The Regency era only lasted a brief nine years, ending when Prinny finally ascended the throne, as King George IV, upon his father’s death in 1820.
It is an amazingly short period of time, considering the vast and towering mountain of romance novels that have been set in this period, beginning with Georgette Heyer’s invention of the genre and continuing to the present day.
And you all know that I am proposing to add my own contributions to the mountain, as well.
Well, you didn’t expect me to sit out the opportunity to write an entire novel about rakes and rogues, young ladies and dowagers, meticulously tied cravats and scandalously low-cut ball gowns forever, did you? I mean honestly. A girl can only show so much self-restraint.
And I have never been famous for my self-restraint, I can assure you.
Which means that I feel a certain… affection… for the not terribly likeable Prince Regent. He was, after all, famously fond of excess, in his dress, in furnishings, in architecture, in his love life, in his consumption of food and drink…
And nowhere is this rather endearing love of overdoing absolutely everything more evident than in his favorite vacation cottage, The Royal Pavilion in Brighton.
And to celebrate, The Royal Pavilion is mounting a year-long exhibit, Dress for Excess: Fashion in Regency England. One full year of gawping at Prinny’s fantastically over-the-top coronation robe, with its 16-foot-long train that required eight supporters to carry behind his Royal Awesomeness.
Julie over at Austen Only has some fabulous photos of what you’ll be able to see in the Dress for Excess exhibit. You should check it out.
I’ll only be an hour and a half away from Brighton in just one short month, for my annual OMGLondon jaunt with my dear fiend Melissa. So we shall see how inspired we are to make the trip to the seaside and pay our respects at this monumental monument to extravagance. (If you missed OMGLondon 2010, you can read all about it on the OMGLondon 2010 archive page. Oh yes. There is an archive page.)
Regardless, I suggest that we all celebrate Regency Day today in whatever way seems best. Read up on the man himself, in all his glory, or take in a Regency romance. You can try a Georgette Heyer for the original flavor, or opt for a spicier version by one of my two favorites, Julia Quinn and Loretta Chase.
Or watch this utterly splendid movie about the Prince Regent’s sometime best friend, Beau Brummel. Hugh Bonneville, whom you may know as Lord Grantham in Downton Abbey, does a delightful turn as the Prince Regent therein, and there’s even a racy little interlude with Lord Byron involved, too. Well worth your time.
Or you can do as I have been doing these last few nights, and sigh over Regency romance author Louise Allen’s wonderfully rich, detailed, and charmingly illustrated Walks Through Regency London, and make your own extravagant plans for stalking all your favorite Regency figures — fictional and otherwise — through the smoky streets of London.
Whatever you do, do it to the hilt. And then keep going. In honor of Prinny, who really never knew when to stop.