Saturday, July 20, 2013

Regency Mourning by Christy English

by Christy English

In my new romance, Love on a Midsummer Night, I have my leading lady rediscovering the love of her life at her elderly husband's funeral. I realize now that this scene is a bit of a misnomer. Outside the world of my stylized version of Regency England, well-bred women did not attend funerals.

Ladies and their sensibilities were considered too delicate to experience the rigors of public grief. With the dead being buried soon after they passed, grief was fresh, and the stress of a funeral were considered too overwhelming for gentlewomen to suffer through.

Depending on how close the relationship was to the deceased, a subscribed period of mourning would set in, a year for a wealthy widow. For the first six months, a grieving widow of the ton would be expected to wear only black. Once the mourning period was half over, the lady might revert to gray and purples, but still could not wear most colors.

Once more, in my fanciful version of Regency England, Arabella, the widow in my novel, left off wearing mourning less than a month after her husband's death. Whereas this would have been a serious scandal for a well-born woman in Victorian England, it was slightly more permissible in 1818. During this time, some women did remarry soon after the death of their husbands primarily for financial reasons.

Of course, my leading lady is a duchess, so her quick remarriage is considered more than a little shocking.

One thing I have realized while perusing the fashion plates from 1818, ladies who wore mourning still wanted to look good. Clearly, propriety and public grief did not have to ruin a woman's fashion sense.

For more information, please follow these links:


Christy English is obsessed with Eleanor of Aquitaine, Paris, France and Regency England, and is the author of the historical novels The Queen's Pawn and To Be Queen as well as the Regency romances How To Tame a Willful Wife and Love on a Midsummer Night. Please visit her on her blog at

1 comment:

  1. Really interesting post; unlike your Arabella, my own character, Dowager Duchess Constance, is *still* in mourning after 34 years - talk about being at the opposite extreme!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.