The Women of the Regency: A “Revolution… Almost Beyond Expression”

March 14, 2022

 

The Regency is often associated with the military triumphs of the Duke of Wellington, the poetry of Lord Byron, the paintings of J. W. M. Turner, and the scientific innovations of George Stephenson and Charles Babbage. But women too played a decisive if often overlooked role in this remarkable period. In this recording of a live talk held on March 14th 2022, Professor Robert Morrison explores the vital ways in which women shaped the social, cultural, and intellectual world of the British Regency (1811-1820). Elizabeth Fry made enduring reforms to the penal system. The diarist Anne Lister recorded in code her joyous experience of same-sex love. Comedians like Dorothy Jordan and tragedians like Sarah Siddons packed the theatres. Countess Lieven, Princess Esterhazy, and Lady Caroline Lamb were prominent socialites close to political power. Francis Burney, Maria Edgeworth, Susan Ferrier, and Hannah More were among the era’s most popular novelists. Mary Shelley published the gothic horrors of Frankenstein in 1818. Most significantly, Jane Austen published all six of her novels in the Regency, including Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both of which are set in Bath. * Robert Morrison studied at the University of Lethbridge; the University of Oxford; and the University of Edinburgh. Currently he is British Academy Global Professor at Bath Spa University and Queen’s National Scholar at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

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