Saturday, August 09, 2008
The House Party
As my latest book is called The House Party I thought it appropriate to talk about the reality as opposed to my fictional event.
The Regency was a remarkable era that witnessed both the birth of celebrity and the advance of science; the grand tour and Frankenstein; the time of duels and dandies and the cult of Lord Byron. All this has been perfectly captured in the genius of Jane Austen.
A House Party in Regency times was a little like Big Brother today. Although each house guest's status might be different, there would be the aristocrats, society's finest as well as the young lady whose fortune comes from trade and the paid companion. Their target will be the same: to court the opposite sex according to the prevailing social etiquette. They were there to win the best partner they could.
In reality shows there will be the celebrities as well as the nonentities, but they will all be there for the same purpose - to win; sometimes fame, sometimes money, occasionally a partner.
Women,in the Regency, for example, were always chaperoned and a man could never address a woman by her first name until they were engaged. The mildest social offence could even result in your being asked to leave the house. If you were a rich heiress whose fortune came from trade, you might well take a titled chaperone to smooth your entry into society and hope that you would be accepted for your personal accomplishments, such as playing the piano forte, your natural beauty and money. Perhaps these might stop too many whisperings about your lack of rank.
The House Party is out now -9780709085362- Robert Hale.