Regency is NOT Victorian – which is NOT Edwardian!

Santos-Dumont_flight_around_the_Eiffel_TowerSanto Dumont circles the Eiffel Tower on 13 July 1901 in Dirigible No. 5 Paris 1901 airship zeppelin edwardian era.jpg

Paris in 1901 – a time of photography and airships.

All right, I’ve had it. If I see one more book or television show or movie about the Tudors or Marie Antoinette or World War One labelled as a “Regency romance”, I’m going to scream!

Even if you use a slightly extended version of the term “Regency” to describe historical romance books (say, 1800 to 1830), I think it should be made illegal to call stories set a full century before or after the era “Regency romances”.

A popular author’s new historical romance series is allegedly set in the early 1900s, and yet it’s being labelled “Regency” by readers and publishers alike, and fails to include any of the massive changes that happened in the world in those ninety years between one era and the other. I’m seeing this so often in historical fiction that it’s driving me bonkers!

Here’s how it works:

Regency era:

1811-1820

Jane Austen, skinny dresses, Napoleon, and a man too mentally unstable to rule on the British throne.

Mailcoach England 1827

Transport in 1827

First_electric_tram-_Siemens_1881_in_LichterfeldeFirst electric tram- Siemens 1881 in Lichterfelde

Transport in the 1880s

Victorian era:

1837-1901

Trains, photographs, telegrams, telephones, big sleeves and even bigger skirts, Christian morals hiding dirty lifestyles, and a short, (allegedly) grumpy lady on the British throne.

Flatiron_Building_under_construction_II,_New_York_City,_1902Flatiron Building (at the time still called the Fuller Building) in early stage of construction, Fifth Avenue and Broadway, New York City. edwardian era

New York City in 1902

Edwardian era:

1901-1910

Cars, airships, early feature films, and a large, sickly man on the British throne.

Labelling an Edwardian book set nearly a century after Jane Austen died as Regency is like setting a book in 2019 and including the first Academy Awards (with Emil Jannings – born 135 years ago – winning best actor), Stalin’s purges, the birth of Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and the death of Wyatt Earp. Oh, and while we’re at it, we might as well include the Wall Street Crash and the beginning of the Great Depression, and pretend the internet doesn’t exist. In 2019.

Absurd? Yes. So please, please stop it. The past is a little more complicated – and interesting – than that.

6 thoughts on “Regency is NOT Victorian – which is NOT Edwardian!

  1. I feel the same as you, Sonya. Many times I have seen reviews that refer to certain books. as Regency romances when the dates in the books clearly indicate that they are set in the Victorian or Edwardian eras. I am constantly seeing Lisa Kleypas’s books referred to as Regency when they are set in the late 1800s, well after Victoria’s accession to the throne in 1837.

  2. Preach! When I blogged for Heroes and Heartbreakers, I wrote one post on how to tell Regency and Victorian books apart, because the terms are NOT interchangeable. British history even helps us civilians out by right out telling us who was on the throne at the time. Ergo, Regency = there was a regent on the throne. No. Other. Time.

    Victorian is not Regency. It is not Edwardian, either. All Regencies are Georgian, but not all Georgians are Regencies. Same as all Highlanders are Scotsmen, but not all Scotsmen are Highlanders.

  3. Pingback: The Week: 6th – 12th January – Sonya's Stuff

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