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Secrets and Scandals in Regency Britain (Hardback)

Sex, Drugs and Proxy Rule

British History P&S History Georgian Era 18th Century

By Violet Fenn
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 216
Illustrations: 40 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399004268
Published: 8th March 2022

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This book takes an entertaining peek at the secrets and scandals of Regency Britain, a period in which the heir to the throne was making merry with his mistress whilst his ailing father attempted to keep a grip on both his crown and his finances. From Princess Caraboo to the Peterloo Massacre, the Regency was a period of immense upheaval in both personal and public lives as well as in politics. We’ll see how the advent of the modern media brought ‘spin’ to scandal and focus on stories of those people and events who encapsulated the age.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I strongly believe that there’s no such thing as reading too many books about a certain topic, especially when that topic involves historical scandals. I’m a simple person, you give me some gossip about people that have been dead for over a hundred years. I absolutely love reading about the Regency Era and this book definitely delivered – it was everything that I wanted it to be and then some.

I really love the way that this book was laid out, I’ve read another book by this author now and that one was just as well done, there’s a flow to the way the book goes that makes perfect sense without being completely linear. I also really like the way that everything is tied together, the author brings pieces of information together throughout the book and it makes it really fun to read. It’s also not dry at all. I read a lot of non-fiction and even if it’s a book that I love there’s usually a part or two where I’m like “Okay neat but can we get to the point a bit faster?” but there was none of that here.

Overall this was just a really well researched and well written book and I definitely learned a lot by reading it. I loved the writing so much that I immediately bought another book by the author and read it right away and I can’t wait to read more by them in the future.

NetGalley, Deanna Smith

With so many historical romance novels set during the Regency period one might get the impression the era was longer than it really was.

Yet, it remains one the most popular periods of history to read about or study, although it has been mythologized by lighter romantic stories featuring members of the Ton, and those proper Dukes, Viscounts, etc.

There are a few historical mystery series, though, that explore the darker aspects of this era in Britain- C.S. Harris's 'Sebastian St. Cyr' series, for one.

But, as far as nonfictional studies of the period, Violet Fenn takes us on a journey through Regency Britain that gives the reader a sobering look at some of the most disturbing events, laws, and crimes of the time.

I would say that much of what is written here is not well-known and there are many obscure stories that are odd, disgusting, and horrifying, while others are quirky, or sad, but always very interesting.

This is a short book, but is packed with brief pieces of history, highlighting the harshness of life during this time, the prison system, the treatment of women, the poverty, tragedies, and includes a few recognizable names, as well, painting a vivid enough portrait of Regency Britain to send one off to do more in depth studies.

Overall, a well-researched book, very organized, fast moving and interesting. If you think you know a thing or two about the Regency era based on romance novels or Netflix series, this book will probably surprise you. For those who prefer looking at the realistic aspects of history, this book will get you off to a great start.

4 stars

NetGalley, Julie Whiteley

I do enjoy a book written by author Violent Fenn, she writes a good and informative book with good humour and is easy to read. This book looks at various scandals during the regency period covering many different things especially around love, royalty, politics, crime, scandal and sex. The book is split into 25 chapters all of which are good entertaining reads with the excellent Fenn humour. The things that went on back in the regency period of Britain would be great for today’s media, or even better. An entertaining read I would heartily recommend.

Read the full review here

The History Fella

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is an interesting, informative and entertaining look at some of the scandals of the Regency period. The subject matter of course makes it a livelier read than your average history book, but the author also has a very engaging writing style, which makes it very readable. I enjoyed it very much.

NetGalley, Melanie Dolhun

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I absolutely loved this book. It is so well written and shows how much interest the author took in this topic. I wish I had this book in several classes during my college years. It inspired me to want to do more research on the topic and gave an excellent break down of the importance of the topic in our history. I love history but it’s so nice to learn about more than war and how these topics related to those times and the players behind the scenes.

NetGalley, April Fuchs

The scandals of today's British princes have nothing in comparison to the Regency period! This is a true, dark period of time-- child labor, women had no rights, men created armies to fight wars for rich men, and a few lived fabulous lives while the great majority did not. It was really interesting reading about true stories of Regency Britain. I love a regency historical novel, but this was a somber reminder that they are stories! Fenn writes in an interesting way that keeps the reader hooked. I'd love to see this made into a documentary as well!

NetGalley, Vanessa Stoner

A fun read, an interesting look into the scandals of the past. You find except for the names the scandals seem like they are from the headlines of today... We haven't changed much.

NetGalley, Heather Bennett

The book is an interesting eye opening to the relations of the monarchies and their behavior during the regency period during 1700-1800. There were plenty examples describing the story of poverty and hunger of the people. It seems that the monarchy was living large and having scandalizing affairs. This is provided in an array of examples which are written with quotes and some humor..

