Today is the 110th anniversary of Georgette Heyer‘s birth and romance authors and readers everywhere are marking this day.
Georgette Heyer is often credited with inventing the Regency Romance and it is for certain that the Regency world we authors write about has been highly influenced by Heyer either directly or indirectly.
I came late to reading Heyer’s books. I’d already started writing romance and my friends Helen and Julie mentioned loving Georgette Heyer. So I gave them a try at about the same time that I started reading traditional Regencies (the Signets and Zebras).
I fell in love with the world Heyer created and with her wit and especially the language of her Regencies. When I decided to write in the Regency era, I listened to Chivers Audiobooks of Heyer’s books, over and over, to get the style and cadence of the speech correct (I also listened to Jane Austen audiobooks. Austen, of course, wrote during the era).
Heyer also became my model for the importance of research in writing an historical. She kept meticulous notebooks on every aspect of her research from fashions to the events of the day and was fanatical about accurate detail.
One of my favorite stories about Heyer came from her biography by Jane Aiken Hodge, The Private World of Georgette Heyer. After she’d written An Infamous Army, she took her son, then a schoolboy, to a museum where a model of the battle was displayed (the Siborne Diorama at the National Army Museum in Chelsea, perhaps?). Using the model she began, step by step, explaining the battle to him, when soon group of spectators gathered around to listen to her. Heyer’s description of the battle of Waterloo has been acclaimed the best there is and has been used at Sandhurst to aid in study of the battle.
An Infamous Army is not my favorite Heyer, though. My favorite is Venetia, which is, in my opinion, the quintessential Regency Romance.
It makes me a little sad that Heyer did not esteem her Regency novels as highly as we do today. Her romantic passion was for the Medieval period, specifically for a trilogy she’d planned to write on the House of Lancaster, which she never finished. The first book of that trilogy, My Lord John, was published posthumously.
She was also the author of several highly regarded mystery novels, although her mysteries never reached the popularity of those of her contemporaries, Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers.
But nobody surpassed Heyer in her Regency novels, not even those authors who, at the time she was writing, blatantly plagiarized her books.
Read more tributes to Georgette Heyer:
Romancing the Book (a contest)
(this is also the anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre. Read all about it at Risky Regencies)
What is your favorite Georgette Heyer book?