From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress:
Considered the pioneer of Regency romance, Georgette Heyer has been delighting readers with her engaging stories, memorable characters and historical accuracy for eight-nine years. In honor of her birthday on August 16th, we will be focusing over the next month on her romance novels with thirty-four book reviews, interviews, essays by Heyer experts and discussion by her readers.
My Introduction to Georgette Heyer
I read my first Georgette Heyer novel only two years ago. I had been hearing about her for years, but somehow had not delved in. Mind you, most of her titles were out of print here in the US, so I cannot blame the neglect of my education entirely on oversight or ignorance! She came to my attention again when Sourcebooks began re-issuing her novels in 2007. My blogging friend and fellow Janeite, Vic of Jane Austen’s World had been posting monthly reviews as they were re-released. Her praise and enthusiasm was infectious, but where to start? Vic recommended Friday’s Child and that was all I needed. I was off on a new reading adventure and I have not regretted one moment since.
Sharing the Love for Heyer
As a bookseller, I never hesitate to recommend Heyer to readers who like Jane Austen or other historical fiction novelists. I am happy to say that I in turn passed the torch and converted Katherine of November’s Autumn. Happily, she is now hooked too. Hopefully there will be a few more converts from this event who will discover the charms of an author who is worthy of high praise.
Born August 16, 1902 in Wimbledon near London, Georgette Heyer’s writing career began in 1921 at the age of nineteen with the publication of The Black Moth, a story originally written in serial format to amuse her younger brother. It was a romantic comedy set in the mid eighteenth-century and involved many of the elements that would later become her trademark: money, marriage and social machinations of the English Aristocrats and gentry.
Jane Austen Similarities & Differences
Best known for her twenty-six Regency-era romance novels (1811-1820), she is often linked to Jane Austen. Although their styles are similar in basic concept, Austen wrote contemporary novels with little physical descriptions and Heyer wrote historical novels with detailed physical description for a contemporary audience.
Large Fan Base
Even though Heyer was never recognized critically by the press or academia during her lifetime, publicly she was very successful with a loyal following. Amazingly a Heyer new release would sell over half a million copies, a number that would place any modern novel on today’s best-selling lists. Unlike many romance writers of her era, her passion for historical accuracy was quite remarkable. She collected research materials and investigated the eras that she was writing of extensively. Her physical descriptions were so successful that she rarely needs to mention a date, instead placing the reader in context historically. Her account of the Battle of Waterloo was so accurate that is was used as a text for British officers at Sandhurst Military Academy.
A Prolific Writing Career
During her prolific fifty-three year career, she wrote fifty-six historical fiction, regency romance and detective fiction novels publishing sometimes more than one a year to meet the demand of her readers and support her family. Unfortunately, she was plagued with plagiarism woes which she chose not to pursue legally and tax problems pressing her to write the Regency romances the public loved to pay the bills and put aside her “magnum opus of my latter years”, a medieval trilogy of the House of Lancaster. She completed the first novel in the series My Lord John before her death in London on 4 July 1974. It was published posthumously in 1975.
New Editions by Sourcebooks
After eighty-nine years the majority of her novels are still in print thanks to the good folks at Sourcebooks and Harlequin Books. I hope that if you have not had a chance to read a Heyer novel you will be encouraged to take the plunge. I have only come to appreciate her as of late, and I could not be more enchanted. She is “bang up to the mark”.
- Heyer Today Podcast
- Georgette Heyer Website
- Georgette Heyer at Wikipedia
- An Appreciation of Georgette Heyer by Jay Dixon
- Georgette Heyer Archive at Austenprose
Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2010, austenprose.com. Updated 25 March 2022.