Georgette Heyer: 1902-1974

Pioneer of Regency Romance Genre

In 1989 authors Teresa Chris & Arthur Barbosa published a detailed look the world  Heyer’s wrote about in: Georgette Heyer’s Regency England (Sidwick & Jackson; 1989).  More than fifteen years later Jennifer Kloester took another look at Heyer’s detailed author notes in her books: Georgette Heyer’s Regency World (London: Heinemann; 2005)and Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller (London; Heinemann; 2010); as well as a great fan website.

It is said that Georgette Heyer is the one who began the genre known as “Regency Romance” and in her lifetime wrote: 34 Regency Romance novels; 6 Historical; 4 contemporary; 12 thrillers and 16 short stories (as well as several non-fiction articles; “Books About the Bronte’s” and “How to be a Literary Writer”)

But this review is not so much the history of Heyer’s but a nostalgic look at work that heavily influenced my desire to become an author.


I discovered my first Georgette Heyer romance novel “The Masqueraders” when I was fifteen and was instantly captivated by her ability to weave history, plot, humor, and romance onto paper in such a way that immersed the reader into the flamboyant lifestyle of 1800 century England.  She was so convincing with the details of the time period and characters she wrote about,  that I remember thinking to myself  that God had somehow miscalculated the trajectory in my birthing timeline by at least one-hundred-fifty years.

Now I’m not naïve to think that the majority of men (maybe even women) will give a rip about a review on one more Regency romance author (all hail Harlequin Romances), but before you hit the delete button on this post, hear me out.

The reason I decided to write this wasn’t about reliving my childhood fantasy’s (thought there are a few I still might) or even about reverting to an earlier genre preference. No the whole reason I’m taking time to jot this down is, that when I went back and re-read “These Old Shades” (William Heinemann LTD, London, 1932);, it’s sequel “Devil’s Cub” (E.P. Dutton & Co., INC., New York, 1966) and “The Masqueraders” (E.P. Dutton & Co., INC., New York) I realized what it was that caught my attention as a kid: Georgette Heyer’s was a brilliant author – period.

In more than fifty years as an avid reader, I have never come across an author who developed character or dialog better than her. Bar-none. Though her plots are generally good, it is her ability to use detail (without becoming boring) and nuance  in the dialog and description of her characters that makes her truly brilliant.

“Remind me one day to teach you how to achieve a sneer, Hugh. Yours is too pronounced, and thus but a grimace. It should be but a faint curl of the lips.”
― Georgette HeyerThese Old Shades

One of my favorite aspects of writing is dialog,  and so it was with a sense of awe and wonder that I realized just how damn good this gal was. She didn’t just use dialog to move the story along, she used it as a tool to mold and paint her characters,  so that when you were finished with the book, each one was as familiar to me as the person I saw every morning when I looked in the mirror.

So among-st all the other “must read” stacked on the surface of almost every imaginable area of my office, I’m taking out my collection of Heyer’s, dusting off the jackets and sitting down to re-educate myself on prose that is not only clean and humorous, but demonstrates  what really great character  development and dialog  actually look and sound like.

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer;