Stew (see scurvy)

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Thu Dec 18 06:22:24 EST 2003


Robyn asked:

>What's your view on Heyer? All her biographers go on about how meticulous
>her research is. It's not my period, so I can't nitpick her.

I understand that the devoted ladies (and gentlemen) of the Heyer list have
so far caught I think it's two almost-certain errors in her Regency-period
work; there may be others.  The one that causes sorrow to many is her
insistence that people in her books announce their engagements to be
married by putting an advertisement into the London newspapers, and nobody
has managed to find a single example of this having been done in any London
paper of the period, ever, by anyone, apparently.

There *are* occasional typoes, and there is one gentleman whose name is
initially given as "Carlington Carlington" and who is later addressed as
"Charles" and "Granville", but consensus seems to blame the publisher
rather than Heyer herself for this.

I have never noticed her to have committed any really glaring blunders on
matters of period *detail*.  That the entire world her characters inhabit
is utterly fictitious, with world-views and attitudes somewhat more like
those of the early 20th than the early 19th cantury, and related to this
world only by having the right people on the thrones of various countries
and important events happening in the chronologically "correct" places, is
a different thing altogether; if you are prepared to buy into that world at
all, I think the rest is pretty reliable.  Whenever someone questions
something, somebody else always seems able to produce a precedent for it as
being known at the time, or in use then, or something of that nature.

Whether it was meticulous or not her research seems to have been exhaustive
-- notebooks and notebooks full of garnered factual detail of the period --
and exasperating, because since it was for her own reference she didn't
bother to note sources for any of her information, which would make it
pretty-much worthless to anyone else, really, in many ways.  It also means
it is unpublishable, because it would be impossible to make any
acknowledgement of sources, and if any were still in copyright that could
be downright awkward.

Which is a shame, because it would be interesting even if it can't be "sourced".

Minnow


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