The Widow’s Redeemer – Release Date Announced

Madison Street Publishing

MSP is pleased to announce that Philippa Jane Keyworth’s debut novel The Widow’s Redeemer will be available for sale in both paperback and electronic form on December 1, 2012. We are also pleased to give you a sneak peek at the cover art for this delightful Regency romance.

 

THE WIDOW’S REDEEMER

By Philippa Jane Keyworth

A penniless young widow with an indomitable spirit. A wealthy viscount with an unsavory reputation.

London, 1815: After her husband’s untimely death, Letty Burton comes up from the country with her domineering mother-in-law. Hiding a past she wishes to forget and facing an uncertain future, all she wants is to navigate London Society as a silent companion.

A chance meeting with London’s most eligible bachelor sets in motion a series of events that will bring her quiet life under the unfriendly scrutiny of the ton. With the net of scandal, debts, and rivals…

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The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same by Maria Grace

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Maria Grace - Regency Cooking & House Keeping - Philippa Jane Keyworth Blog

Maria Grace

I am pleased to welcome onto my blog this week, author Maria Grace. Maria is quite a lady having two graduate degrees, a husband, six cats and eight writing projects under her belt!

Maria is here to talk about Regency Cooking & House-Keeping so without further ado:

‘There’s an old saying: The more things change, the more they stay the same.  I found that to be very true as I was reading my newest, or should I say oldest, favorite cookbook: New System of Domestic Cookery: Founded up Principles of Economy; and Adapted to the Use of Private Families, by Mrs. Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell (1745-December 16, 1828). ‘Mrs. Rundell’ as it was often referred to, was the most popular English cookbook of the first half of the nineteenth century. The first edition came out in 1806, several later editions were published with additions by other contributors.

Regency Cooking & House Keeping - Maria Grace - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Regency Cooking & House Keeping

At the time few books on domestic management were available. Mrs. Rundell collected tips and recipes for her three daughters from her thirty years’ experience running her household in Bath. Initially she planned to have four copies made but Jane Austen’s publisher got involved and the rest is, as they say, history.

She begins her cookbook with a rather length discussion of the need to manage a household properly. Her first recommendation is that the mistress of a household should be aware of the state of her household’s fortune and be careful to manage with a mind to her budget. How often does that bit of advice appear in ladies’ magazines of today?  Language and style aside, Mrs. Rundell could have been writing for a publication of today.

Regency Cooking & House Keeping - Maria Grace - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Mrs. Rundell laments the effects of increasing prices. “Generally speaking, dinners are far less sumptuous than formerly, when half a dozen dishes were supplied for what one now costs; consequently those whose fortunes are not great, and who wish to make genteel appearance, without extravagance, regulate their table accordingly.” When we bemoan inflation at the grocery store, we are certainly standing in the shadow of our ancestors.

To cope with the effects of increasing prices and limited incomes, our dear mentor recommends careful accounting.  To that end, she insists “few branches of female education are so useful as great readiness at figures.” Long before it was fashionable or popular, our Mrs. Rundell recommended that girls study math! Who would have guessed?

Regency Cooking & House Keeping - Maria Grace - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Not only were her educational recommendations forward thinking, but her practical suggestions were too. She recommends using cash not credit for every day purchases and argues that the use of credit “may have much evil influence on the price of various articles.” Likewise, she cautions ladies to avoid buying unnecessary articles just because they are good bargains. However, they should stock up on paper, soap and candles which keep well and are in constant consumption. Though for my household it would be toilet paper, laundry detergent and notebook filler paper, the advice remains sound.

Regency Cooking & House Keeping - Maria Grace - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

One final point Mrs. Rundell makes left me laughing out loud, not because it was ridiculous, but rather because I had taught the very same advice in the budgeting and money management course my husband and I have taught over the years. She says, “Some people fix on stated sum to be appropriated to each different article and keep the money in separate purses.” Sounds remarkably like setting a budget for each category of spending and then setting aside that amount of money in separate envelopes, doesn’t it? I would never have guessed that bit of advice had been penned at least 200 years ago.

Regency Cooking & House Keeping - Maria Grace - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

It just goes to show that there really is nothing new under the sun!

For anyone interested, replica editions of Mrs. Rundell’s book have been published and the original itself is available free on line: http://digital.lib.msu.edu/projects/cookbooks/html/books/book_03.cfm  or

http://books.google.com/books/about/A_new_system_of_domestic_cookery.html?id=H3UEAAAAYAAJ

I used Mrs. Rundell’s book as a major reference in my newest release, ‘The Future Mrs. Darcy’. Come by my website, AuthorMariaGrace.com to sample a preview of the book, bonus chapters and a new story just for on line visitors.

Author bio:

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful.

She has one husband, two graduate degrees and two black belts, three sons, four undergraduate majors, five nieces, six cats, seven Regency-era fiction projects and notes for eight more writing projects in progress. To round out the list, she cooks for nine in order to accommodate the growing boys and usually makes ten meals at a time so she only cooks twice a month.

She can be contacted at: author.MariaGrace@gmail.com.

You can find her profile on Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorMariaGrace

Or on Amazon.com: amazon.com/author/mariagrace

or visit her website at AuthorMariaGrace.com

If you want them, these are buy links for my two books:

Darcy’s Decision  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006VZOSCO

Darcy's Decision - Maria Grace - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

The Future Mrs. Darcy   http://www.amazon.com/Future-Darcy-Given-Principles-ebook/dp/B008H5UBEU ‘

The Future Mrs. Darcy - Maria Grace - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Join me again to hear more about the Regency, next time from me, and more about my debut novel!

Women’s Regency Fashion & Dress by Regina Jeffers

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I am very pleased to welcome onto my blog author Regina Jeffers. Regina is a resident of North Carolina, USA, a teacher and a Jane Austen enthusiast. This love of the English author has lead her to writing several Jane Austen adaptations and sequels, Regency Romances and contemporary romances, novels include: The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, The Scandal of Lady Eleanor, A Touch of Velvet and Honor and Hope to name a few . Regina’s blog can be read here.

Regina is here today to talk to us about ladies fashion in the early 19th Century – enjoy 🙂

‘The graceful style for women of the early 19th Century is known as the Empire style. Tightly laced corsets were overthrown for the more natural flowing gown. By the end of the 1790s, the Empire cut, which had begun as a chemise shift that was gathered under the breasts, was the accepted form of dress for ladies.

Originally, the bustline was drawn together with a girdle. By 1800, the gown had a very low square neckline, which exposed the woman’s décolleté. The barely-there puff sleeve was pulled back by the short narrow backed bodice, which greatly restricted a woman’s arm movement.

