Buried Under Romance welcomes Regan Walker today, for her novella The Twelfth Night Wager! Regan will be talking about widows in Regency England, so stay tuned for that. :)
** Regan will be awarding a copy of three (3) of her books, Racing with the Wind, The Holly and the Thistle and The Shamrock and the Rose to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.**
About the book:
“Speak of the devil,” said Lady Claremont.
The five women looked toward the doorway that led to the smaller book room. There on the threshold stood Eustace, in a dark blue coat over a white shirt and buff-colored breeches. Grace thought him very dashing. When his eyes focused on her, followed by a warm smile, her heart skipped.
She thought she heard Priscilla Wentworth let out a sigh. Apparently Eustace had made another conquest. How tiring it must be for him, she thought to herself, all those ladies falling at his feet. But even to herself, that sounded like jealousy.
He strode to their table, stopping along the way to greet other guests playing cards. When finally he reached them, he wished the group of five women good-day.
“How’s the card game going, ladies?”
“It’s not whist,” said the countess, “but ’twill do as it’s loo.” She chuckled at her own rhyme, and the ivory feather above her silver locks flicked in jaunty fashion. Emily rolled her eyes.
Eustace chuckled, too. “You look well settled into the game.”
“Have you just come from the fox-hunt?” Grace asked.
“I have. But you can be thankful I first cleaned off the mud. It’s positively soggy out there. Still, it was worth it; Ormond, Alvanley and I had a good run through the woods.”
“It sounds delightful,” said Emily. “I love the sounds of the bugle and the hounds eager to give chase to the wily fox. Did you catch him?”
“Sadly, yes. The end of the chase is always so…final, and somehow disappointing.”
Eustace’s words drew her attention and she noticed his serious expression. She had the feeling he wasn’t talking only about fox-hunts.
Widows in Regency England
There were many widows in Regency England. This was assured by the earlier war with France and the general mortality. Since my heroine in The Twelfth Night Wager, Grace, Lady Leisterfield, was a young widow, it was necessary for me to understand what was required of her in Regency England. So what did that mean for her clothing?
For a widow, the mourning period was one year. A period in which the woman set herself aside from society while still in its midst. She would not participate in social activities, nor could she marry within the first year (the main reason being to ensure she was not with child, which would put the identity of the child’s father in question). Her clothing would announce that she was a widow and in what stage of mourning.
In the first stage, or the first six months, black was the only acceptable color. Her black gowns would be made of bombazine, a heavy silk; crepe, a lightweight silk treated with no sheen; sarsnet, a soft fabric which might be silk; gossamer, a light sheer fabric; and velvet. Accessories might include a mourning bonnet, a black shawl, black gloves, a widow’s cap and perhaps a crepe veil. The only acceptable jewelry for full mourning was that of jet, black enamel, black glass, or amber.
Then, in the second stage, or the next six months (Lord Eustace remembers observing Grace at a ball dressed in gray), the widow could wear subdued grays, purples, lilacs, violet, lavender and brown, as well as white. (White was not the color brides wore in the Regency, and if a widow did marry during mourning, she would not wear mourning colors.) The subdued colors of “half mourning” were designed to help the woman transition to the colors of her regular clothing. For some, death was so common in an extended family that it might take some individuals years before they could safely abandon their mourning gowns.
When Queen Charlotte died in 1818 (half way through my story), the nobility went into full mourning. Hence, everyone in The Twelfth Night Wager is wearing black after that, though the social whirl of Regency London did not subside. Even the men wore the clothes of mourning. A man might be expected to wear a dark jacket black cravat, black or white shirt, black bordered handkerchief or armband, or a black ornament on his hat, but his life was not turned upside down like a woman’s, for he often wore black clothes as a matter of course. Beau Brummel made it his signature clothing, after all (and so did my hero, Hugh, the Marquess of Ormond, in Racing With The Wind).
Okay, so the heroine is in black or gray…when did she take the title “dowager?” Generally, widows did not have to be labeled “dowager” as in “Dowager Baroness of Leisterfield,” until the heir to the title married. In my story the heir is young David, so she did not have to don the title, and no young widow would want to as it suggested age.
***I enjoyed reading this novella and posted a review of it - to view, click here.
As a child Regan Walker loved to write stories, particularly about adventure-loving girls, but by the time she got to college more serious pursuits took priority. One of her professors thought her suited to the profession of law, and Regan realized it would be better to be a hammer than a nail. Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown” on its subjects. Hence her romance novels often involve a demanding Prince Regent who thinks of his subjects as his private talent pool.