RNA Regency Celebration

Filed under: about me, RNA, The Summer of Living Dangerously

Any day that consists of spending time with a building full of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer fans is bound to be brilliant, and when you throw in a bit of dancing, a bit of sex and some men in period uniform…

Well, it’s pretty much bliss.

For me, the day started with lugging a suitcase of books and historical costume from Reading to London, and then doing a quick change in the thankfully large and generously be-mirrored ladies’ room at the Royal Overseas League. Several of us were there helping each other button up and doing each other’s hair, including the lovely Christina Courtenay who, believe it or not, made her dress herself. This is Christina and me with Henriette Gyland, who was attired as a very handsome gentleman for the day.

I think it looks like she's pinching our bums. Shameless rake!

I chaired a panel with Nicola Cornick, Juliet Archer, and Beth Elliott to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Sense & Sensibility. Nicola knows a huge amount about the period and was able to offer some interesting links between Willoughby in the novel and the Earl of Craven. Juliet writes modern versions of Jane Austen’s novels and so she had some things to say about the characters and how they translated into modern sensibilities. And Beth traced the philosophical influences on the creation of two heroines, Elinor and Marianne.

In my research I was quite tickled to find that Austen had been rejected (for an early version of Pride and Prejudice) and she funded the publication of Sense & Sensibility, her first novel in print, herself. It was a success (selling out its first print run of 750 copies!) and was published anonymously, as “A Lady”.

The story goes that when Jane and her niece, Anna, saw the book in a circulating library, Anna commented that it must be rubbish with a title like that.

Modern romance writers can identify with all of this, I think!

It was a treat for me to dissect the text a little bit and to revel in its glorious structure. I love the way that Elinor and Marianne’s stories are nearly identical and how Austen deftly manipulates the similarities and differences to create irony and heighten the pacing.

Next, we heard Jennifer Kloester talking about her new biography of Georgette Heyer. I knew hardly anything about Heyer’s life so I was amazed to hear what a deft novelist she was, writing incredibly quicklyโ€”but also how she was plagued by self-doubt about her writing.

There were sessions on Georgian scents and what sounds like a hugely interesting session on Georgian sex, but I chose the active pursuits of Regency dancing and going for a Regency walk. Our guide Louise Allen was knowledgeable and fascinating (and the soldier kept on saluting passers-by!).

Outside the private London Library in St James's Square

There was a Waterloo tea featuring readings and cake, but I stayed at the Royal Overseas league to play Hazard (I’m rubbish at it), and the day was rounded off by a panel discussion about Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, by author Jenny Haddon, Ebury Fiction Editor Gillian Green, Jennifer Kloester, historical author Joanna Fulford, Roy McMillan, producer at Naxos Audiobooks.

There are more photos on Liz Fenwick’s blog, but I will leave you with a photo of me gazing adoringly at Beau Brummel, whilst he gazes stonily into the distance.

Most inappropriate behaviour.

PS…If you’re in the area, I’m giving a talk at Wokingham Library at 8 pm on Thursday 20th October. Wokingham Library’s events are always lovely, so please come!

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15 Responses | | Comments Feed

  1. Looks like you had a great time, esp dressing up.

    • The people in costume really added an extra excitement. The whole day was great, though…very well organised and with lots of ethusiasts.

  2. Great pics, Julie – wish i could have been there!

    R x

  3. I’ve been devouring all the photos that people have put up, as they help to make up for not being able to go to the Regency Day. Thank you for your pictorial contribution to what looks as if it was a really good day.

    Liz X

  4. The other members if that final panel were Gillian Green, who is the Fiction Editor of Ebury Press and is just starting the Rouge Romance List, Joanna Fulford, whose “Wayward Countess” was short-listed for the RNA Historical Novel of the Year Award and Roy McMillan who has produced Naxos’s CDs of Georgette Heyer — Venetia and Sylvester, read by Mr Armitage, and The Grand Sophy, their latest, read by Claire Wille.

    • Thank you very much! Have updated my blog.

  5. It’s been fascinating reading the tweets and blogs on Regency Day – and you look fab in the red dress. It reinforces my thought that in every writer, there is an actor.

  6. Wish I could have been there. I love Jane Austen.

  7. Wow, looks like a fantastic day, I really wish I’d been there!

  8. You all look fantastic! Christina, the dress turned out beautifully! ๐Ÿ˜€

  9. Love the photo of you with Beau Brummell, Julie, that’s just perfect! It was a fun day and great to be with so many like-minded people, all revelling in Austen and Heyer.

    And thanks, Anna, glad you like it ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. You look fabulous, Julie! I can’t believe Christina made her dress herself. Very impressive! Thanks for the photos ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. You look like you had such a fun day, Julie! Love your costume, you could be cover model for a Signet Regency – The Feckless Miss from Redding wore Red. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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