Social Success: How to Talk Like a Regency Buck (Lesson Two)

Although it does not always lead to (or, to be frank, rarely leads to) gentlemanly behaviour, drink is certainly a large feature on the social landscape of the Regency Buck. To that end, today’s guide to language will focus on that controversial substance: alcohol.

And, once again courtesy of the esteemed Mr Grose, here are some of the best expressions for Regency drinking:

Continue reading

Life and Style: Must-Have Accessories for the Fashionable Regency Lady

As all ladies of taste will know, creating an outfit is no mean feat. Style is an art, which requires endeavour, commitment and judgement. One must be careful to create the correct aesthetic. Our clothing is a representation of our inner selves and our aspirations.

The current preference for gentlemen (as directed by the esteemed Mr Brummell) is moving towards plainer, simpler fabrics with an emphasis on cut, quality and fit. The fashion for ladies (unless formal occasion requires otherwise) is moving in a similar direction. In general, a lady should aim for a natural look, with an air of romantic innocence, and perhaps a hint of Classical grace and elegance. Take the Grecian statues as your inspiration: careful draping and clean lines and silhouettes are the order of the day.

Continue reading

Calling Cards: Princess Lieven

It is with this post that we introduce a new section to The Nineteenth Century Handbook. While how-to, lifestyle and etiquette guides will help you to mix and mingle with Regency and Victorian society, you’ll also need to know their ‘movers and shakers’. The new ‘Calling Cards’ section should help you to appear well-informed (or be well-informed, depending on how you look at it) and allow you to casually name drop the ‘right’ people into your conversation, or recognise them if you do achieve that level of social success.

With this in mind, one of the key players in Regency society, and indeed Regency politics and diplomacy, is Princess Lieven.

Continue reading

Social Success: How to Talk Like a Regency Buck

Today’s helpful guide is aimed for the aspiring Regency Buck, the fashionable gentleman, the man about town. Fitting in can be difficult at the best of times, but even harder if you don’t know the lingo. Using the words and phrases listed here, you’ll be able to talk the talk (although you may still have to learn to walk-the -walk).

The words detailed here were first compiled by Francis Grose and published in 1785 as A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. A runaway success, it was expanded upon with a further edition in 1811 to outline Buckish slang, university wit and pickpocket eloquence.

Continue reading

Life and Style: The Scandalous Waltz

One of the great shocks and scandals of the Regency period was the introduction of the waltz. It become popular in Vienna in the 1780s, but didn’t make its first appearance in England until 1810.

And it wasn’t met with a warm reception.

Considered indecent and disreputable, even by the ‘fast’ set of Regency society, it became the subject of diatribes and caricatures. It wasn’t until later in the period, after the Napoleonic Wars, that it became more generally acceptable. Princess Lieven acted as something like an ambassador of respectability, and smoothed its introduction into polite company. The strict Lady Patronesses of Almack’s (perhaps not coincidentally, Princess Lieven can be counted among them) eventually allowed it to be danced in their esteemed Assembly Rooms.

And while respectability and acceptability are difficult to down, by the time Emma was published in 1815, Jane Austen must have considered it suitable enough if one of her heroines was dancing it.

Social Success: How to Walk Like a Regency Gentleman

First impressions count, and when you are newly arrived in town, they may well count for everything. If you fail to cut a striking figure, a dashing pose, or properly return a salute, you may well find that doors are closed and the calling cards dry up at your door.

There are two ways to remedy this situation. The first is to move from fashionable town to fashionable town, in the hopes of things going better for you in the next one. Unfortunately, this isn’t really a lasting remedy. Manners maketh the man wherever he goes, so getting it wrong in a new town doesn’t really change anything. Regency High Society also has a habit of being on the move, so your reputation will eventually either catch-up with you, or precede you. The second plan, and the one recommended here, is to carefully study the following guide and learn how to walk-the-walk.

Continue reading

Review: Nelson’s Caribbean Hell-Hole, an Eighteenth Century Graveyard Uncovered

Nelson arrived in Antigua in 1784 and later described English Harbour as ‘an infernal hole’. He was miserable during his time there. His complaints, however, were largely related to his boredom, restlessness and hopeless love for a woman who was already married to another man. His men most likely hated their time here as well, although for very different reasons.


Probably because the island was also known as the graveyard of the Englishman.

Continue reading

In-Depth: Fashion History and Exploring Everyday Life

Recently, I’ve found myself tweeting lots of pictures of beautiful clothes, rich fabrics and intricate needlework, all with the hashtag #fashionhistory. These pictures have been stunning to look at and admire. The dresses and shoes were made to be admired. They were made to draw the eye, the observers’ attention. But what can we learn from them?

Following the history of fashion is a way of following the daily lives of individuals. Our clothes today cultivate an appearance and an impression. It was no different for our Regency and Victorian ancestors. Clothes are, and were, a series of ‘signifiers’ for gender, class, morals and norms. For example, the tightly laced corsets of the Victorian era suggest control and restraint, not only of morals, but of women in general.

Continue reading

Life and Style: Victorian Names – 1880s

I may have mentioned this before, but I have just purchased a Victorian house, and I am so excited for all of the history! I just got a package from the solicitors, and along with it came a whole stack of documents going back to 1880. Reading through them was so exciting and magical. One of the things that I love about owning a period property is thinking about all the people who have walked through it and lived in it before me. I love the idea that someone’s long skirt swished through the corner of a doorway, or that someone’s heels clicked on the tiles in the hallway.

I love this very human, domestic way of thinking about history, but looking at those documents, the list of buyers, sellers, executors and solicitors also brought me round to thinking about names. What we call ourselves, and what we call our children, tells a story.

Continue reading