Evening Dress - Women's Regency Fashion & Dress - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Evening Dress 1819

The dress was regularly made of fine white muslin or batiste. Different colored clothing were used for riding, morning calls, and evening suppers. Pale colors were prevalent. It would be rare to find a pattern in the gown. Muslin gathered with less puckering and was the material of choice, but it was difficult to keep clean. Therefore, pastels were used for day gowns. During the winter, heavier cloths, such as velvet or wool or even cotton was used. It was not uncommon for a woman to wear flannel petticoats during the colder months.

Morning Dress - Women's Regency Fashion & Dress - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Morning Dress 1820

Women no longer wore wigs or powdered their hair; yet, very conservative women still sported a mob cap at home. No respectable woman would leave home without a bonnet. Gloves were always worn outdoors, but they were also required for a lady during a ball or a social call. One removed her gloves for dining. As dresses had no pockets, reticules, a small material bag that closed with a pull string, were worn about one’s wrist. A lady would carry a parasol when riding with her gentleman friend to protect her skin from the sun. Decorative fans were also seen as an important accessory for the well dressed female.

Fan - Women's Regency Fashion & Dress - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

A fan typical used between 1815-1820

Early on in the 1800s, female garments were decorated with Greek symbols and patterns at the hem, around the neckline, or as a trim for the sleeve. More ornate trims were exported from France. The Empress Josephine remained a fashion icon through the early 1800s. Egyptian symbols and marking replaced those of the Greek line. With the onset of the Napoleonic Wars, frogging, braids, and cording were seen on both the male and female form.

By the later years of the Regency Period, the bodice of the dress had more support and gave the female form a broader shoulder line. Flounces and padded rolls were added to the line. Some influences from the Elizabethan and the Tudor periods crept into the trim and pleated forms. By 1820, the Empire line had disappeared, instead taking on a more Gothic line, which lasted until Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne.

Spencer Jacket - Women's Regency Fashion & Dress - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Spencer Jacket

The Spencer was worn both indoors and out. It was made of silk or wool (kerseymere). As an indoor garment, the Spencer was called a canezou. As with the Regency gown, the Spencer knew its share of trimming and decorative touches.

From 1800 to 1810, to keep warm, women wore pelisses over their gowns. It was an empire line coat that reached the woman’s hip or knee. After 1810, the pelisse was longer and heavier, with full sleeves. High- waisted like the Empire gown, the pelisse frequently sported a fur collar for additional warmth. Normally, the pelisse was brown or dark blue.

Pelisse - Women's Regency Fashion & Dress - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

A Pelisse

A woman’s underwear lacked the touches of “Victoria’s Secret.” A chemisette, which was a side opening half blouse, filled in the woman’s bare neckline by day. Because the gowns were so thin, stays were avoided unless the figure demanded it.

Short Stays - Women's Regency Fashion & Dress - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Short Stays 1808

One may remember that the Empire line allowed the woman’s gown to cling to all her curves. That could be a good thing if she were svelte, but not so good if she had a bit of “pudge.”

Short Stays - Women's Regency Fashion & Dress - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Short stays on a lady 1811

For warmth, women resorted to flesh tone pantaloons, which came to their knees. Pantaloons were the first “slimmers.” Some women wore white satin slips over the stays to give the gown a smoother line. Drawers tied around the waist became a staple during the Regency Era, as well as stockings held up by garters.’

So, there you have it- A wonderfully compact guide to women’s fashion and dress in the Regency. Thank you to Regina for writing this post for me and in the future as I research women’s Regency fashion & dress more I will definitely be expanding on this most interesting topic!

Aristocracy in the Regency

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Who were the aristocracy?

We hear a lot about Dukes, Earls, Viscounts etc in Regency Romances and even in the classics don’t we? This prolific use of aristocrats within the Regency genre can lead to a romanticised view of the aristocracy. With so many books crammed full of Dukes, Earls and Marquesses it’s easy to think they were all over the place back then.

Duke of Clarence - Aristocracy in the Regency - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Duke of Clarence

Just as a fun little game, let me ask you, how many Dukes do you know right now this instant? (If you know one, then, seeing as we’re best friends and all that, do go ahead and introduce me the next time I’m around 😉 ) But being serious – how many members of the aristocracy do you mingle with on a daily basis?

If you are anything like me, that number will be approximately zero. I guess modern day has a lot in common with the Regency in that respect because if truth be told be told, the aristocrats did not make up most of Society, not even a large margin.

To fully understand the aristocracy, you have to go back to the beginning, right to when the aristocracy was first starting to be formed in England in the seventh century. It had already been created in some form by the ancient Greeks and Romans but it was not until the Germanic peoples invaded Britain that the idea of aristocracy too invaded our shores (though then it wasn’t called that of course).

Feudalism - Aristocracy in the Regency - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Feudalism began the structure which would lead on to the Aristocracy – Photo by Philip Halling

The Saxons brought, along with their physical presence, their structure of life. Fading were the days of the farmer colonists and here were the Kings who would claim a divine right to rule. These Kings rose up and with them came their supporters who gradually created a new society based on feudalism (the practice of men owning large amounts of land with serfs to farm for them). Yes, an aristocracy was forming and that tier of society owed all it had to the King.

Where did the titles come from? They came from uprisings and wars after the Norman invasion. How could a King reward his subjects when they fought loyally for him against usurpers and other foreign invaders? Does a title and land sound about right? Land equalled money and a title lended power and certain rights to its holder.

William the Conquerer - Aristocracy in the Regency - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Writer

William the Conquerer sculpture at Canterbury Cathedral

So, fast forward just under 800 years and who were the aristocrats of the Regency? They were those who had been born into their titles and wealth. True, George was still handing out titles as Sir Arthur Wellesley’s elevation to the Duke of Wellington shows, however, the majority of the aristocracy had inherited their titles. With this in mind, it makes you realise that the aristocracy was not exactly going to have a growth spurt any time soon. The aristocracy would be kept to the few and the middle-class and lower classes to the many.

If you want to put a number on it, which I always like doing, there were 200 or so families with their heads holding an aristocratic title in the Regency. That’s 200 within millions.

 

It really makes you start to think about the use of aristocrats in novels (I’m talking about our beloved fictional ones).

Titles were avidly fought over in the marital mart because there simply weren’t enough to go around to everyone who wanted to gain one. Even more important was the fact that not all aristocrats during the Prince’s Regency were single, rich and between 25-30. Neither were they all rakes looking to be reformed.

Earl of Pembroke - Aristocracy in the Regency - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

George Herbert 11th Earl of Pembroke (1756-1827)

Although I love a story about a lovely, normal woman marrying a handsome and rich aristocrat I also like some realism in what I read or write. It makes me think about how I use aristocrats in my novels.

Do I really want to be writing today’s equivalent of, ‘Millionaire playboy falls in love with good-natured, normal woman.’ ?

