Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bringing the Regency to Life


by Michele Ann Young

One of the things a historical author has to do, apart from providing and entertaining story, is to bring something from history to life for the reader. In The Lady Flees Her Lord, most of the story is set in the English countryside in an imaginary village in Kent near Maidstone. Because I have amazingly fond memories of English country fairs all across the country, I decided that it might make a good form of entertainment for my characters, seeing as they would be spending little time in London.

Fairs were originally set up by royal charter for trade. They also involved an element of entertainment and over time villages held their own small fairs on the village green as an annual event.

So I went looking for descriptions of what might be going on at such a fair. The picture at the top is of Bartholomews fair in London. This was a huge event and a country fair would be very much smaller and more intimate and the games much more hokey.

Roundabouts were popular, but as you can see from this image, not the kind of fancy carousel you might think of today. Games like ducking for apples, (bobbing) were considered great fun, and the lucky dip in a bran barrel was always the height of the day.

There would be competitive games, archery, the greasy pig, and a form of tug of war. I had lots of fun researching what kinds of games one might find at a fair during the Regency and of course giving my characters lots of grief in the process. So here is just a little of what went into my research.

7 comments:

  1. Interesting, Michele! I admire the effort that goes into making historicals authentic. Sounds like winner!

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  2. I always think it's fascinating to hear about what people did before they had electronic entertainment. But a greased pig, that sounds fun no matter when you are. Haha! Thanks again Michele for an informative blog. Your research is always cool.

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  3. I love it! Of course I can totally relate to the amount of research that goes into writing a historical. Can't take anything for granted. Just the other day I was writing of my characters in France eating pastries. Naturally I thought of eclairs and petit fours, but had to look it up and it was a good thing because neither existed at that time! On the other hand, I wrote of both a country fair and a festival in my series and discovered all sorts of amazing entertainments that did exist: fireworks, trick horseback riders, acrobats, clowns, and more. Thanks for this and for the great pictures! I love finding cool paintings that make it visible. Helps in the writing process.

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  4. I'm always amazed by authors who write historicals. Not only must they know all the customs and mores, they have to build whole worlds, and write in a veritable foreign language. I have a hard enough with American English.

    Regencies are my absolute favorite because I'm totally addicted to JA. I can't wait to read yours, Michele.

    Robin :)

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  5. Michele

    I think this is one of the reasons that I love historical romance so much I love learning about the things that people did back then and what games they played I really appreciate all of the research that goes into writing a great story. I am waiting for my book order to arrive so as I can read this book.
    Have Fun
    Helen

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  6. Hi everyone, thanks for dropping in. I'm glad you enjoyed the information as much as I did.

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  7. LOL! The greasy pig? Don't think I'd want to do that in my Regency-era dress! Archery would be cool, though: Men in tights!

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