Regency style

Notes for Aspiring Writers of Regency Novels

Sweetbreads are not the Regency equivalent of a prune Danish. See The Joy of Cooking.

Lord Bump, a baron whose first name is Thomas, is not Lord Thomas Bump under any circumstances. Get the titles straight, including courtesy titles. Jane Austen was not Miss Austen. Her elder sister, Cassandra, was Miss Austen. Jane was Miss Jane. A married lady, who called her husband Cuddles in the privacy of their fourposter, addressed him as Mr. Bump (or my lord, as the case might be) in public.

Horses are not furry automobiles. An enormous vocabulary of horse terms—horse types, horse colours, horse ailments, horse behaviour, horse gear (tack), horse-drawn equipages—is enshrined in the OED. But beware. American and British agriculture developed along different lines and used (still use) different vocabularies. You need to be able to distinguish a hawk from a handsaw—or a water meadow from a heath (as far as farming is concerned) or a jennet from a palfrey (horses).

The best training for writing regencies is to memorize the works of Jane Austen, to read her contemporaries—especially novelists and playwrights--and to absorb every memoir and letter collection of the period. But beware Georgette Heyer. She was a wonderful writer of romantic comedy, and her research was excellent, but she invented a number of slang terms for the purpose of trapping her imitators, who are legion. Jane Aiken Hodge, also an excellent writer of regencies, wrote a good biography of Heyer (The Private World of Georgette Heyer). Every aspiring regency writer should read it.

I'll add other wonderful words of wisdom, as they occur to me. Do I need to do this? <g>