One of the true bummers about the fabric of reality and the nature of spacetime is that time travel isn’t possible. But humanity’s urge to experience the past and foresee the future is a strong one, and since when have we ever let something like scientific impossibility or astronomical odds stop us? Necessity is, after all, the mother of invention. In lieu of a literal time machine, humans, clever creatures that we are, invent, recreate and reimagine history while also crafting and projecting the future through storytelling.
In this blog series, we’ll travel through time in the fictional dimension. Each post will recommend works of fiction set in a specific historical (or future) time and/or place. Explore different perspectives of the past and forecasts of the future in Stacks to the Future.
Today’s Destination: Regency England
The Regency Period began in 1811, the year that the Prince of Wales assumed the role of Prince Regent when the deteriorating mental health of his father, George III, prevented him from ruling over Great Britain and its colonies. If George III sounds familiar, that’s because he’s the king the colonists were fighting against in the American Revolutionary War.
The Regency Period lasted until the death of George III in 1820, when the Prince Regent began his reign as George IV. The era is perhaps now most famous for two things: the end of the Napoleonic Wars and Jane Austen.
The early years of the Regency Period saw the final defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo. After decades of tension and warfare between England and France, things were finally settling down to their usual dynamic of mutual open disdain.
Our cultural memory of the Regency Era has perhaps been best defined by Jane Austen (1775–1817), a novelist who is probably best known for Pride and Prejudice. Austen told stories of strong-willed women, clashes between social classes, the consequences of unchecked privilege, ballroom gossip and of course love. It is in large part because of Austen’s novels —all of which were published during the Regency Era—that we remember it as an era of manners, ball gowns, propriety and tea time. She is even said to have invented the modern romantic comedy.
You can find these titles either in person in our library stacks or in our digital collection. Title descriptions are provided by the publisher.
Explore the Era Through Nonfiction
For more information on the Regency Period, check out The Regency Years : During which Jane Austen Writes, Napoleon Fights, Byron Makes Love, and Britain Becomes Modern by Robert Morrison
For more information on The Battle of Waterloo, check out Waterloo: the history of four days, three armies, and three battles by Bernard Cornwell
For more information on Jane Austen and her life, check out Jane Austen at Home: a Biography by Lucy Worsley
And finally, for more information on the real-life bad girls of the Regency Period, check out Bad and Mad: Real Heroines of Regency, by Bea Koch