Well, no because I don’t really write contemporary fiction, but it’s a very difficult decision to give up my aristocratic heros for the likes of a mere, ‘Mr’. Then again, was not Mr. Darcy just that? He was wealthy, handsome and powerful though he bore no title and I expect their were many like him.

This is all worth pondering over as I consider new story lines and something for the discerning reader to consider when they have dark and broody Dukes, Earls, Viscounts and Barons coming out their ears!

This aristocracy lark is definitely something I want to research more so bear with me while I learn 🙂

My Bonnie Light Horseman… A ‘lite’ look at British Cavalry – Jonathan Hopkins

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Haloo All!

I am pleased to be introducing onto my blog this week, Jonathan Hopkins, a 19th Century cavalry expert and author of the Cavalry Tales series.

This week, right here, right now, as a very apt follow-on from Bennett’s previous blog on the Napoleonic Wars, Jonathan delves, rather humorously, into the lives of real Dragoons and their not so genteel Officers:

‘Ah…the cavalryman – a favourite Regency hero. What could a lady possibly find more romantic than being swept off her feet by a flamboyantly dressed and daring young officer of hussars on his prancing steed?

18th Hussars 1815 - Jonathan Hopkins - 19th Century Cavalry

18th Hussars 1815

Unless he was broke, and not even a gentleman.  As ever, in reality things were often not all they seemed.

The Arme Blanche

Most fictional cavalrymen are, or were, officers. After all, a lady needed to maintain a certain standard of living so it was no use becoming romantically involved with a private soldier. And since officers had to purchase their commissions, provide their own uniforms, horses and equipment, all on a level of pay which hardly covered daily subsistence, (a lieutenant received only £164 5s 0d a year before deductions and income tax) most needed private means of some sort: family money.

So it’s somewhat surprising to find in real life the majority of officers were not members of the aristocracy at all but sons of wealthy farmers or industrialists, doctors and lawyers, even clergy – the moneyed middle class – who could afford to subsidise their offspring’s careers. They weren’t real gentlemen.

Uniforms alone could be prohibitively expensive. At a time when clothing mirrored status wealthy Light Cavalry colonels in particular were fond of trying to outdo each other in matters of quality and intricacy of design (that well known profligate and dandy HRH The Prince of Wales was colonel of the 10th Hussars, for example). These beautiful silver or gold-braided creations looked magnificent at balls or around Town but were not exactly practical wear on a battlefield.

7th Light Dragoons - Jonathan Hopkins - 19th Century Cavalry

7th Light Dragoons

Fortunately for rank and file cavalrymen, their uniforms were supplied by the colonel (who claimed an allowance from government) and while less decorative than officers’ garments were still grand enough to turn many a young woman’s head.

Unlike conscripted forces in the rest of Europe, joining the British army as a ‘dragoon’ was completely voluntary. Being used to dealing with horses ‘strong farm boys’ were preferred recruits, though with the Industrial Revolution underway many a disenchanted factory or office worker joined up.

That the glamorous cavalry was a far more popular choice than the infantry is proven by the fact it cost less to recruit a dragoon (£16 11s) than an infantry private (£19 19s). But if a newcomer believed life on horseback would be far easier than for his foot-slogging cousin, his hopes were very soon dashed. For while an officer might employ a groom or servant to look after his mount (if he could afford the extra expense), a private dragoon did all grooming, feeding, mucking out and cleaning tack himself.

Training? Oh yes, old man – you mean CHARGING practice!

Ownership of horses was the preserve of the wealthy so newly-commissioned officers were expected to both ride well and be familiar with sword and pistol, these latter arts usually studied as part of a gentleman’s formal education.

For the rank and file there were riding and fencing masters, often long-serving NCOs. Recruits were taught to ride in a style laid down in the regimental bible or ‘Standing Orders’ so standards varied  Once a recruit handled his mount with a degree of competence, sword and pistol exercises could be taught on horseback instead of practiced on foot.

Training Cavalry Recruits - Jonathan Hopkins - 19th Century Cavalry

Training Cavalry Recruits

Officers were expected to know and be able to carry out a set of parade-ground manoeuvres, including the much-overused ‘Charge!’, via shouted commands or trumpet calls. But since many rarely attended training sessions they relied on their sergeants to give the correct orders. One commander, drilling his troops on a beach, wheeled them into the sea to the point where a dragoon and horse almost drowned because he had no idea how to manoeuvre them back out again.

All the ladies love a dragoon…maybe

Unless the country was at war troops at home were unpopular, mainly because the government used them to quell civil disturbances. This was particularly true of cavalry regiments which could reach troublespots much faster than men on foot. Increasing urbanisation meant fewer members of the public had direct involvement with animals and being looked down on from horseback fuelled resentment based on very ancient prejudices, a situation which, as riders know, survives to this day.

Wartime was different. All soldiers were the salt of the earth and welcomed just about anywhere, especially dragoons. Somehow their twin reputations of gentility and always being officered by gentlemen were never really dented by facts.

And for a lady who discovered her beau was not quite as she first imagined, there was always the chance he might not return from the wars. The memory of a hero’s death (even if it was more likely to have been from disease than enemy action) was probably better than a lifetime of penury.

‘He was my Bonnie Light Horseman,

In the wars he was slain’

Jonathan Hopkins - Cavalry Dress - 19th Century CavalryYou can visit Jonathan Hopkins website Cavalry Tales and have a gander at his works in progress including: LeopardKill and Dog Watch. His book, Walls of Jericho is out now to buy in both Kindle Format and Paperback.

You can also keep up to date with his research and musings at his blog Cavalry Tales Blog.

Introducing the War of Wars – M.M. Bennetts

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I am most spectacularly delighted to welcome onto my blog my very good friend M.M. Bennetts. She is a renowned historian, specialising in the Napoleonic Era, a brilliant writer with two books out, May 1812 & Of Honest Fame, and a truly intriguing person.

Here I end my inane chatter and to follow on my Regency series, Bennetts is going to enlighten us all with her knowledge of the Napoleonic War:

‘Where shall I start?

Oh, I know…

Righto.  What happened in 1789 that changed the course of world history?  Yes, that’s right, Jane Austen had her fourteenth birthday–though what kind of cakey she had or if she had cakey, I can’t tell you.

However, there was something else, which involved a few more people and was possibly–I know it’s hard to credit–even more important than that.  It was the beginning of the French Revolution.

Louis XVI - Napoleonic War - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Louis XVI

Now before I go any further, let me just say that the coming of the French Revolution was no surprise to observers of the age.  France had been bankrupt for some time, the political machine addicted to privilege, the various classes entrenched in their opposition to change, the general population impoverished, the crime rate staggering, the roads impassable, the harvests meagre, inflation was soaring and the king and queen, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, alienated from everyone.

