Here are some answers to questions I get asked every once in a while.
What is the Regency?
The Regency era is a period of time in the so-called Romantic age and comprises, strictly speaking, the years 1811 to 1820. It is a link between the opulent Baroque age and the restraint of the Victorian period. With regard to changes in British politics and culture, the Regency is also often defined as the period from 1795 to 1837.
What is so fascinating about the Regency?
The Regency is a time of change. I am interested in these questions:
- What drives these changes?
- What do they lead to?
- What makes the people of the Regency era behave in the way they do?
I am going to write some of the posts in my blog about these questions. Please come back and check the posts under the category Making a New World.
Are you a royalist?
No, I am a democrat and believe in equal rights for everybody. I would not want to live in the Regency era and would not have recommended it – especially not to women. However: The Romantic era and the Regency may have been deficient from a political point of view, but it was when our modern world began. Think about the industrial development, the changes in the political system, the developments towards modern society and in human rights. That’s what I find intriguing.
Is there a historic person of the Regency you admire?
I am impressed by many historic persons, though most of them were probably not very amiable.
Beau Brummell: We all do love him for his style and wit. Rosmary Stevens turned him into a delightful investigator in her Beau Brummell Mysteries. But after reading Ian Kelly’s entertaining biography about him, I am sure the real Mr Brummell was a rather unpleasant man. Still, I would happily add him to the supporting roles of any Regency story.
The Duke of Wellington: This national hero was a ghastly conservative chap, strict, intimidating and rakish. But what a splendid character he is for a novel with all his flaws and eccentricities – and his achievements.
One of the really admirable persons of the Regency is Thomas Clarkson. He was one of the dedicated persons who worked for the abolition of the slave trade. Today, William Wilberforce gets most of the praise for the abolitionists’ works, but read Ellen Gibson Wilson’s biography on Mr Clarkson to find out how hard he worked and how pragmatic he always was.
Not to forget Thomas William Coke of Holkham Hall in Norfolk. He was not only an agricultural reformer and Whig politician, but also charming, kind and very handsome. But, mind you, I haven’t finished Susanna Wade Martins’ biography on him yet. There still might be skeletons in his closet.
How important is research for writing a Regency novel?
Research is immensely important. You cannot have a historical novel without a thoroughly researched historical background.
In her introduction to The Mysteries of Udolpho (Oxford World’s Classics 1998), Terry Castle wrote very forgivingly about the “anachronisms” of Ann Radcliffe. According to Terry Castle, they “can be explained” by Ann Radcliffe’s “never having visited Venice”. Today’s writers of historical novels should not count on such forbearance by their readers. We have a lot more sources available than Ann Radcliffe had, and readers expect a high degree of accuracy.
Research is not just a chore waiting to be done. A good knowledge of the historical background helps to straighten the plot, gives credibility to its characters and brings the story to life.
And: Research is an infinite source of fun and entertainment. Need an excuse for spending hours in a book shop or travelling to obscure places? Write a historical novel!
No, history textbooks are not boring. Just pick those that are entertaining and, if possible, humorous. Reading Beau Brummel – The Ultimate Dandy by Ian Kelly or The Whig World by Leslie Mitchell is real fun.
Find out more about traditional and unconventional methods of research in the related posts I am going to write soon.
Who is your favourite author?
Georgette Heyer. I own all of her Regency novels. Of my favourite ones I have editions in several languages. Yes, Jane Austen is, admittedly, the more sophisticated author, but Georgette Heyer is funnier. Her novels are a perfect mixture of historical knowledge, romance and – most important to me – humour!
When it comes to non-Regency novels, I adore J. K. Rowling. I was addicted to Harry Potter for ten years. In the crime section: I like the French authoress Fred Vargas and the American Martha Grimes, especially her Inspector Richard Jury series.
Why is your blog written in English?
I write it in English, so it is accessible for fans of the Regency era and of Georgette Heyer’s novels from all over the world. Though English it not my native language, it is the language that allows us to share our ideas. Please point out any grammatical and other errors.
The draft of my novel, by the way, is in German. I am planning to have it translated and publish it in both English and German.