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Frequently Asked Questions
This FAQ is compiled by Roger Burton West with substantial content from mailing list postings. Corrections, amendments and additions are very welcome; contact Roger to get them added.
To a first approximation, like a slightly drawn-out version of "hair". Start with "hair-er", turn the first "r" into a stop ("hai'-er"), then soften it until it's a barely-perceptible interruption in the shifting vowel sound.
From August 16, 1902 until July 4, 1974.
This list is taken from the bibliography at http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/h/georgette-heyer/.
The Private World of Georgette Heyer by Jane Aiken Hodge (1984, out of print; the only biography of Heyer)
Georgette Heyer's Regency England by Teresa Chris (1989)
Georgette Heyer: A Critical Retrospective by Mary Fahnestock-Thomas (2001) (contains all the short fiction not collected in Pistols for Two as well as a variety of reviews and critical writing)
Georgette Heyer's Regency World by Jennifer Kloester (2005)
For a full list including the supporting evidence, see Sally's chronology at http://www.georgette-heyer.com/chron.html, from which this list is taken.
The historical Regency of the future George IV ran from 1810 to 1820; books set outside this period cannot strictly be regarded as "regency romances", though the term has acquired a certain amount of sloppiness in use.
Because Heyer was writing in an era when it was not felt necessary to include explicit mention of sex, and because several of her characters get married near the beginning rather than the end of the book, there has been some discussion as to just when particular couples may first have engaged in sexual intercourse. Many people have their own pet theories; the potential evidence in the text is so sparse, and so very subject to personal interpretation, that there is no way of resolving this question.
(This subject crops up particularly with Kitten and Sherry in Friday's Child.)
The idea that cousins should absolutely not marry is generally considered an American peculiarity. It doesn't apply in most of the world even now, and certainly didn't in Heyer's time. See also the works of Jane Austen, who evidently had no problem with cousins marrying.
Some of them are, yes, though probably not the ones you expect! See Miranda's list at /ages.html. Heyer's youngest heroine is of course strictly historical.
A post coach would make 10mph overall (including stoppages); stage lengths were 5-15 miles, depending on terrain, with a change of horses at each stage.
Private coaches would typically make between 7 and 12mph, similarly with a change of horses every few miles.
Heyer gets this right specifically in The Toll-Gate, chapter 9:
"This letter must be written at once, if it's to catch the mail. What time does it leave Sheffield for London?"
"At six in the morning, I believe, sir..."
"When does the mail reach London?"
"I'm told they do the journey in sixteen-and-a-half hours now, sir. It should reach the General Post Office at about ten in the evening, though it hardly seems possible."
In Bath Tangle, Serena comments that the 12.5-mile trip from Bath to Bristol should be achievable in an hour for a chase-and-pair.
About 6-7mph for a day's riding, up to the dizzying heights of 17mph if you have a good horse which you don't mind exhausting after four hours or so.
Sherrie Holmes writes (of modern horses): "The average horse walks at 5mph, trots at 8-10mph, and canters around 15mph. Travelling at distance, a rider will mostly trot and walk, with the occasional canter for variety if terrain is good. The primary gait will be the trot if they are in a bit of a hurry. The trot can be maintained for some time without unduly stressing the horse. A short walk of 5 minutes or so, and the horse is ready to trot again."
...and which book should I lend first?
The short answer is: it depends on the friend. One of the virtues of Heyer's work is that she does not limit herself to a single style or mood, even in the romances. There are a few which are probably not a good introduction:
Roger would recommend any of Frederica, Sylvester, Venetia, The Grand Sophy, or Arabella.
Well, technically. The Reluctant Widow was filmed in 1951: see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043963/, though it's not at all close to the story of the book.
Arabella was filmed in German in 1959: see http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052624/. We are not aware of any list-member who's seen this film, though it's rumoured to be a very loose adaptation; there are some stills at http://cinema.msn.de/film_aktuell/filmdetail/film/?typ=inhalt&film_id=4942.
This classification is susceptible to long debate.
This book contains one of Heyer's few demonstrable historical errors: the Soho Foundry was in fact in Smethwick near Birmingham, not in London. (It was named after the earlier Soho Manufactory, which was in Soho itself - the one near Birmingham, again. Both were founded and run by Matthew Boulton.)
Of all the romances, this and The Spanish Bride are closest to being historical novels. There is a romance, to be sure, but there is also a great deal of detail about the Battle of Waterloo (to the extent that the novel was at one point considered recommended reading at Sandhurst).
There is a certain amount of difficulty with the dating of Devil's Cub versus An Infamous Army. Vidal is unmarried until the time of Devil's Cub (in 1780 or so), but An Infamous Army makes it clear that his first grandchild is born no later than 1778. This can only be considered an error on Heyer's part, though possibly a deliberate one.
Of all the romances, this and An Infamous Army are closest to being historical novels. There is a romance, in this case of historical characters, but broadly this is a novelisation of parts of the diaries of Harry Smith, an officer in the Peninsular Campaign.
During the road trip, Gareth travels quickly between St Neots and St Ives. This has been considered an error (there's a St Neot in Cornwall which is popularly considered to be close to the St Ives there), but in fact is not. Brenda Nettleship writes:
Heyer knows her stuff. It is St Neot in Cornwall not St Neots. It is at least 40 miles away from St Ives on Bodmin Moor. St Ives is on the Atlantic coast. St Neots in Cambridgeshire is only about 14 miles away from [the Cambridgeshire] St Ives.
and Miranda Bell pins the location:
The fork in the road at which Sir Gareth bears right is probably the one between two villages called Papworth Everard and Papworth St Agnes [on what is now the B1040].
See the detailed notes.
This story is available on-line at http://www.richmondreview.co.uk/library/heyer01.html. It was first published in The Queen's Book of the Red Cross in 1939/1940.
The Heyer list is no longer active; in December 2009 its members were transferred to the Almack's list.
It was started as a waiting-room for potential new members of the Heyer list. It now hosts some discussions from the former Heyer list as well. It can be found on Yahoogroups (at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/almacks/).
Originally it was a spin-off from the Heyer list, intended for light-hearted discussion. It continues to operate independently of the Heyer list.
There are archives at http://lists.firedrake.org/masquerade/; if you would like to join, contact Roger.