The question hadn’t been if there would be a seismic change, the questions were when and how and what?  But no one  in their wildest nightmares imagined what was to come.

Within a few months, the summer stand-off between king and people and various political factions had devolved into an elitest power struggle, the Third Estate (everyone besides the aristocracy and clergy) were in the ascendancy, and the country was fast sliding past civil disobedience into fierce sectarian violence.  By the summer of 1791, King Louis XVI was a prisoner and counter-revolution was sweeping the countryside, in its wake bloody suppression in which thousands were killed.

In Paris, the revolutionaries were relentless and mesmerising in their determination to take their ideology of republican fervour to all the crowned heads in Europe.  On 20th April 1792, France declared war on Austria.

Prussia joined Austria on the battlefield against this new Republican France; and the pitiless wars that would consume the Continent began as France rolled out her vast conscript armies, which over the next 23 years would unleash a torrent of ruthless destruction, pillage, economic strangulation and savage invasion, reaching from the Atlantic shores of Portugal in the west to Egypt and the Acre in the south, and the heart of Russia in the east.  It was the first total war.

In Paris, where paranoia and mob-rule dominated, some 4000-6000 people fell victim over just four days to the vicious slaughter of the September Massacres.

The rest of Europe looked on in speechless horror.

Louis XVI - Napoleonic War - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Louis XVI

Louis XVI was eventually tried and found guilty of treason.  He was executed by guillotine on 21st January 1793.  By late that spring, the vainglorious and perhaps pot-valiant rulers of France had declared war on virtually every country in Europe–however woefully unprepared for such a situation they were.

However, failing to succeed with fervour and without much else on the battlefield, with France itself in a state of roiling revolution, counter-revolution and economic disaster, the ‘war party’ of the Brissotins fell, leaving the Committee of Public Safety–a 12 man governing body which included the lawyer, Maximilien Robespierre, Louis de St. Just, and later the painter Jacques-Louis David–in charge of what would soon be known as the Reign of Terror.

Louis XVI’s wife, the hated Austrian princess Marie Antoinette, was beheaded on 16 October 1793.  But she and Louis were hardly alone.  Over the next two years, nearly 40,000 men, women and children would be executed in Paris and throughout France, their deaths ordered by this group of men who believed in the ‘complete destruction of everything that is opposed to the committee.’

Nor were they all or even mostly aristocrats who climbed the scaffold to the guillotine.  Only 17% of the victims of this genocide were of aristocratic birth.  The others were predominantly made up of the clergy–prayer had been outlawed as anti-revolutionary and the clergy turned out into the streets–and members of the Third Estate…

Robespierre Executed - Napoleonic War - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Robespierre Executed

But these most fanatical leaders of the Revolution soon themselves fell foul of public mood which had begun to swing away from their devastating devotion to bloodshed.  On 28 July 1794, Robespierre himself, along with others of the committee, was guillotined.

Meanwhile, a young Corsican artillery officer had been dispatched to serve in the siege by the British of Toulon in September 1793.  He was energetic, determined, and even wildly fearless in the face of overwhelming odds.  His name was Napoleon Buonaparte, and for his part in the successful action in Toulon, he was made a brigadier, and France, longing for a victory after so many losses against the better equipped, better-fed, better-led armies ranged against her, rejoiced.

1794 saw the French armies getting walloped on all fronts.  1795 saw a new executive government for France, this time a Directory.  But not everyone was thrilled with the turn of events and on 3 October, Paris erupted (yet again) in a revolt which was soon put down by the Directory’s defenders near the Tuileries palace.

Napoleon Mounted - Napoleonic War - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Napoleon Mounted Crossing The Alps

Among these defenders was Bonaparte, and whatever the true case of the situation, within days the conviction had spread that it was Napoleon Bonaparte who had stilled the insurrection with “a whiff of grapeshot”.  He was the hero of the hour, the darling of the Parisian salons.

On 9 March 1796, he married Rose de Beauharnais, whom he renamed Josephine.  Two days later, he departed for Italy to command the French so-called Army of Italy.  And it is really from this point forward that the fate of France, indeed the fate of Europe, merges with the personal fortunes of this opportunist, energetic, glory-seeking Corsican general.

His 1796 conquest of Italy left Europe agog.  Within a few brief months, the independent principalities of Piedmont, Tuscany, Modena and the Papal States had been forced to make peace with him.  His rag-tag army had overrun northern Italy and had defeated a series of Austrian armies.

Elsewhere in Europe, French defeats served only to highlight his brilliance on the battlefield, reinforcing his importance to the Directory.  And the Directory needed good news, for France itself had sunk into a vacuum of political corruption, economic privation and failure, indolence and lawlessness–even as in Italy, Napoleon had transformed the army into a propaganda machine and a power base and was trying his hand at state-making, turfing out the former rulers and creating the Cispadane and Transpadane Republics (which he would subsequently transform into the Cisalpine and Ligurian Republics).

Verona surrendered; Venice was seized.  By the end of the summer, Napoleon had made himself virtual king of northern Italy, and the French plunder of that land was on a scale unsurpassed either before or since, with Napoleon the chief beneficiary.

By December 1797, when he returned to Paris, Napoleon was the national hero.  And this made him dangerous.  Very dangerous indeed.  Hence, when he put forward his new bright idea to the Directory–still a cesspool of corruption and connivance–that he should take an army to Egypt, conquer it and set up a French colony there which could in turn threaten Great Britain’s trade with India, the Directory said, “What a great idea! Off you go then…”

Aboukir Bay - Napoleonic War - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Aboukir Bay

But that didn’t turn out so well, for in the middle of his spate of victories over the ill-prepared, mediaevally-armed Mamelukes, Britain’s Lord Nelson led the Royal Navy to defeat and destroy the French fleet at Aboukir Bay on 1st-2nd August 1798, thus marooning the French army.

Whilst he was away, France sought to spearhead an invasion of Britain, starting with an invasion force of 40,000 men who were to land in Ireland, cause a Republican uprising, and then move on to overthrow the British government.  But fierce weather drove the French troop ships from the coast of Ireland–and the plan was abandoned.

Eventually, his army crippled by disease and casualties sustained at the Battle of Acre, Napoleon abandoned them, fleeing back to France on 24th August 1799, where he proclaimed the whole to have been a rip-roaring success and victory for France.  (No kidding.)  But having got a taste for command and absolute power, his ambitions could not be contained.

With the help of his brother, Lucien, he orchestrated a coup d’etat against the financially incompetent Directory on 9th November, aka 17 Brumaire under the arcane Revolutionary calendar.  Within weeks, a new government, a Consulate of three with Napoleon as First Consul was established.   On 17th February 1800, he took possession of the Tuileries Palace.  He was, by right of the new Constitution, the supreme ruler of France.

