In our first installment, iUniverse outlined the hierarchies in Regency England as well as the importance of social norms. Today, we look at the day-to-day lives of people in this era and potential types of characters.
Male activities: the men of the gentry and aristocracy spent a fair amount of time outdoors. They engaged in horseback riding, hunting, and shooting. (This is why they always changed their clothes before coming to dinner.) When in London, men would spend much of their time at the Gentlemen’s Clubs, where they discussed England’s current war (usually against the French), smoked, and gambled.
Female pastimes: in contrast to their male suitors, women of the gentry spent most of their time indoors. Conversation was of primary importance, as was reading, studying languages, and learning one or more of the fine arts such as playing piano, drawing, or painting. It was a life of paltry concerns, and as a writer, you should be able to make conversations about the colour of a dress last over several pages.
Regarding types of characters, it is inevitable that there will be some stereotypes. The challenge for you is to take these generalities and twist them to make your tale unique – if indeed that is what you wish. Some standard characters are:
- The cold, wealthy aunt or grandmother who meddles with marriage decisions in the family
- The dashing soldier who has fought at Waterloo
- The match-making mother
- The father: often fond of eating and drinking, and distant from his daughters
- The daughter or daughters who are obsessed with getting married
- The sons: the eldest son inherited the property, the second and third went into the army or joined the upper ranks of the Church of England. University education was not popular.
One further tip: make sure to know all the styles of dress. Clothing was linked to social status at this time, and people spent a lot of time deliberating what to wear – and putting it on! Regency dress was extremely elaborate.
What other periods of history would you be excited to write about?