It is clear from reading the amount of time and research that was done in order to provide the details of each chapter providing an example and description of behavior of a specific monarch and in some cases their children..

NetGalley, Andrea latish

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wow, I had no idea how...rough regency England was until I got my hands on this book. The author shows (with great examples) the poverty, the penal system, the hunger, the drugs, and the general repression of the population. While we think regency England is quite glamorous due to the portrayal of the regency romance, this book gives another viewpoint altogether, and sadly a more accurate one.

However, the author also includes info about the "richer," upper-class folks and their lives. It's a really well-done piece that encompasses many different classes and gives examples, quotes, and anecdotes to truly show how they lived.

NetGalley, Alexandra DiBacco

An interesting, well written, and informative book about an age which is famous for romance but less for the number of scandals.
I had fun and found it entertaining.
Recommended.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

A whistle stop tour through the highs and lows of Regency England.
The author touches on the harsh penal system, the poverty and hunger faced by so many. Such a background was the catalyst for radical thinking and action. Unfortunately, the state and particularly the monarchy were keen to keep the status quo, ensuring brutal repression.

The behaviour of the monarchy and particularly the Prince Regent, made them deeply unpopular with the country. Not that they seemed to care.

The personal lives of the Royal family, were frequently scandalous. Prinny, the Prince Regent seemed to aim for excess in all areas of his life.

We are also given vignettes on the lives of the notorious or celebrated (often the same person).

The author combines a witty and sardonic turn of phrase, with beautifully chosen quotes.
When talking about Byron, the first celebrity to get fanmail she writes “Byron’s wife Annabella Milbanke coined the phrase ‘Byromaniacs’for those women who obsessed over her husband”

This is a highly entertaining read and I’m happy to recommend it!

NetGalley, Gill Murgatroyd

An interesting read on some of the various scandals in Britain. The stories are a quick read, and will hold your interest. If you enjoy these types of stories, this is the book for you!

NetGalley, Ron Baumer

‘Secrets and Scandals in Regency Britain’ is a fast paced and entertaining, yet well written and clearly well researched book introducing readers to some of the juicier bits of Regency England’s history. An excellent book to whet the appetite of anyone looking for the personalities behind the names and dates they might find in a ‘dry’ history tome, this is clearly written not only to educated and inform but to hook the reader into wanting to learn more. Chapters are brief and cover everything from the Peterloo Massacre and the shocking (by today’s standards) approaches to alcoholism and drug abuse to the scandals of George III’s children, Lord Byron, Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft and her daughter, among others. This was the most I’ve ever read about the affair between Nelson and Lady Hamilton and definitely has me ready to read more. Fortunately Violet Fenn includes a bibliography to get us started once we’re hooked.

Humorous yet empathetic, personal while still showing how individual cases describe the Regency overall, this is an excellent choice to start off those who know little about the time period, or to interest those who have yet to find history fascinating. And a fun read for those who are already familiar with the time period and its movers and shakers. There is always something new to discover.

NetGalley, Anne Morgan

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Intriguing and detailed insights into a fascinating time in British history, the author does an amazing job breathing life into the era. Covering a wide breadth of topics, some more famous that others, this book cleverly weaves in facts, figures and legislation with the social aspects to truly tell a story. Absolutely loved this as a social history with more.

NetGalley, Louise Gray

As featured in

The Bookseller

About Violet Fenn

VIOLET FENN has always been fascinated by history and human behaviour. She specialises in lighthearted and entertainingly straightforward investigations into the changing cultural attitudes towards sex and mortality. Her previous titles include Sex and Sexuality in Victorian Britain and A History of the Vampire in Popular Culture. She was once turned down for a job as an undertaker's assistant for being 'too interested in death’.


Violet lives in Shropshire with her children, a menagerie of pets and a lot of beautiful yet ultimately pointless clutter. She firmly believes that black is the happiest colour, properly ground coffee is a basic human right and that there is no such thing as too much red lipstick. To find out more, visit sexdeathrocknroll.com.

Perfect Partner

Sex and Sexuality in Georgian Britain (Paperback)

Peek beneath the bedsheets of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Britain in this affectionate, informative and fascinating look at sex and sexuality during the reigns of Georges I-IV. It examines the prevailing attitudes towards male and female sexual behaviour, and the ways in which these attitudes were often determined by those in positions of power and authority. It also explores our ancestors’ ingenious, surprising, bizarre and often entertaining solutions to the challenges associated with maintaining a healthy sex life. Did the people in Georgian Britain live up to their stereotypes…

By Mike Rendell

Click here to buy both titles for £34.99
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