What follows for the next fourteen years is an unending history of misery, of conquest, battle, pillage and destruction, as Napoleon and his armies swept aside all barriers that stood in the way of his absolute soon-to-be imperial power and greed.  During this period of the wars, Britain, ruling the waves, would diplomatically construct coalition after coalition of European powers to oppose the Napoleonic military machine–paying out millions in subsidies to Prussia, Russia, Austria, Portugal and Spain.  Yet for a decade, no one but the British–and that at sea–could defeat the seemingly indefatigable French.

And curiously, for the first couple of years of his reign the battlefields were quiet-ish, as Napoleon consolidated his power at home, reconstituting the judiciary, the ministries, the civil code, the education system, the law-book–all to suit himself.

Napoleon Riding - Napoleonic War - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Napoleon Riding

Britain was feeling the pinch too and between 1802-1803, under the terms of a thing called the Peace of Amiens, Europe was at peace.  Sort of.  I say sort of, because Napoleon was merely using the time to refashion the state in his own image, to build and train a conscript army, the size and force of which had never been seen before.  And of course, to arrange for his self-crowning as Emperor.

Britain then remained Napoleonic France’s implacable foe.  Consequently, Napoleon began to amass troops for an invasion, situating this ginormous military camp at Boulogne (on a clear day, it could be seen from across the English Channel).  The Royal Navy kept up a constant patrol, bless them.

France, now allied with Spain, sent forth a fleet to draw them away from the Channel, thus to provide a 24-hour window, during which time, the thousands of troops might be transported across the Channel to being the invasion.  There were two catches to this great plan.  One, the “transportation” consisted of four-foot deep barges, which, in the choppy waters of the Channel capsized almost immediately weight was put on them–the horses swam back to shore, the non-swimming troops weren’t so fortunate.

Trafalgar - Napoleonic War - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Trafalgar

And two, that pesky Lord Nelson again, who led the fleet to victory over the French and Spanish combined fleets on 21st October 1805 at Trafalgar.  France would never again challenge Britain at sea and subsequently, Napoleon’s insatiable lust for conquest would be confined to Continental Europe.

In response, he marched his army at breakneck pace across Europe, roughing up the German principalities through which he travelled, and smashing the allied Austro-Russian armies at the Battle of Austerlitz on 2 December (combined casualties–upwards of 30,000 men).

As a result, the centuries-old Austrian Empire was dramatically reduced and Napoleon set up the Confederation of the Rhine at Austria’s expense in the early months of 1806.

Less than a year later, on 14th October 1806, Napoleon led his troops to victory over the Prussians and Saxons at Jena; at Auerstedt on the same day, another defeat for the Allies, this time the Prussians alone, with over 10,000 Prussian casualties.

The subsequent days became a roll-call of Battles and Allied losses, of French sieges and Allied capitulations, which only concluded at the Battle of Friedland on 14th June 1807 with a costly victory over the Russians.

And all the while, these massive armies were in the field, displacing whole villages, eating everything in sight, pillaging, ripping up fruit trees to feed their cooking fires, creating a veritable sea of refugees who sought safety in the nearest forests where they fell prey to deserters and bandits…

Alexander 1814 - Napoleonic War - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Alexander 1814

The Treaty of Tilsit agreed between Tsar Alexander and Napoleon, on 25th June, temporarily put an end to hostilities, leaving Napoleon free to carve up Europe as he chose.  And he did.

But soon, again, he grew restless, and now greedy for the apparently rich prize of Spain, in September 1807, he sent an army corps to the Spanish border, where they were to demand that Spain allow them to cross their territory in order to subdue Portugal who were allied with Britain.

By the end of November, the Portuguese royal family were being bundled aboard British ships, to seek sanctuary in South America.  Displeased and still greedy, Napoleon launched a full-scale invasion of Spain itself, otherwise known as his first really big mistake.  Certainly it precipitated the most brutal and savage phase of France’s conquest over her European neighbours.

Wellington - Napoleonic War - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Wellington

Britain eventually sent a small force to aid the Spaniards who were rebelling against the French invaders, first under the command of Sir John Moore and upon his death, under the command of Sir Arthur Wellesley.  Wellesley’s subsequent series of small but significant victories over the French were a first sign that France might be defeated in the field.

Napoleon now opted for economic warfare against Britain by launching the Continental System which was designed to deprive Britain of her worldwide export market by closing all European ports to her shipping and goods.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t control the seas–he had no navy–so Britain continued to trade and continued to subsidise European resistance to French rule.  European businesses and ports, however, went bankrupt in their thousands, and privation and shortages of every kind of commodity became commonplace.  (Smuggling boomed though…)

By January 1811, Napoleon (having turned his back on the ‘Spanish Ulcer’) had decided to invade Russia.  For the next year, he concentrated troops in Prussia (now a vassal state to France) until he had a combined Grande Armee of at least 480,000 men.  By the end of June, having ravished Poland, they were crossing the Niemen into Russian territory.

Borodino - Napoleonic War - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Borodino

On 7th September they defeated-ish the Russian army at the Battle of Borodino–which was the most costly battle in terms of human life ever fought at that time.  Though they took Moscow, the French were soon forced to retreat amidst terrible winter conditions which destroyed the remnants of this once great army.

On 4th December, Napoleon abandoned his troops as he had once before.  He reached Paris on 19th December.  (Only some 30,000 of his men were all that was left to struggle home in his wake.)

(Equally, while he had been otherwise occupied on the Eastern front, Wellesley–now Lord Wellington–had been busily driving the French out of Spain…)

Within a day, he had summoned his ministers, calling for a new levy of conscripts…and he was ready to take to the field again by April.  By April too, Prussia and Russia were once again allied against him with Britain as paymaster.  His defeat of the Allies, first at Lutzen and then at Bautzen (Germany), caused some to fear.  But Austria negotiated a truce for the summer months, during which time, Russia and Prussia called up further troops and organised their supply lines.

Austria tried to press Napoleon for peace, but he–as ever the Corsican strongman–refused to negotiate and blew them off.

Leipzig - Napoleonic War - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Leipzig

The Allied powers of Russia, Prussia and Austria took the field against Napoleon’s new Grande Armee and inflicted staggering casualties upon the French forces at the three-day Battle of Leipzig, 16th-18th October 1813.

The disorganised French fled westward, and for the next several months, Napoleon attempted to stave off the advancing Allied invasion of France, but with his supplies, his finances, and his wasted troops exhausted, he ultimately failed.

Thus after the Battle of Paris on 30th March 1814, Tsar Alexander entered the city in triumph.  On 6th April, Napoleon was forced by his generals to abdicate power.

From the southwest, Wellington was invading France as well.

Let joy reign supreme… Napoleon–at the behest of Tsar Alexander–was dispatched to the island of Elba.  Which he didn’t much care for.

