Review: A Very British Romance with Lucy Worsley

In this new three-part documentary series showing on BBC4 (and iPlayer), Lucy Worsley explores three centuries of romance, arguing that the way this is experienced can be traced back through specific historical events.

The first programme begins in the Georgian era and charts the rise of the romance novel, which Worsley argues changed the way we felt and thought forever. However, the history of emotions can be a rather murky topic at times. It must be stressed that Worsley is exploring romance and the experience of thereof (i.e. courtship and marriage, and how this is perceived and handled by individuals and the wider community) rather than the internal, personal feeling of love.

A Very British Romance takes four key romance novels from this period – Pamela, Clarissa, Evelina and Sense and Sensibility – and discusses their interaction with and reception by the public. Their vast and immediate popularity (to the extent that some villagers rang church bells when they received their latest instalment of Pamela in which she gets married), explorations of pertinent social questions (such as virtue and the cult of sensibility) and lasting appeal strongly indicate that they changed the Georgian experience of romantic love, and have had an impact which has been filtered down through the ages.

The documentary also includes some interesting anecdotes (such as how a teenage Jane Austen defaced the marriage registry in her father’s church) and Worsley’s clear enjoyment and interest in the subject bursts through the documentary. In short, it is a fun and interesting programme – not to be missed!

 

Bibliography

‘A Very British Romance with Lucy Worsley’, BBC4, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06h1fys.

Please note that Behind The Past cannot be responsible for the content of external links and websites.

 

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