The Darker Side of the Regency Era


Regency romances are a wonderful glimpse into English high society during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. There’s just something magical about the fancy balls, the ornate gowns and tuxedos, the elegant revelries, the abundant feasts, and the opulent lives of the lords and ladies written about in Regency romances. After all, who wouldn’t want to fall in love with a handsome Duke or bewitching Lady?
But what so many of us never realize is that while the British aristocracy enjoyed their decadence, for the rest of the country, life was hard. And that is a side of the Regency era that rarely gets portrayed in the glitzy, glamorous romances we love to read.

A Time of Greatness?
There is no doubt about it: the Regency is renowned for the fine arts. Prince Regent and soon-to-be George IV was one of the greatest patrons of the arts and architecture, and his reign in the country led to what has been dubbed a “mini-Renaissance,” with a culture and elegance that has been brought to life in countless pages of Regency-era fiction.
The Regency was highly influential in shaping the structure of British society as a whole, forever altering the country’s political and societal course.
However, there was a “dark side” to the society. As one English poet put it, “The squalor that existed beneath the glamour and gloss of Regency society provided sharp contrast to the Prince Regent's social circle.” Life in Regency society was highly stratified: the aristocracy living in wealth, while the rest of the country suffered in poverty.

Read the entire article in the May 2019 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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