A Congress was convened in Vienna  in September of that year, with the brief to rebalance and redistribute power to the various countries.  They were dancing and discussing and negotiating the final settlements when it was announced that Napoleon had escaped from his island prison and was making his way through France, raising a new army…

The Allies, now led by the Duke of Wellington, met Napoleon’s army on 16th-18th June 1815, at a series of battles which we refer to as Waterloo.  Napoleon was defeated.  At a cost of at least 95,000 casualties, drawn from all corners of Europe.

This time, there were to be no mistakes.  Napoleon was sent, aboard a British ship, to the island of St. Helena…where he would die in 1821.  Possibly of stomach cancer.  Possibly he was poisoned…

The Allies resumed their negotiations in Paris and Vienna, though this time they were in no mood to conciliate French demands for anything.  The treasures Napoleon and his troops had looted from the farthest ends of Europe were removed from the Louvre and sent home.  France was restored to its pre-Revolutionary borders.  Italian and German nationalism had been ignited which would eventually lead to the uprisings of the 1840s and 50s.

Over the course of the wars, Britain had paid out more than £65 million in subsidies.  (That’s somewhere between £3.8 billion and £4.6 billion in today’s money.)  More than six million people had lost their lives, hundreds of thousands more were displaced refugees, and it would take until 1890 for the populations of Europe to regain their pre-Revolutionary numbers.

And until 1917, the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars were known simply as the Great War.

Alle Seelen ruhn in Frieden.’

Let’s take a break…

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So, I have started a series on the Regency and being as I’ve posted all of two posts, I think it’s time for a break.

Haha! Yes, I am laughing in a mischieviously cheeky way. The thing is, to be quite frank, I’m tired. If I used profanity on a regular basis I guess I would say I’m ‘something’ tired but, as I am a lady, I shall refrain.

It’s just, it’s been rather a busy summer so far. I have been to the States, gotten published, had my brother’s two weddings, had my anniversary, had my birthday, had my husband’s birthday, been away for the former three things listed and that’s not the end of it.

Oh, no, I am also going away camping twice in the coming weeks, possibly popping off to Cornwall in September before coming back and starting university. Golly, I just got tired, right that instant, when I was writing that. In the words of Miranda’s mother, ‘I am what I like to call, exhausted!’

I am therefore having a break from the usual strenuous blogging and instead looking to have gentle blogging exercise in the form of the above ramble and the below ‘schpeel’ about my recent anniversary/birthday/husband’s birthday weekend away in stratford:

Stratford Upon Avon - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Stratford Upon Avon

Yes, I went to the birthplace of one of the greatest writers of all time. I went to William Shakespeare’s hometown of Stratford-Upon-Avon 🙂 To celebrate not killing each other, and all that, in the last few years, me and my husband thought we’d toddle up to Warwickshire.

The Garrick - Stratford Upon Avon - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

The Garrick – Reputed to be the oldest Inn in Stratford Upon Avon

We went to The Garrick Inn, reputed to be the oldest Inn in Stratford, for dinner and drinks (doesn’t that sound posh? And it gets better later). The Garrick Inn is a timber framed building dating back as early as the 1400s and has a colourful history – It is even said to be where the Black Plague originated but whether that’s true, I’ll let you decide. Let’s just say, after being told that, I was looking for the nearest bottle of hand sanitiser.

RSC Swan Theatre - Stratford Upon Avon - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

The Royal Shakespeare Company Swan Theatre in Stratford Upon Avon

Thankfully, despite the fact I didn’t carry a handful of posies under my nose into the ‘plague’ Inn, I came out, husband in tow, with no boils or coughing.

We then wandered down to the banks of the Avon and went to watch the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Twelfth Night at the Swan Theatre. The play was brilliantly acted and the set was so cool. If you know the play, you’ll know that it starts with a shipwreck from which both a brother and sister scramble to shore. To show this in the production, they had a tank of water at one corner which disappeared under the stage. At the beginning of the play, Viola, swam from back-stage into the tank and burst through the water, scrambling sopping wet onto the stage having scared a woman in the front row half to death – I couldn’t stop giggling.

To top this great weekend off, we were driving back and saw signs to Highclere Castle. I exclaimed, ‘Oh, that’s the place Downton Abbey was filmed!’. It couldn’t be avoided then, with home forgotten we pottered off to Highclere and that was truly beautiful:

Highclere Castle - Downton Abbey - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey was filmed – Photo by Richard Munkton

All in all I found this weekend to be very inspiring for my writing – Though I didn’t even bring my journal with me.

I tell you what, I am not the coolest or discreetest person to hang out with for a weekend. I get excited about very geeky things; like what the red chinese tea-cady from 1809 in one of the rooms at Highclere is; and I also walk around like a goon taking pictures of the back of my husband’s head and chatting to random shop-keepers. Yes, I am glad I married a patient guy…

That’s pretty much it for this week folks – I’ll leave you with the words of a very famous, and my favourite, sonnet by William Shakespeare:

Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds

Admit impediments. Love is not love

Which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:

O no! It is an ever-fixed mark

That looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.

Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks

Within his bending sickle’s compass come:

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,

But bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved,

I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Philippa Jane Keyworth – Regency Romance Author

Fat Prince George : Portrait of a Regent

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Fat Prinny George is one of those memorable monarchs. He may not be on par with King Henry VIII and his many wives, but Georgie Porgie certainly did cause quite as much talk as the much-married King. He was Regent over the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1811-1820 (the Regency) and became King George IV in 1820 ruling until his death in 1830.

Fat Prinny George (IV) :  Portrait of a Regent - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Prince George by Sir Thomas Lawrence

Prince George was and is known as an unpopular Royal. He was born in 1762 to his father King George III and his mother Queen Charlotte. His father is better known for his ‘mad’ episodes which afflicted him from the late 1780s onwards. If one looks at the character rather than the illness of the Regent’s father however, one can see it is in stark contrast to his son’s. King George III was sometimes known for being censorious of others’ failings however, he was also known for his morality, devoutness, hard-work ethic and king heartedness. George the Prince Regent was known for being a womaniser, glutton and drunkard.

Fat Prinny George (IV) : Portrait of a Regent - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Prince George soon to be King George IV

At 17 the Prince Regent had already begun a love-affair with a married actress and went on to marry, in secret, the infamous Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert. The Royal Marriages Act of 1772 declared that King George III and the Privy Council needed to give their approval in order for the Prince to marry, this therefore rendered his secret marriage illegal. (Did you know that there was an underground tunnel linking the Brighton Pavilion, his summer palace, to Mrs. Fitzherbert’s house close-by?)

