The random—and not so random—musings of a quirky Regency romance writer.
No one with that many people in her head can possibly be normal...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

~Regency Wednesday~ The Season

What Regency romance would be complete without a heroine enjoying a London Season? And yet, there may be some confusion surrounding exactly what a "Season" was and why it was so important.

It occurred the same time that Parliament was in session. Some families returned just after Christmas so the gentleman could get ready for Parliament. But the Season was actually from May to July. It was during these three months that the head-spinning round of balls, dinners, and other social events took place, as well as sporting events, art exhibits, and court presentation. The annual exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art was in May. Two huge sporting events, for which Parliament adjourned, was the Derby and Ascot in May or June. The Henley Regatta and various cricket matches were in July. The Season ended August 12 in anticipation of the grouse hunting season. Parliament adjourned and families returned to their country estates or hunting boxes, or visited the homes or hunting boxes of friends or family.

The London Season was essential for a young woman of good family if she desired to make a suitable match. A young lady was not officially "out" until she'd been presented to the queen, usually around the age of 17 or 18. After that, she was allowed to attend balls and breakfasts, dinners and routs, the opera and the theater, as well as any number of dances and other social gatherings. It was her job to attract the eye of a suitable spouse, preferably in her first Season. If she did not, she had one or two more Seasons in which to do so. After that, she was considered a failure and once she reached her late 20s, a spinster.

*Picture is a satirical representation of the London Season, printed in Harper's Bazaar in 1870. It is in the public domain. Click the graphic for more info.
**Further reading: What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool.


Amy DeTrempe said...

Great article. I am enjoying your Regency Wednesdays, I just don't think I have ever commented. I always thought the Season didn't have an exact start date but when Parliment was back in session, right after Easter and since Easter can be in March or April, I thought that is when the season was determined.

Jaimey Grant said...

Hi Amy! I think you've commented on a few other posts before. More than once, your comments have made me think. I am very pleased that you enjoy my ~Regency Wednesday~ posts. Just knowing that even one person does, makes it worth the effort. Thank you.

Regarding the valid point you have raised, the few weeks or months that the families were in town before May was sometimes referred to as the Little Season. There were balls and parties just like the real Season but they weren't the "sad crush" that so many hostesses desired. The big events that really drew in the crowds (other than Parliament) were the art exhibits, horse races and other sporting events that occurred from May-July.

I admit, I thought the same thing you did. I thought the dates weren't really clear. I have been guilty of guessing in my own novels. It is something I'm being more careful about in future ones.

Thank you for your comment and thanks for stopping by. Have a lovely day!

Jaimey Grant said...

And upon further investigation, I'm not sure the "Little Season" was ever given a name, per se. And some stayed in London throughout the year.


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