There are so many options now that we have the internet. But some sources are better than others!
I love the Regency time period. As I've taken my writing journey into this era, I've come across lots of authors who have said, "I'd love to write Regency, but the research scares me! I wouldn't know where to start." If the research is the only thing holding you back, you should know that there has never been a better time to write about the 19th century than in the 21st century. :-)
We have access to so many amazing documents and sources. I'm happy to share some of the best things I've found in my time writing. Keep in mind, though, that you need to do your best due-diligence. If your story hinges on a historical fact that a blogger mentions, dig a little deeper and confirm your source is correct.
Historical readers, yes, even those who read historical romance, have different expectations than people who read contemporary. They're reading historical for a reason, and one of those reasons is often the desire to know more about that time period and/or to immerse themselves in that period. You will often read, in negative reviews of historicals, that the readers hate it when something "pulls them out" of the story. This can be anything from using titles wrong (a sin of which I'm guilty, and repenting of), to having characters use modern language and slang, to having something show up in the story that hadn't been invented yet.
This isn't meant to scare you at all, but to reinforce how important it is for you to double-check your sources. Find beta-readers, or critique partners, or editors who are familiar with the genre and the time period. They'll help a lot. I can't tell you how many times my critique partners have helped me out by saying, "Um, that word wasn't actually used yet." Or the oh-so-helpful, "That weapon your bad guy is using? Yeah. That was invented forty years after your story."
Do. Your. Research. Please. Poorly researched stories get bad reviews. Simple as that.
One thing you might like to do is Follow my Regency Pinterest Board. I put lots of stuff up there as I find it for my own research, and I find following other authors helpful. Now, on to my list...
The Best Resource:
The British Newspaper Archive: It's a subscription based service, but if you're serious about historical fiction, it's invaluable. You can look up news articles clear back to the 1600's. I use it all the time for Regency books. You can read the news of the day when it was written. You can also get by without this. I waited until I had a lovely royalty payment to subscribe to this one.
Favorite Websites of General Information
Online Etymology: If you can get access to the Oxford English Dictionary through your library, do that. If you can't, like me, then this is a pretty great resource, too. You can look up when certain words entered the English language, where they came from, and how your character might've used them. Please look up the word ALLERGY. Note that it wasn't used until the 20th century. Promise me you will never use that word in a Regency novel.
Google Ngram Viewer: VERY USEFUL for a few reasons. You can look up when a word was in use if the etymology site fails you, and you can use it to look up specific subjects for find books written IN THE PERIOD. I used this a great deal when I was writing The Gentleman Physician. I had to find lots of things about diseases. I wound up reading medical texts published in the 1810's, which were incredibly helpful. I wanted my doctor to be smart enough to wash his hands, and I was able to find a Scottish doctor who was convinced washing his hands saved lives. He published his work in the late 1700's, but no one took him seriously.
The Jane Austen Centre: This group is associated with the Jane Austen museum in Bath and they have so much information on her life and the time period. Want to learn to play a Regency game? Have questions about clothing? This is a wonderful, accurate, respectable place to begin.
YouTube Regency Dances: As I said, Jane Austen enthusiasts have been around for ages. They actually get together and have BALLS, and then record them. :-) YouTube is your friend, if you want to describe these balls the right way.
RegencyDances.org: They describe the dance figures, steps, and even have a little animation to help you work out a few of the trickier scenarios.
The Beau Monde, an RWA Special Interest Chapter for Regency Authors: They have some GREAT stuff on this site, and it's available to anyone, not just RWA members.
Jane Austen fans have been on the internet almost as long as there has been an internet. Some of these Janeites are very, very, very dedicated. Insomuch that they have some of the most historically accurate personal websites and blogs out there. Here are a few of my favorite. For the most part, these bloggers include references, and if they don't, it's still usually easy to back-up what they state as truths universally acknowledged. ;-)
RegencyHistory.net: An older blog, still regularly updated, with LOTS of information and a handy search bar. They haven't steered me wrong yet.
Jane Austen's World: Absolutely priceless blog. They cover everything from Christmas to hairstyles. It's fantastic and I've lost hours of my life to reading their posts.
Nancy Meyer, Regency Researcher: This is a more simplistic list, but a great jumping-off point for a lot of my more in-depth research.
Donna Hatch's Blog: Donna is a Regency author who delights in research the way other people delight in chocolate. I love her blog. I love her books. She's fantastic. I've especially found her work helpful when I was going through holiday celebrations and mourning clothing.
Kristen Koster, Regency Primer: Kristen is another author, but not everything on her blog is research related. She has a category called "Regency Primer," and I've found it helpful when researching gentlemen especially.
Mending My Own Pen: A delightful blog where the writer breaks down Regency topics by studying them through Jane Austen's own characters. Everything form Loveless Marriages to landscape design. It hasn't been updated in a while, but what's still there is quite useful.
The Regency Redingote: Forgive this blog's harsh color scheme and you'll find the very best, and sometimes obscure, information on the time period. Hair brushes, mourning costumes, blood transfusions, birthdays... Lots of great stuff here.
Vintage Fashion Guild: Open to more than just the Regency period, there's great information here about what was worn and when.
Coming Soon... My Favorite Research Books
I write clean and sweet Historical Romance Novels, I live in the desert, I'm a mom of four, madly in love with my husband, and I love to read!
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Sally Britton's books on Goodreads
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