Of the many historical periods I’ve written in, I must confess that one of my favorites is the Georgian Period. This era runs technically from the ascension to the throne of George I in 1714 and ending with the death of George IV in 1830, although it is often extended until 1837 and the death of William IV. (There is the sub-set era of the Regency—1811-1820—but I’ll go into that when I tackle R.)
My fascination with the period stemmed from my reading of Jo Beverley’s Malloren series, set in the 1760s. What I found and loved about the period was its streak of wildness, of blatant debauchery and wantonness very readily apparent. Something was always going on: political intrigue, a shift in marriage laws, lecherous art, and duels with swords. All of these are excellent fodder for romance novels.
Because of the war with France (French and Indian War to us Americans), spying and spy rings were rampant during the time. In the legislature, the Hardwicke Act of 1754 made clandestine marriages illegal, thus setting up Gretna Green in Scotland as the place to run to for an underage marriage.
Lechery abounded in the Georgian period, from Hogarth’s famous engraved series, “The Rake’s Progress,” to the lewd paintings of Francoise Boucher and Thomas Rowlandson.
This was a time of wanton sexual abandon, including Harris’s List of Covent Garden
Ladies, a “little black book” listing all the prostitutes in London and their specialties or quirks and one of the most notorious novels in print, Fanny Hill, or A Woman of Pleasure.
The early and middle Georgian period was also a time of the Code Duello, whereby men could (and often did) settle insults to their honor or the honor of their families, with a duel. Duels were fought with either swords or pistols, but swordsmanship was highly prized during the period and gentlemen were expected to have some skill with a blade.
All of these glorious activities make the Georgian period much less civilized, than other eras, and to me a much more fun time to set romance novels. My first series, The House of Pleasure, has five books, beginning with Only Scandal Will Do, set in the Georgian period. In each of the five books, the brothel The House of Pleasure, figures prominently. The second book of the series, Only Marriage Will Do, is due to release June 9, 2015 from Kensington. That one uses not only the brothel, but the Hardwicke Act and Gretna Green a plot points.
I hope you too fall in love with the scandalous Georgians!