Saturday, July 03, 2010
When is a Regency not a Regency?
I must be feeling a little bored today, because I fear this may open a can of worms, but I am going to post it anyway!
My author copies of the large print edition of Wicked Captain, Wayward Wife arrived recently, prior to its publication in August, and looking at the cover gave me pause.
As a writer of historical romantic fiction, I pride myself on getting my history right, yet here I am with a book set in 1783, and the cover boldly carries the banner "Regency". I know that those who argue for total historical accuracy will be appalled, and to them I apologise, but this is business and one has to be pragmatic. (The illustration is not entirely accurate either, but one thing at a time).
George became Regent in 1811 and King in 1820 so technically, the Regency lasted only nine years, but readers will be aware that there are plenty of "Regency" romances that cover a much wider time-scale. The term Regency has become something of a brand, and when readers pick up a Regency Romance they know that what they will find between the covers is a story that is set somewhere between 1750 and the 1830's.
There is an argument for allowing the term "Regency" to span the period from 1795 until 1837 because this was a transition period between the Georgian and Victorian eras. Or perhaps we could stick with the term "Georgian" to cover the whole period, but then what do we do about poor William who came to the throne in 1830? So we could call it the Hanoverian period, but the differences in culture between the early eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are vast.
Maybe the period should be called The Long Regency, the way historians refer to the Long Eighteenth Century, which can run from the Glorious Revolution of 1688 until the Battle of Waterloo.
My head hurts just thinking about all the possibilities.
Does it matter? I am undecided. Part of me would like to be accurate, but this is the entertainment business and as long as the public does not feel it is being misled, should I care?
What do you think? (But please, be nice - no blood-letting!)
Sarah Mallory/Melinda Hammond