If you ride horses or deal with them regularly, you might already know the info in this tidbit (even so, you might find this more detailed article interesting. For the rest of you, here’s something you may not know. Horses were used in different capacities in the Regency. That’s why Sheridan considers raising money by selling some of his. A gentleman might have saddle horses for riding and carriage horses for pulling his carriage. A rich gentleman might also have Thoroughbreds for racing. Then, if their racing days are over, the owner might keep them for putting out to stud and charge stud fees. So Sheridan kept the moneymaking horses and (very sadly) sold some of the saddle horses.
Beyond taking chemistry in college, I know very little about it, so I did a great deal of research for this particular book. I spent FAR too much time watching videos of experiments, but at least I got a direct sense of how certain chemicals reacted to each other. And I found some funny stories about early chemists. There was Christian Friedrich Schönbein (inventor of the fuel cell and guncotton and discoverer of ozone) who, in 1845, despite having promised his wife not to experiment in their kitchen, was doing so while she was away and used her apron to sop up a combo of nitric acid and sulfuric acid. Then he hung the apron over the stove to dry and it ignited and burned to ash so quickly that it seemed to vanish! I sure hope it wasn’t his wife’s favorite, although I can totally see Olivia doing something like that (accidentally, of course) to her husband’s nightshirt. Ooh, that could lead to some sexy times, couldn’t it?
Guns during the Regency were sometimes things of beauty, like the one I describe in The Bachelor that Thorn offers to Joshua as payment for his being bodyguard to Gwyn. If you want to see what it looked like, I based it on an actual set of dueling pistols, a picture of which is on Pinterest here and here. I also have an image of Joshua’s seven-shot flintlock pepperbox pistol, made by Henry Nock of London around 1800, which looks big enough to use as a club after you run out of loaded barrels. Of course, it would take you a while to run through them all since the barrels had to be turned by hand! My Pinterest page for the book also features a number of blades in canes, pistol canes . . . everything you need to be a bodyguard.
My Royal Brotherhood series is about three illegitimate sons of the Prince of Wales, whose term as Regent is what gave the period the name of “Regency.” Two of the three sons are actually considered legitimate by the laws of the time, so those two are able to have titles. English law dictated that if a child was born into a marriage, the father was legally the husband, no matter what he might say about it. And of course there was no way to tell in that period that the child was of a different father. Also, having a child by the Prince of Wales wasn’t exactly frowned upon, especially if the husband looked the other way. In fact, I loosely based Marcus, Viscount Draker and the hero of the second book, on George Lamb—fourth son of the first Viscount Melbourne—who was widely rumored to be Prinny’s son. It didn’t seem to have hurt him—George married a duke’s daughter!
The heroine in my upcoming book, Who Wants to Marry a Duke, is a chemist. I based her on an actual female chemist from the period, the Scottish Mrs. Fulhame. Most people have never heard of her and we know little about her beyond the book she wrote detailing her experiments. Yet she published that critical work on her findings about catalysis long before any male chemist was credited with it, and she was lauded by a number of prominent chemists at the time, both in America and England. She even acknowledged that she expected some criticism from men over her work: “But censure is perhaps inevitable: for some are so ignorant, that they grow sullen and silent, and are chilled with horror at the sight of anything that nears the semblance of learning, in whatever shape it may appear; and should be the spectre appear in the shape of a woman, the pangs which they suffer are truly dismal.” Kudos to Mrs. Fulhame! We may not know the exact date of her birth, but she left her work behind to advance scientific discovery anyway. For that we can only be grateful. Go here to read more about her.
Those of you who’ve read The Bachelor might have noticed that I talked about the odd attire required for those ladies presented at court and their escorts. Well, I didn’t make that up. Queen Charlotte did insist on powdered wigs for gentlemen and hoop skirts, ostrich feathers, and lots of jewelry for ladies. You can see several examples of those odd fashions here.
Young ladies had to wear white, but married ladies (like Beatrice) could wear colored gowns. Add a train to the gown, and you can only imagine how hard it was to walk in those fashions! Fortunately, ladies only had to wear them for their presentation at court. Then they could change into something more flattering.
The concept of my series may seem farfetched: a woman marrying (and burying) three dukes in rapid succession (really, two dukes and a duke’s second son who becomes the duke) and having an assortment of children by them. But real-life debutante Elizabeth Gunning proved that it really was possible to marry well more than once. After taking society by storm as an actress, Elizabeth wowed London’s gentlemen with her beauty and talent. As a result, she ended up married to the Duke of Hamilton and bore him three children. After he died, she was briefly engaged to the Duke of Bridgwater before the engagement fell through. Then she married the Marquess of Lorne, who later inherited his father’s title of Duke of Argyll, and bore him five children. Eventually George III made her Baroness Hamilton of Hameldon in her own right. That’s quite a string of marital (and otherwise) successes for an actress!
As I researched dances for Grey to teach Beatrice, I had trouble finding one with set figures for a specific piece of music. Although “Jenny’s Market” from Project Duchess was created specifically for the Emma BBC series, all of the figures can be found in a variety of English country dances, so I went with that one. Plus, it looked sexier than a lot of the others. Hey, just because I wanted a dance that was true to the period doesn’t mean I had to sacrifice intimacy to get it!
Regency Valentines were much the same as ours, except that they were home-made, because commercially produced cards weren’t yet available. Well, that’s sort of true. The decorations could be your own, but as usual, not everyone could come up with a good verse for their Valentine. So you could get books to tell you what to write. My favorite is Hymen’s Rhapsodies, or Lover’s Themes. A collection of original Valentine Verses Written expressly for this Work, for Gentlemen to Address Ladies in Sonnets, Superior to Any Other. Phew! That’s a long title. But at least you knew what you were getting when you bought it. There was even a book that gave you verses for various trades! And the author of the book, the title page of which is pictured below? It’s “Love.” Yes, Love itself wrote the book. Anyway, if you’d like to see some Regency-era valentines, you can visit my Pinterest page for them. You might also be interested in my guide to making your own Regency valentines. Have fun! For more Regency tidbits, click here.
While chocolate as we know it didn’t really exist in the Regency, there was a confectioner named Guglielmo Jarrin who created eggs out of rock sugar. He also had a recipe for created transparent hollow eggs of sugar that could then be filled with yellow cream so they resembled real eggs ala Cadbury Crème Eggs. I wish I could have seen these. They sound so cool! But there’s no way I could make them, even if I could find the lead moulds for them. If you want to try, however, you can check out The Italian Confectioner, available in its entirety online at Google Books.