The best books for researching the Georgian era

Why am I passionate about this?

Ever since watching the BBC adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, I’ve been fascinated by the Georgian era. At university I always chose modules that connected with the period, which typically focused on the works of Keats, Byron and Shelley. One module introduced me to the essayist William Hazlitt, and my first novel Infelice drew on his illicit love affair with serving girl Sarah Walker. My début Pandora is vastly different, but both novels required a plethora of research. The books I’ve chosen all helped me bring my writing to life, and I hope aspiring novelists with a passion for the Georgians will find these as useful as I have.


I wrote...

Book cover of Pandora

What is my book about?

London, 1799. Dora Blake is an aspiring jewellry artist who lives with her uncle in what used to be her parents' famed shop of antiquities. When a mysterious Greek vase is delivered, Dora is intrigued by her uncle's suspicious behaviour and enlists the help of Edward Lawrence, a young antiquarian scholar. Edward sees the ancient vase as the key to unlocking his academic future. Dora sees it as a chance to restore the shop to its former glory, and to escape her nefarious uncle.

But what Edward discovers about the vase has Dora questioning everything she has believed about her life, her family, and the world as she knows it. As Dora uncovers the truth she starts to realise that some mysteries are buried, and some doors are locked, for a reason.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain

Susan Stokes-Chapman Why did I love this book?

A cultural tour de force, this book includes everything you could ever wish to know about the Georgian era, although it does specifically stick to its latter years (1789-1830). It is a deeply informative read yet the author maintains a lively and engaging tone throughout as he covers a wide range of topics such as the landscape of Regency Britain, travel, law and order, as well as entertainment, health, and sexuality, so it’s just perfect for any reader unfamiliar with the period. In fact, it’s perfect for anyone who already is. Established writers of the genre will surely pick up something new by reading it.

By Ian Mortimer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Excellent... Mortimer's erudition is formidable' The Times

A time of exuberance, thrills, frills and unchecked bad behaviour...Ian Mortimer turns to what is arguably the most-loved period in British history - the Regency, or Georgian England.

This is the age of Jane Austen and the Romantic poets; the paintings of John Constable and the gardens of Humphry Repton; Britain's military triumphs at Trafalgar and Waterloo. It was perhaps the last age of true freedom before the arrival of the stifling world of Victorian morality.

And like all periods in history, it was an age of many contradictions - where Beethoven's thundering…


Book cover of The Secret History of Georgian London

Susan Stokes-Chapman Why did I love this book?

On the other side of the coin, there is this behemoth of a book. I’d be lying if I said that its sheer size and tightly-packed text weren’t slightly off-putting, but I consider Cruickshank’s formidable work a must-have for any novelist writing in the Georgian era. Impeccably researched and showing a wide range of social history from the lives of ordinary layman to the wealthy and powerful, it's a truly fantastic resource, and if you’re looking to familiarise yourself with the 'dirty underbelly' of eighteenth-century London (a whole world away from shiny Bridgerton-esque ballrooms and stately homes) then this is absolutely the book for you.

By Dan Cruickshank,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Secret History of Georgian London as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Georgian London evokes images of elegant buildings and fine art, but it was also a city where prostitution was rife, houses of ill repute widespread, and many tens of thousands of people dependent in some way or other on the wages of sin. The sex industry was, in fact, a very powerful force indeed, and in The Secret History of Georgian London, Dan Cruickshank compellingly shows how it came to affect almost every aspect of life and culture in the capital.

Examining the nature of the sex trade, he offers a tantalising insight into the impact of prostitution to give…


Book cover of Georgian Jewellery 1714-1830

Susan Stokes-Chapman Why did I love this book?

Dora Blake—the protagonist in my bookis an aspiring jewellery designer, which meant it was imperative I understood not just how jewellery looked but how it was made. This book ticks both those boxes and more. Not only is it filled with beautiful photographs to make your inner magpie tingle with excitement, it tells the reader a history of how jewellery was fashioned, what was worn in the daytime and evening, as well as the significance of certain gems for certain occasions. Learn all about cut steel, foiled backs, and harlequin jewels, the language of flowers, memento mori, cameos, and lover’s eyes, all delivered in a wonderfully accessible conversational tone. A truly fascinating book that is also a feast for the eyes!

