Friday, October 26, 2012

The Season

You may recall me telling you about the The Calling Card last week along with my promise to tell you about The Season. Those of you who read romance, particularly historical, will know all about The Season and The Regency period, but for those who don't and might be interested, I shall do my best to enlighten you...

Vauxhall Gardens - courtesy of Wikipedia

The Season coincided with Parliament sitting, which began sometime after Christmas ("the sessions of Parliament cannot be held til the frost is out of the ground and the foxes begin to breed"). However, the height of the season didn't come until March, after the Easter holiday. Then the real fun began, "a dizzying three-month whirlwind of parties, balls, and sporting events." There was always something going on during the season, be it a dinner party, an opera, one of the many 'coming out' balls, the theatre, Vauxhall Gardens (pictured above), riding in Hyde Park, or being presented at court. However, "despite all the surface gaity" the season revolved around "the deadly serious business of marrying off the young girls of the family to eligible and wealthy young men." You can see how the Calling Card comes into play here. For those at the top of the heap it was a way to announce their presence and for those beneath a way to attract the notice of their betters, perhaps gain admission to some posh ball, or maybe a private supper, anything that might improve the chances of a favorable marriage. If a young girl did not get herself married withing a few seasons, "she was considered a failure."

May found everyone - including the masses - attending the Derby, and then Ascot in June, "a much more exclusive horse race altogether." July brought the Henley Regatta as well as a number of cricket contests until suddenly it was August and grouse season, at which point everyone who was anyone deserted London in favor of the country.

Now, you might wonder why I find the Regency period interesting - interesting enough to set my last novel* there. At first glance it seems quite prim and proper with rules and etiquette ("A gentleman never smokes in the presence of ladies.") and proper dress ("A lady does not wear pearls or diamonds in the morning."). But beneath all the glitter was a passion for life that would soon be snuffed out by the Victorian Age and it is that which intrigues me, the pretense of playing by the rules and then meeting your lover in Covent Gardens after dark...

Perhaps next time I'll tell you about the Prince Regent and his many mistresses and the parties they used to throw :)


*GRIMOIRE
** all quotes from WHAT JANE AUSTIN ATE AND CHARLES DICKENS KNEW by Daniel Pool


23 comments:

  1. Very interesting...romantic-like.

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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  2. Isn't awful to be considered a failure cos no-one wants to marry you? Awwwwwwww!!

    Take care
    x

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    1. yes, you didn't get much of a chance back then.

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  3. "the pretense of playing by the rules and then meeting your lover in Covent Gardens after dark"

    Well, there was some of that in the Victorian Age, too, but you'd be shamed forever if caught. And yes, tell us next time about the Prince Regent!

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    1. well, the young girls, of course, couldn't get away with this, but the 'ton' (ie, the wealthy and titled) could get away with a great deal, including multiple affairs, numerous bastards, and behavior that would've shocked their Victorian counterparts, who had to be much more secretive about such things.

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  4. Bummer for the girls who didn't find someone in the first couple years.

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  5. Sounds like they knew how to party. I love Jane Austen novels and reading about the dances and the matchmaking. It was all very formal, but you know people had to be sneaking off to the gardens all the time. ;)

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    1. The rich did indeed no how to party. Some of those balls didn't end until the wee hours of the morning.

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  6. I love the DETAILS of the era. What jewels were ok to wear at what time of day. Mustn't sparkle! It isn't 2pm yet! That stuff always fascinates me. And why I think rich women had ladies maids...so they could keep track of all those details.. :)

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    1. I love the clothing of the era, very feminine, very sexy, but comfortable - unlike the years to come when women would be stuffed into corsets so tight they could barely breathe. No surprise they were always fainting.

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  7. so interesting! what a life! so distinct in their classes!
    and a great setting for many awesome books!

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    1. It is definitely a fun period to place a story.

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  8. That would be exciting! I love Regency too. All the rules were meant to be broken, right?

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    1. I think it's one of my favorite periods, along with medieval.

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  9. A life of oppositions sounds very exciting indeed.

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    1. I think that's a large part of why I like the period.

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  10. I've just lately started reading some Regency novels, and it is truly a different world.

    Yes, please, tell us about the Prince Regent.

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    1. next friday then - the Prince Regent, who was very naughty indeed.

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  11. Having to be married in only a few seasons . . . I'm always struck by the oppressiveness of the era, though it was an interesting time period.

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    1. It was oppressive in many ways but more free than the years before or after, imo.

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  12. A truly marvelous time - for the rich :) Still, all the game playing and match making sounds exciting.

    ......dhole

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