The best books for touring the unfamiliar corners of Regency England

Who am I?

I’ve loved the Regency era since first reading Jane Austen’s novels, but in writing my series of 19th-century adventure fantasies, I discovered there was so much more to the period than I’d ever dreamed. Though their culture and traditions aren’t like ours, I’m fascinated by how much about the lives of those men and women is familiar—the same desires, the same dreams for the future. I hope the books on this list inspire in you the same excitement they did in me!


I wrote...

Burning Bright

By Melissa McShane,

Book cover of Burning Bright

What is my book about?

In 1812, Elinor Pembroke wakes to find her bedchamber in flames—and extinguishes them with a thought. Her talent makes her a desirable match in Regency England, but rather than make a loveless marriage or live dependent on her parents, Elinor chooses to join the Royal Navy. Assigned to serve in the Caribbean, she turns her fiery talent on pirates preying on English ships. But as her power grows, Elinor’s ability to control it is challenged. Could her fire destroy her enemies at the cost of her own life?

The books I picked & why

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Jane Austen's England: Daily Life in the Georgian and Regency Periods

By Roy Adkins, Lesley Adkins,

Book cover of Jane Austen's England: Daily Life in the Georgian and Regency Periods

Why this book?

Any tour of Regency England needs to start with the familiar, and Jane Austen’s England provides an excellent overview of the geography, traditions, and politics of the period. Though the title says Jane Austen, I love how much detail it has on things Austen never wrote about, like childrearing and crime (especially counterfeiting, which you’ll have to read to believe!). Whether you read it cover to cover or search out interesting facts, this book has everything you need to start your journey.

Jane Austen's England: Daily Life in the Georgian and Regency Periods

By Roy Adkins, Lesley Adkins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jane Austen's England as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An authoritative account of everyday life in Regency England, the backdrop of Austen's beloved novels, from the authors of the forthcoming Gibraltar: The Greatest Siege in British History (March 2018)

Nearly two centuries after her death, Jane Austen remains the most cherished of all novelists in the English language, incomparable in the wit, warmth, and insight with which she depicts her characters and life. Yet the milieu Austen presents is only one aspect of the England in which she lived, a time of war, unrest, and dramatic changes in the country's physical and social landscape. Jane Austen's England offers a…


London: A View from the Streets

By Anna Maude,

Book cover of London: A View from the Streets

Why this book?

After getting a general idea of what Regency England was like, I recommend this slim little book produced in connection with the British Museum. It’s mostly reproductions of famous pictures and drawings, but for me it made the streets of London come alive. It’s great to read about the famous theaters at Covent Garden and Drury Lane, but so much better to see what they looked like at the height of their fame. And it saves you the cost of a trip to the British Museum!

London: A View from the Streets

By Anna Maude,

Why should I read it?

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


London - World City: 1800-1840

By Celina Fox (editor),

Book cover of London - World City: 1800-1840

Why this book?

Having gotten a taste of the sights of London, delve deeper with this exhibition guide packed with illustrations, paintings, and photographs of the things people owned and used during the Regency period and beyond. My favorite part of this book is the many essays contributed by leading historians who really know their stuff—everything you need to know about Regency art, architecture, science, and culture is right here.

London - World City: 1800-1840

By Celina Fox (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked London - World City as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This book provides a portrait of the city of London in a period when Britain enjoyed cultural, artistic, technological and material pre-eminence. It was a time when the foundations were laid for much later wealth and power. The importance of Britain in the early 19th century has been taken up by the Kulturstiftung Ruhur in Essen, who, in co-operation with the Museum of London have mounted an historical exhibition at the Villa Hugel near Essen (June-December 1992), for which this book serves as the catalogue. The exhibition itself is very broad in scope, ranging from artistic masterpieces by Turner and…


Regency Recollections: Captain Gronow's Guide to Life in London and Paris

By Christopher Summerville (editor),

Book cover of Regency Recollections: Captain Gronow's Guide to Life in London and Paris

Why this book?

So at this point, you’re steeped in all things Regency, and there’s so much to see, you need a native guide. Enter Captain Rees Gronow! Captain Gronow knew everyone who was worth knowing during the Regency, including the Prince Regent himself, and wrote memoirs that were witty and satirical and funny. This compilation of his writing gives the dirt on the rich and famous of Regency times, and if you want to know more about the places you’ve read about, chances are Gronow has something to say about them.

Regency Recollections: Captain Gronow's Guide to Life in London and Paris

By Christopher Summerville (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Captain Rees Howell Gronow was a dandy, a debtor, a duellist and a raconteur who lived the high life in Regency London and Paris. He was also a talented writer and his memoirs form the liveliest picture of Regency society ever produced.

A contemporary noted that Gronow 'committed the greatest follies, without in the slightest disturbing the points of his shirt collar.' An epitome of style, the personification of the man about town, he devoted his life to fashionable and exciting pursuits. And he lived in exciting times. He was a Waterloo veteran , knew the obnoxious Prince Regent, mixed…


The First English Detectives: The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London, 1750-1840

By J. M. Beattie,

Book cover of The First English Detectives: The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London, 1750-1840

Why this book?

Captain Gronow shed some light on the darker aspects of the Regency period, which was a time before law enforcement as we know it. But it wasn’t all bad—the Bow Street Runners were the start of a new era of policing. I was fascinated by the story of how these first detectives came to be and how much truth was behind the myth, especially since the myth has become a popular one for fiction writers in recent years.

The First English Detectives: The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London, 1750-1840

By J. M. Beattie,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the first comprehensive study of the Bow Street Runners, a group of men established in the middle of the eighteenth century by Henry Fielding, with the financial support of the government, to confront violent offenders on the streets and highways around London. They were developed over the following decades by his half-brother, John Fielding, into what became a well-known and stable group of officers who acquired skill and expertise in investigating crime,
tracking and arresting offenders, and in presenting evidence at the Old Bailey, the main criminal court in London. They were, Beattie argues, detectives in all but…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Regency, London, and Jane Austen?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Regency, London, and Jane Austen.

Regency Explore 61 books about Regency
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