter: London: A Life in Maps; British Library Publishing Division, 2006.
Very useful tool if you need expert knowledge on the exact layout of historic London.
Wilson, Richard / Mackley, Alan: Creating Paradise: The Building of the English Country House, 1660-1880; Hambledon Continuum, 2006.
Worsley, Lucy: If Walls Could Talk: An intimate history of the home; Faber and Faber, 2012.
Answers all questions about the history of the home, including sanitary equipment and personal hygiene (in case you need to know).
Zamoyski , Adam: Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna; HarperPress, 2012.
I was very happy when I stumbled upon Adam Zamoyski’s “Rites Of Peace”. The author does provide plenty of detailed information on diplomatic aspects, but he tells the story well. You can read my complete review here.