Maria Fitzherbert - Portrait of a Regent - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

His behaviour made him unpopular. With a stark divide between the affluent and the lower regions of Society, the Prince’s indulgent and immoral ways gained him dislike from the general public. I put it to you that perhaps this dislike was exacerbated by the difference in morality between George III and his dissolute son who began reigning whilst the King still lived.

The hope that the Regent might mend his ways following his marriage to the most appropriate Princess Caroline of Brunswick-Wolfenbuttel in 1795, was unfounded. They lived together for only 1 year out of the 19 they were married and eventually Caroline, after suffering public humiliation for the last time (she had been forbidden to attend the Prince Regent’s coronation among other set-downs), returned to Brunswick.

Queen Caroline - Portrait of a Regent - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Queen Caroline (Prev. Princess Caroline of Brunswick) – She was banned from attending George’s long-awaited coronation!

His immoral ways coupled with his dissolute and spend-thrift lifestyle earned him even greater dislike among his people. After all, how could it be right that the Regent was spending money on lavish parties and redecorating his homes when the people were being taxed heavily for a war against the French?

What put the final spanner in the works of George’s popularity, was the influence his favourites held over him. Also known as the Carlton House Set, these were individuals who were the closest friends of George and included: the Duke of Argyll, Lord Alvanley, Lord Barrymore, Lord Bedford, the notable Beau Brummell, ‘Poodle’ Byng, Colonel the Hon. George Lionel Dawson Damer, the Duke of Devonshire, Lord Foley, Charles James Fox, the Earl of Jersey, Sir John Lade, the Duke of Norfolk, the Duke of Queensberry, the Duke of Rutland, Lord Sefton, Admiral Lord Hugh Seymour and the Duke of York among notable others. These friends along with the Regent himself were known for their wild parties and wreckless ways, garnering disrespect for the sovereign and less trust thanks to the power his friends wielded over him.

Brighton Royal Pavilion - Portrait of a Regent - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Carlton House from whence the name ‘Carlton Set’ was coined.

It almost seems incorrect that such a disliked sovereign could reign over such a loved period of time. Most periods are known either for the notoriety of both their sovereign and events or for the greatness of their sovereign and events. The Regency period however, was dogged by a madness afflicted King and a gluttony afflicted Regent. Was there anything good about Fat Prinny George?

Fat Prinny George (IV) : Portrait of a Regent - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Fat Prinny George (IV) caricature by Cruikshank 1819

I say yes. That is not to say his positive points outweigh his negatives by any means. He was an immoral, greedy, adulterer. He also had no sense of his responsibilities to his people, his wife or his country who were at war and being taxed heavily. He did however, contribute to the culture of Britain as I touched upon in my post about the Regency.

 Napoleonic War - Prince Regent - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

The Napoleonic War was ended in 1815 in the middle of the Regency

After all, was is not the Regent who started the craze for interior design? Is it not him who is responsible for the decor of many of the great houses which still line the fields of England and attract thousands of visitors every year? He brought John Nash to the forefront of architectural design with much of his work still evident today in Regent’s Street, the Royal Pavilion and Buckingham Palace to name a few.

Regent's Street - Portrait of a Regent - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Regent’s Street was one of the many areas redesigned by Nash

The Regent encouraged painters whose work he commissioned, he allowed music to flourish by patronising composers including Haydn. He was the founding member of the Royal Society of Literature, a friend of Sir Walter Scott and a keen reader of Jane Austen. 

In 1823, like many of his peers, the Prince, who by this time was King George IV was suffering from the dissolute ways of his youth which he still partook in. He increasingly kept away from London, years of debauchery having given him dropsy and ruined his physique. Upon visiting him at Windsor the Duke of Wellington declared that there was nothing wrong with the King save the troubles caused by ‘Strong liquors taken too frequently and in too large quantities,’ adding that George, ‘Drinks spirits morning, noon and night.’ With bladder inflammation, the need to take laundanum, perhaps the chance he, like his father suffered from Porphyria, and frequent breathlessness which sometimes left the tips of his finger black, he died at Windsor on 26th June 1830. There was, as was expected, very little mourning for the unloved King with the Times saying, There had never been, ‘An individual less regretted by his fellow creatures that his deceased King.’

It’s all rather sad really, and yes, I know, he had many a fault and probably deserved his inelegant demise, but is it not easy to imagine walking into the opulent rooms of the Royal Pavilion when he had been alive? Your gaze falling upon a portly fellow who sits in a chair with an Austen on the side table, music playing and a bountiful supply of friends about him. You see all of those present are in their cups and chortling along with the good-humoured Prince and maybe you too smile a little.

Fat Prince George is a monarch whom we hate and whom we love and whom we know as ‘The First Gentleman of England’.

Philippa Jane Keyworth – Regency Romance Author

What’s So Special About The Regency Era?

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I have, in point of fact, already blogged about this subject once before. Upon reading aforementioned blog however, I was disappointed with it. I really had not done the era justice and as such (as well as the fact I am a Regency Romance novelist and shall never tire of blogging on the time period), I thought I would redeem myself by writing another post.

Wow, I said that confidently, all I have to say now is *notallguaranteed*.

As some of you may already know, my debut novel, currently known as, The Debtor’s Redeemer, is coming out later this year (exciting!). I want to give you little tasters of what the novel is about and why I wrote it. It is set in the Regency and I thought I’d let you know why 😉

On the 5th of February 1811, Parliament passed the Regency Act under which the Prince of Wales, ‘by reason of severe indisposition with which it hath pleased God to afflict the King’s Most Excellent Majesty,’ took, ‘Full power and authority, in the name and on behalf of His Majesty, and under the stile and title of Regent of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, to exercise and administer the royal power.’

It probably all sounds very boring to you, I know, but bear with! Bear with!

You see the Regency was all brought about because George III suffered from ‘madness’ hence being known as ‘Mad King George’. (Recent medical practitioners have looked at his symptoms and suggested that he suffered from the blood disease Porphyria). He fell in and out of illness and when the Regency was put into place they only validated the Act for a year, thinking the King would recover. He didn’t though and his son, also George, was made permanent Regent in 1812.

In came a time of, what could have been uncertainty but instead was an age which would be remembered for its foreign affairs, its arts, its Society and of course that most famous and corpulent of figures Fat Prinny George!

The Regency was 11 years and in terms of a regency, I suppose it could be considered rather long and drawn out, but in terms of its impact on the heritage of the United Kingdom I feel it was a short time. Yes, it would be a short time in our island’s history that would leave marks both physically and within mindsets for generations.

Now I could go on forever, literally, I am researching it right now, surrounded by books and there is just so much to say on the period. Yet I know, however shocking it may be, that you will all eventually tire of my witty repartee, of my incroyable gift for conveying fascinating historical facts and of my animated chitter-chatter which brings it all alive and dancing before your eyes. I will therefore endeavour to keep it short, sharp and interestingly to the point.

