Welcome back class! With our Genres lessons having waned somewhat, I thought it was time to take a new approach in our bookish higher learning. So, today I introduce the new batch of lectures, looking at different elements in the books we read, from themes and literary terms to who knows what?
I thought we’d start by taking a look at the different times that appear in historical novels. These will be mostly featuring stories set in England for the moment, but as you’ll soon find out, time is truly relative to the places and subjects in the books. Grab your pencils and let’s get back to school!:
The most commonly heard time frame in historical romances is the Regency Romance. These novels are set during the British Regency and take place within the years 1811-1820. In England, this was a time when the king (George III) was deemed unable to rule and his son acted in place of him. There are also mentions of the Regency period extending from 1795-1837, when discussing literature and architecture.
For literature at this time, it seems Jane Austen was the trend setter for the elements contained in a Regency novel. Things like carriage rides, balls, seasonal activities are just a few of the common elements (a more complete list can be seen here.) I think this was a very stringent time, when the class differences and social formalities were at their highest. Other writers of the Regency themed novel include Georgette Heyer and Mary Balogh. In other areas of the world, the broad Regency time include the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars.
The Victorian period is another common time in historical novels and is aptly named for Queen Victoria. It encompassed the years 1837-1901, falling in immediately after the larger of the two Regency definitions. The Victorian time was an interesting one when you think about the types of novels produced: Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Sherlock Holmes, to name a few. The Victorian era contained gothic novels, the wide publication of mystery, and saw the move from romanticism to aestheticism (I’ll have to do a glossary of terms lesson soon too 😉
I find it interesting that the Victorian era is equated with the Steampunk movement. In a steampunk novel, there’s always a lot of action involved, but the fashion at the time, especially for women, still didn’t allow for much freedom of movement. (For a look at Victorian fashions, check out this website: Victorian Age Clothing.)
Other popular time periods include: The Tudor era, 1485-1603 (The Other Boleyn Girl, among many others are set during this time). The Elizabethan era, 1558-1603; Elizabeth being the last in the Tudor line was also included in the Tudor era. Anything by Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Ben Jonson was written during Elizabeth’s Reign. Between 1066 and 1204, it was the Norman era and can claim works from Geoffrey of Monmouth, as well as the tale of Tristan and Iseult. Not too shabby, right?
For a more comprehensive list of the different eras, you can click here.
Did you learn anything new? What are your favourite times to read about? What are your favourite novels set within these eras?