I'm really loving all of the different aspects that authors have brought to the series, and today Catherine Kullmann takes us back to the Regency period. I've read plenty of Historical Fiction and Historical Romances set in the period, but there's always something new to learn.
Catherine's here to fill in some of those finer details that set the reader right into the period and she's sent along fabulous images to give us a wonderful feel for the subject matter. Look closely and you'll see plenty of societal comments, some mocking and others purely reflecting the times. I love them all and can't choose which to use, so I'm squeezing in all four and hope you'll enjoy them, too.
You're very welcome to my blog, Catherine. Please take us back ...
The simplest way to describe the Regency is ‘the period between hoops and crinolines’. Beautiful Empire gowns, light muslins, gentlemen in severely tailored riding clothes and highly polished boots, Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, waltzes, quadrilles and the Battle of Waterloo. But it is so much more than that. Although the actual Regency during which the Prince of Wales acted as regent for his father, the incapacitated King George III, only lasted from 1811 to 1820, the Regency era, characterised by distinctive trends in British architecture, literature, fashions, politics, and culture could be said to cover the period from the marriage of the Prince of Wales and later King George IV in 1795 to the death of his successor King William IV in 1837.
|Presenting the Trophies-Courtesy of Catherine Kullmann|
The events of this significant period of European and American history still resonate after two hundred years. The Act of Union between Great Britain and Ireland of 1800, the Anglo-American war of 1812 and the final defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 all continue to shape our modern world.
|Vauxhall Gardens- Courtesy of Catherine Kullmann|
British society at this time was dominated by the aristocracy and great landowners who not only filled the House of Lords but also, through an unequal franchise coupled with outdated constituency borders, controlled much of the House of Commons. In The Age of Elegance, Arthur Bryant says, “Little more than 400,000 out of the English and Welsh population of 10 1/2 million enjoyed a parliamentary vote and only 4000 out of 2 million Scots”.
Reform was slow in coming and several times during this period the Great Britain teetered on the brink of insurrection and civil war. The suspension of the Habeas Corpus Acts in 1794 resulted, as one diarist noted, in ‘Many people taken up in England for Sedition & Treason’. The acts were suspended again in 1798, reinstated in 1802 with the release of most of the imprisoned radicals, and suspended again in 1817. A series of ‘Gagging Acts’ sought to prevent any hint of sedition and libel. The military were used to suppress demonstrations, culminating in the infamous Peterloo massacre in 1819 when cavalry charged the crowd at a reform meeting in Manchester, leaving over four hundred injured and eleven to fifteen people dead, including a two-year-old boy.
The long process of Catholic emancipation was completed in 1829 with the Roman Catholic Relief Act, and Catholics were finally able to take their seats in both houses of parliament. 1832 saw the beginning of political reform when the Reform Act extended the franchise to more than the select few as well as redrawing constituency borders and doing away with pocket boroughs. Some parts of the new United Kingdom were still more equal than others, however; in 1833, one in five Englishmen had the vote, one in eight Scotsmen and one in twenty Irishmen.
|Tom and Bob King Charles' Crib - Courtesy of Catherine Kullmann|
Nancy: This is such a fabulous painting. Every single character has something to linger over. Where does that pipe at the right draw out attention to? Who is beyond listening properly? Look at the huge long pipe at left because of the enormous hat brim! Questions abound...
The Napoleonic wars lasted twelve years. Unlike the other combatants, the UK was spared the havoc wrought by an invading army and did not suffer under an army of occupation. The war happened elsewhere, far away. People were generally unaware of its progress—the only available news was that provided in official dispatches published in The Gazette and the odd private letter that reached home. But the war had to be paid for. The unpopular income tax, which was introduced for the first time in 1798 and abolished in 1802 after conclusion of the Peace of Amiens was reintroduced in 1803 as a ‘contribution of the profits arising from property, professions, trades and offices’. Napoleon’s continental blockade depressed trade, leading to increased unemployment and rising food prices.
As in 1945, the price of victory only became really apparent after the war was over. Britain was left with a huge national debt. The bottom fell out of the armaments market and exports, after a brief initial rise, fell. There was a rise in bankruptcies, further unemployment and the Corn Laws kept the price of grain (and food) artificially high. And let us not forget the human cost of the wars, bitterly felt by families whose menfolk were fighting abroad but otherwise accepted as the price of victory. Over three hundred thousand British and Irish men did not return from the Napoleonic wars, dead of wounds or disease.
|At a ball. Courtesy of Catherine Kullmann|
Nancy: Plenty of whispering going on here! Isn't she the lucky one to have a man to woo her?