By Ginny Redington Dawes, Olivia Collings,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Georgian Jewellery 1714-1830 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Georgian Jewellery is a celebration of the style and excellence of the eighteenth century, and of the ingenuity that produced such a wealth of fabulous jewellery.

Heavy academic tomes have already been written about the period, but this book examines it in a more colourful and accessible way. The book aims to show that Georgian jewellery is not only the stuff of museums and safe boxes, but that it can be worn as elegantly and fashionably today as it was 200 years ago.

Much disparate information about the jewellery has been gathered together and the period is brought alive by…


Book cover of Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England

Susan Stokes-Chapman Why did I love this book?

It’s all in the details. No matter what social circle a Georgian man and woman lived in, knowing how each functioned within their inner circle is key to creating fully fleshed-out worlds. Vickery uses archival material such as diaries, ledgers, letters, court trials, and other sources to show how the Georgians lived in the comfort (or discomfort) of their own homes, and, interestingly, how this also had an effect on their lives outside the home. The author even provides the reader with an insight into how their homes actually looked, from furniture and portraits, right down to textiles and wallpaper. 

By Amanda Vickery,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Behind Closed Doors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this brilliant new work, Amanda Vickery unlocks the homes of Georgian England to examine the lives of the people who lived there. Writing with her customary wit and verve, she introduces us to men and women from all walks of life: gentlewoman Anne Dormer in her stately Oxfordshire mansion, bachelor clerk and future novelist Anthony Trollope in his dreary London lodgings, genteel spinsters keeping up appearances in two rooms with yellow wallpaper, servants with only a locking box to call their own. Vickery makes ingenious use of upholsterer's ledgers, burglary trials, and other unusual sources to reveal the roles…


Book cover of The Georgians: The Deeds and Misdeeds of 18th-Century Britain

Susan Stokes-Chapman Why did I love this book?

At first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking this is rather similar to Dan Cruickshank’s Georgian London considering its title. However, this book takes a modern comparative view of the era, considering how people of the time mimic the attitudes of people today. History oft-times repeats itself, and Corfield’s book is an incredibly nuanced take on this viewpoint yet still succeeds in being a thoroughly pleasurable read. Fiction nowadays not only seeks to tell a story but aims as well to tell us something about the world we live in, and this is no less true than historical fiction—it is why books like this are so crucial to a writer’s research.

By Penelope J. Corfield,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Georgians as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A comprehensive history of the Georgians, comparing past views of these exciting, turbulent, and controversial times with our attitudes today

The Georgian era is often seen as a time of innovations. It saw the end of monarchical absolutism, global exploration and settlements overseas, the world's first industrial revolution, deep transformations in religious and cultural life, and Britain's role in the international trade in enslaved Africans. But how were these changes perceived by people at the time? And how do their viewpoints compare with attitudes today?

In this wide-ranging history, Penelope J. Corfield explores every aspect of Georgian life-politics and empire,…


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By Amy T. Waldman, Peter Jest,

Book cover of We Had Fun and Nobody Died: Adventures of a Milwaukee Music Promoter

Amy T. Waldman

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What is my book about?

This irreverent biography provides a rare window into the music industry from a promoter’s perspective. From a young age, Peter Jest was determined to make a career in live music, and despite naysayers and obstacles, he did just that, bringing national acts to his college campus atUW-Milwaukee, booking thousands of concerts across Wisconsin and the Midwest, and opening Shank Hall, the beloved Milwaukee venue named after a club in the cult film This Is Spinal Tap.

Jest established lasting friendships with John Prine, Arlo Guthrie, and others, but ultimately, this book tells a universal story of love and hope…

We Had Fun and Nobody Died: Adventures of a Milwaukee Music Promoter

By Amy T. Waldman, Peter Jest,

What is this book about?

The entertaining and inspiring story of a stubbornly independent promoter and club owner 

This irreverent biography provides a rare window into the music industry from a promoter’s perspective. From a young age, Peter Jest was determined to make a career in live music, and despite naysayers and obstacles, he did just that, bringing national acts to his college campus at UW–Milwaukee, booking thousands of concerts across Wisconsin and the Midwest, and opening Shank Hall, the beloved Milwaukee venue named after a club in the cult film This Is Spinal Tap.

This funny, nostalgia-inducing book details the lasting friendships Jest established…


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