Regency romance


Regency romances are a subgenre of
romance novel A romance novel or romantic novel generally refers to a type of genre fiction Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is a term used in the book-trade for fictional works written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary gen ...
s set during the period of the
British Regency The Regency in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state that existed between 1801 and 1922. It was established by the Acts of Union 1800, which merged the kingd ...
(1811–1820) or early 19th century. Rather than simply being versions of contemporary romance stories transported to a historical setting, Regency romances are a distinct
genre Genre () is any form or type of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area aro ...
with their own
plot Plot or Plotting may refer to: Art, media and entertainment * Plot (narrative), the story of a piece of fiction Music * The Plot (album), ''The Plot'' (album), a 1976 album by jazz trumpeter Enrico Rava * The Plot (band), a band formed in 2003 O ...
and stylistic conventions. These derive not so much from the 19th-century contemporary works of
Jane Austen Jane Austen (; 16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen's plots ofte ...

Jane Austen
, but rather from
Georgette Heyer Georgette Heyer (; 16 August 1902 – 4 July 1974) was an English novelist and short-story writer, in both the regency romance 300px, ''On the Threshold'', Edmund Leighton Regency romances are a subgenre of romance novels set during the period ...
, who wrote over two dozen novels set in the Regency starting in 1935 until her death in 1974, and from the fiction genre known as the
novel of manners A novel of manners is work of fiction that re-creates a social world, conveying with finely detailed observation the customs, values, and mores of a highly developed and complex society. The conventions of the society dominate the story, and charac ...
. In particular, the more traditional Regencies feature a great deal of intelligent, fast-paced dialogue between the protagonists and very little explicit
sex Sex is either of two divisions, typically male Male (♂) is the sex of an organism that produces the gamete known as sperm. A male gamete can fuse with a larger female gamete, or ovum, in the process of fertilization. A male cannot sexual r ...
or discussion of sex.


Many readers and writers of Regency romance make a distinction between "Traditional Regency Romance" and "Regency Historical". Many authors have started by writing Traditionals and subsequently written Historicals, including
Mary Balogh Mary Balogh (born Mary Jenkins on 24 March 1944) is a Welsh-Canadian novelist writing historical romance, born and raised in Swansea. In 1967, she moved to Canada to start a career as a teacher. She married a local coroner and settled in Kiplin ...
, Jo Beverley, Loretta Chase, and Mary Jo Putney.

Traditional Regency romance

The distinction rests on the genre definition of Regency Romance: works in the tradition of Georgette Heyer, with an emphasis on the primary romance plot, are considered traditional. Traditional Regency Romance writers usually pay close attention to historical detail, as their readers are notorious for noting errors, and the writers often do extensive research so they can clearly understand and replicate the voice of the genre. After Heyer's novels became popular in the United States in the 1960s, many publishers began publishing other Regency-set books by new authors, including Clare Darcy and Elizabeth Mansfield. Signet, Dell, and Fawcett were among those publishing Traditional Regencies in paperback; the latter eventually began a special imprint, Fawcett Coventry, which published Regencies and romances from other historical periods.

Regency Historical romance

The Regency-set books written by authors such as Christina Dodd, Eloisa James, and Amanda Quick are generally considered to be Regency Historical works. Regency romances which may include more social realism, or, conversely, anachronistically modern characterization, might be classed by some as "Regency Historical", signifying that their general setting is in Regency era, Regency England, but the plot, characterization, or prose style of the work extends beyond the genre formula of the Regency romances published by Heyer and her successors. Characters may behave according to modern values, rather than Regency values. The sensual Regency historical romance has been made popular in recent years by Mary Balogh, Jo Beverley, Loretta Chase, as well as Lisa Kleypas, Stephanie Laurens, and Julia Quinn. These novels are much more explicit than the "Traditional Regency" works and include many more love scenes.

Common elements

Many Regency romance novels include the following: * References to the ton (le bon ton) * Depictions of social activities common during the season (society), social season such as carriage rides, morning calls, Party#Dinner party, dinner parties, rout#Other uses of the term, routs, Play (theatre), plays, operas, assemblies, Ball (dance party), balls, etc. * References to, or descriptions of, athletic activities engaged in by fashionable young men of the period, including riding, driving, boxing, fencing, hunting, shooting, etc. * Differences of social class * Marriages of convenience: a marriage based on love was rarely an option for most women in the British Regency, as securing a steady and sufficient income was the first consideration for both the woman and her family. * False engagements * Cyprians (sex workers), demireps (women of ill repute), mistress (lover), mistresses and other women employed by rake (character), rakehells and men from the upper classes * Mistaken identity, deliberate or otherwise * Mystery fiction, Mystery or farce elements in the plot

Popularity of the genre

Like other fiction genres and subgenres, Regencies experience cyclic popularity swings. The readership waned during the 1990s with the rise of historical romances (and the switch of many Regency writers to the historical genre). In the early 2000s, both Regencies and other historical romances lost popularity in favor of contemporary settings. The market in the United States was hurt by changes in distributing and retailing romances. The last two major U.S. publishers to produce the shorter "traditional" Regencies regularly were Zebra Regency romances, Zebra and Signet Regency romances, Signet. This ended in 2005, when Zebra Regency romances, Zebra stopped their traditional Regency line, and early 2006, when Signet Regency romances, Signet ended its Regencies. There are some new "traditional" Regencies still published in the United States; some of the few publishers that still do so are Avalon Books, Five Star Books (publishers), Five Star Books, and Cerridwen Press (Cotillion). Previously published Regencies are also available through the second-hand book market, via Belgrave House (publishers), Belgrave House (which publishes out-of-print books), and as e-book reprints. The Regency subgenre changed somewhat during the 1990s and 2000s, when authors began incorporating more sex into their novels, under pressure from a changing reader base. While some long-time readers balked, publishers viewed the inclusion of sex scenes as a means of keeping the subgenre afloat. The goal was to appeal to a new generation of readers while still delivering the witty and clever plotlines loyal readers love. Regency romance authors such as Sandra Heath, Anita Mills, and
Mary Balogh Mary Balogh (born Mary Jenkins on 24 March 1944) is a Welsh-Canadian novelist writing historical romance, born and raised in Swansea. In 1967, she moved to Canada to start a career as a teacher. She married a local coroner and settled in Kiplin ...
were the first to write about sexual relationships between the hero and heroine (or more rarely, between the hero and his mistress). Not all Regency romance novels are frothy period pieces. Such authors as Balogh, Carla Kelly, Sheila Bishop, and Mary Jo Putney all depict the underbelly of Regency society, exploring a variety of social ills in their novels. Some authors feature seriously troubled heroes and heroines, who suffer from post-battle trauma, alcoholism, depression, and the like.Karen Wheless. "A Reader on Regencies" ''All About Romance.''. with responses from readers included.



*Jennifer Kloester, ''Georgette Heyer’s Regency World'' (2011)

External links

The Regency and Post-Regency Period, from ''All About Romance''The Beau Monde Regency Writer's OrganizationGood Ton: A Resource for Regency readers & writers
lists nearly all Regencies published by five houses. Reviews many hard-to-find books.
Regency Reader
{{DEFAULTSORT:Regency Romance Romance novels, * Regency era, Romance