Foreign Affairs

During the Regency Europe met with one of the biggest threats to peace and prosperity it would face: Napoleon Bonapart. Self-proclaimed Emperor of France his dictatorship led millions to their deaths and destroyed landscapes. Up against this most notorious of dictators was Wellington, the brilliant military strategist who dashed old Boney’s hopes. Great Britain was key, along with it’s allies, in bringing an Empire led by a tyrannical dictator, to it’s bloody knees.

Sir Arthur Wellesley - Regency Period - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Sir Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington – rather dashing don’t you think?

The Arts

It was not just this war which made the Regency something to fascinate. It was a time for the arts. People such as Nash were brought forth. He was a man who would become the designer for Regent’s Park, Regent Street and the re-designer of the outlandish Royal Pavilion whilst the Regent became the head of a new craze – Interior Design.

The Regency - The Royal Pavilion - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

The Royal Pavilion in Brighton

The Regency - The Royal Pavilion - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

The Royal Pavilion’s exterior

Sir Walter Scott appeared on the literary scene from the north whilst Jane Austen, from the south, created works which are still enjoyed today for their wit and acute perspective on Society and the peoples who are woven together to create it.

The Regency - Jane Austen - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

One of the first two published illustrations of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

Some of the works of John Constable and Thomas Lawrence were commissioned by the Prince Regent who had a real interest in the arts and patronising those who contributed.

John Constable - Regency Era - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Authors

John Constable painted during the Regency Period

Society & Etiquette

Amazingly, in a time of such war and grief not only did the arts thrive but so did Society. It managed to maintain itself on glittering balls, wonderful assemblies and all manner of salacious gossip. Lady Lade, a woman of ill-repute, would scandalise mother’s and debutantes with her fast ways. Almack’s at almost the opposite end of the Society scale was the most exclusive club in London governed by some of the strictest Dowagers around, so strict in fact that the Waltz, considered a racy dance, was not allowed until 1813 and only if you gained the approval from one of the most proper patronesses.

The Regency - Almack's - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

A drawing of Almack’s Assembly Rooms

Most fascinatingly to me at the moment, the Regency was an age of stepping forward for women. Yes, they still did not have the rights which the suffragettes would fight for almost a 100 years later, but they, for the first time in history, were listened to and even conversed with as equals. I’ll go into that more in an upcoming blog about blue-stockings.

Yes, the Regency may be best known for it’s fat and loathed Prince and the many Regency romances based upon it, but really it was much more.

An age of war, arts, fashion, family, honour and ettiquette can lend itself to story telling magnifique, n’est pas? In a period of time which happened so long ago there are characters in my mind’s eye. Character’s who have their own lives, their own pains, their own loves – I ask you, how can you not love The Regency?

Philippa Jane Keyworth – Regency Romance Author

History Is Boring

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My last post contained the announcement that my Regency Romance, The Debtor’s Redeemer, is getting published and will be available later in 2012! Woop!

So, history is boring. Now, I don’t mean to be mean but whenever someone says that to me I think,

HOW!!!!! Are you insane? Do you not know anything? Have you ever learned any history? Philistine! Heathen!

Then again, if you were inflicted with a tedius teacher, then I am not surprised.

History is Boring - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

What a boring teacher does to you…

If you are one of these people who thinks history is boring I want to challenge you. How can you think of something which contains the following things as boring? :

  1. Murder
  2. Love
  3. Wealth
  4. Incest
  5. Conspiracy
  6. Swords
  7. Guns
  8. Catapults
  9. Horses
  10. Beautiful Women
  11. Handsome Men
  12. Villians
  13. Heros
  14. Heroines
  15. Outlaws
  16. In-laws
  17. Bandits
  18. Thieves
  19. Soldiers
  20. Warriors
  21. Mansions
  22. Palaces
  23. Kings
  24. Queens
  25. Princesses
  26. Princes
  27. Dukes, Duchesses, Earls, Countesses etc
  28. Sex
  29. Military Coups
  30. Usurpation
  31. Innovation
  32. Renaissances
  33. Industrial Revolutions
  34. Social Revolutions
  35. And most of all, ordinary people like you and me who shaped how we live, love and die today.

Does that challenge you? It should. I’m not just talking about sitting down and reading a history textbook from your old school. No, that probably is a little boring 😉 One of my favourite ways to learn about history (and the historians will be tutting at me in a few moments) is by watching movies! My favourite movie it ‘Gladiator’ – Undisputed best film ever made.

History is Boring - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Gladiator is the, undisputed, best film ever…

Better than the broad history topics I listed above however, and what interests me most about history, are those little qwerky stories you find.

For instance, did you know that two princes were murdered and stuffed into a wall cavity in the Tower of London? When they were found no one was sure who they were and it’s still a mystery as to who killed them though some people like to believe it was ‘evil’ King Richard III.

History is Boring - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

The Princes in the Tower

Did you know that the term Eaves-Dropping comes from the time of King Henry VIII (yeah, the one with six wives)? He had little faces carved into the eaves of his banquet hall so that they would look down on the courtiers. The idea was that they would feel like the King was always watching them and it would stop plotting and conspiring…

History is Boring - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

You know you are guilty of doing exactly this…

Did you know that Winston Churchill, one of the greatest leaders of this country, left school with a poor academic record and only made it into the army on his third attempt to pass the entrance exams?

Did you know the shortest war on record was fought between Zanzibar and England in 1896? 38 minutes was all it took for Zanzibar to surrender.

Did you know Beethoven, was told by a music teacher that he had no talent for music. In fact, this teacher once remarked, “As a composer he is hopeless.” WhaaaaaT???

Did you know that Prince George was Regent of England for the 9 years between 1811-1820, known famously as the Regency period? He was also a very unpopular Sovereign due to his dissolute ways and disliked his wife so intensely he forbade her from coming to his coronation!

History is Boring - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Fat Prinny George!

Did you know that Queen Victoria, who is England’s longest reigning monarch and who was ruler of the British Empire when Britain ruled a third of the globe, was so much in love with her husband Prince Albert that when he died she wore widow’s blacks for the remainder of her life and commanded that all railings in London be painted black?

History is Boring - Philippa Jane Keyworth - Regency Romance Author

Queen Victoria

Even better than that, I found out recently that according to one of Queen Victoria’s biographers, Giles St Aubyn, Victoria wrote an average of 2500 words a day during her adult life. She wrote detailed journals spanning from July 1832 until just before her death, and these journals eventually totalled 122 volumes! (I shall try and write that much!)

These are just a few fascinating historical facts and I challenge you to say they are not interesting!

Now, you may understand, if only a little, why I like writing novels set in the past 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this.

Philippa Jane Keyworth – Author