Natalie Kleinman on What Regency Ladies Really Did...

I suppose it was inevitable, once I’d been writing for a few years, that I’d be unable to resist the temptation of attempting a novel in my favourite genre. It began purely as self-indulgence and I was by no means convinced I could pull it off. Let me explain. My choices when reading have always been quite broad but, though I was never stuck in one time, place or indeed planet, my go genre to when seeking comfort combined with entertainment has been Regency England, most particularly the novels of Georgette Heyer. I was introduced to her writing when I was about eleven years old and my passion has never waned.

What was life like for a woman born into the upper circles of society in Regency times? Not nearly as free as perhaps some of our heroines would suggest. It was, after all, a man’s world, and there was little choice for her but to marry well and give her husband an heir and often numerous progeny. While boys and young men of the period went to public school and university, girls would be home-educated by a governess, learning household management to prepare them for their future position as the mistress of their husband’s establishments. Piano teachers and dance masters attended to impart those attributes necessary to any young lady whose mama wished her to make the very best impression when launched into society. The governess was often a woman from the same class who had fallen upon hard times, necessitating that she earn her own living.

Sewing was an occupation much enjoyed by young ladies of the day, being both useful and a way of wiling away the hours when confined to the home, at the same time leaving the mind free to listen to a novel being read aloud. Many were incredibly proficient, witness some of the beautiful articles that have come down to us through history. I am in awe as I find even sewing on a button an arduous process.

Another means of employing a young woman’s time was drawing and painting. This could be done both indoors or outside and a girl would often take her sketchpad out with her to capture what she could. A while ago I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and one of my most treasured photos is of a delightful watercolour paint box (c1820) (see above). Colours were pre-formed into cakes with a binding medium, avoiding the messy preparation previously needed. It was seeing this artefact that inspired me to attribute a talent for painting to one of the secondary characters in one of my novels, to be released next year, and which gave me what turned out to be an essential plot line…

…which brings me back to my own books. I have five Regencies with Sapere Books, two of which have been published this year and the third, When Only Pride Remains, currently on pre-order from Amazon and due for publication on 12th October. You can find all my books on my website Natalie Kleinman, together with my blog and newsletter sign-up page. I hope you will come and visit. I’m always ready to chat.

 

Jane, thank you so much for featuring me on your blog today. It’s nice to get out occasionally.