What did this mean for their families, especially the women? My novels are set against this backdrop of an off-stage war in a patriarchal world where women had few or no rights or opportunities and were open to abuse and exploitation by those whom society expected to protect them. They had very little security but were held to an impossibly high moral standard. There were only two sorts of women, good and bad, and a lost reputation could never be redeemed.
In my new novel, A Suggestion of Scandal, governess Rosa Fancourt remembers the day when her world crumbled around her.
Poor Mamma had remarried so quickly after Papa was killed at
. ‘I am tired of being alone’ was
all she had said when she told Rosa she had agreed to wed Mr Kennard and that
her daughter would not come with her to his home but would board at Mrs Ellicott’s.
And then, little more than a year later, she had died in childbed and Copenhagen Rosa was truly orphaned. Her stepfather hadn’t even come
himself to break the news but had written to a Mr Chidlow who had travelled
across England so that he could personally explain the change in her
“I could do no less for Captain Fancourt’s daughter,” he had told her when she expressed her surprise at his presence. “He came to
Maidstone especially to
tell my dear wife and me of the final hours of our son who served as midshipman
under him. Since then I have acted as his man of business and am now your
“In respect of the one thousand pounds he left directly to you, Miss Rosa. Unfortunately your mother’s property became this Kennard’s outright on their marriage—if she had consulted me, I should have advised a settlement that would have made appropriate provision for you on her death, but regrettably she did not—and he refuses to deprive his infant son of any of what he describes as his rightful inheritance.”
“An infant son? The baby lived? I have a brother!”
Rosa had jumped up in
excitement. “When can I see him? Do you know what he is called, sir?”
“I do not,” Mr Chidlow replied shortly. He looked appealingly at Mrs Ellicott who took
“Sadly, my dear
Mr Kennard writes that he does not accept any responsibility for you. He is not
your father, he says; you have never lived in his household and he does not
wish to receive you into it.”
“But where am I to go? I must have a home.”
“You must consider this your home for the moment, my dear. Your tuition is paid until the end of this term and after that I shall be pleased to retain you as a pupil-teacher. You will have no fees to pay and will receive an annual allowance of twelve guineas in addition to your bed and board. When you have completed your education and acquired some experience in the class-room, you will be excellently qualified to seek a position as governess in a good family. I am frequently applied to by the best families, you must know and I am sure I shall have no hesitation in recommending you.”
“Might I not look after my brother? I would be no trouble to Mr Kennard, I assure you.”
Mr Chidlow shook his head. “I ventured to suggest that you might help care for the child, but he refuses to consider it.”
She looked from one to the other. Her surviving parent was dead, she had a new brother whom she would never know and the man who had professed to love her mother denied her daughter the shelter of his home. Tears slipped silently down her cheeks. It had proved impossible to still them and, in the end, Mrs Ellicott had to summon the physician to administer a soporific draught.
When A Suggestion of Scandal opens, Rosa, after spending ten years as governess to Chloe Loring, is about to leave the Loring’s employment. When she discovers two lovers in flagrante delicto, her life and future are suddenly at risk. Even if she escapes captivity, the mere suggestion of scandal is enough to ruin a lady in her situation. In Sir Julian Loring she finds an unexpected champion but will he stand by her to the end? A Suggestion of Scandal is available worldwide from Amazon as eBook and paperback. At present it is on request at netGalley.
Universal Amazon buy link: https://nrnk.co/a/B07DRLQZL8
Catherine Kullmann was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, she moved to Germany where she lived for twenty-six years before returning to Ireland. She has worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector.
Catherine’s debut novel, The Murmur of Masks, received a Chill with a Book Readers Award and was short-listed for Best Novel in the 2017 CAP (Carousel Aware Prize) Awards. Perception & Illusion received a Chill with a Book Readers Award and a Discovered Diamonds Award. Her new novel, A Suggestion of Scandal, is out now.
Thank you so much for sharing your Regency period with us today, Catherine. I'm looking forward to finding out more about Rosa. Best wishes with A Suggestion of Scandal .