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The Real Bridgerton (Hardback)

P&S History > British History > Georgian History P&S History > By Century > 18th Century P&S History > Social History

By Catherine Curzon
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 16 mono
ISBN: 9781399082402
Published: 6th April 2023

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£20.00


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As millions of viewers across the globe thrill to the assembly room exploits of the Bridgerton family and wait with bated breath for Lady Whistledown’s latest despatch from Almack’s, scandal has never been so delicious. In a world where appearances were everything and gossip was currency, everyone had their price.

From a divorce case that hinged on a public demonstration of masturbation to the irresistible exploits of the New Female Coterie, via the Prince Regent’s dropped drawers and Lady Hamilton’s diaphanous unmentionables, The Real Bridgerton pulls back the sheets on the eighteenth century’s most outrageous scandals. Within these pages Lord Byron meets his match, the richest commoner in England falls for a swindler with a heart of stone, and forbidden love between half-siblings leaves a wife and her children reeling.

Behind the headlines and the breathless whispers in Regency ballrooms were real people living real lives in a tumultuous, unforgiving era. The fall from the very pinnacle of society to the gutter could be as quick as it was brutal. If you thought that Bridgerton was as shocking as the Georgians got, it’s time to think again.

It is a well-documented presentation of the people who made it into the gossip columns in the Regency era. Even though it is non-fiction, it is so juicy and compelling to read that I just couldn't put it down.

NetGalley, Oana-Maria Uliu

Hear Catherine on Charlie Higson's podcast here

Apple Podcasts

This was an accessible and engaging run through some of the most scandalous episodes of the Georgian period which, judging by the number of sources quoted, is also thoroughly researched.

NetGalley, Melanie Dolhun

The stories collected here include the magnificently outrageous divorce case that required the Duke of Beaufort to disprove his wife’s allegation of impotence by masturbating
before witnesses. The Bolingbroke family ran
the Beauforts a close second in the scandal
stakes – the marriage of ‘Bully’ Bolingbroke
and the first Lady Diana Spencer was marked
by infidelity and cruelty and ended in a bitter
divorce. Lady Di married again, and the twin
daughters from her second marriage both
decided to keep family ties close. One married
her first cousin, and the other fell in love
with her half-brother and bore him four sons
before he abandoned her for a 17-year-old
Austrian baroness.
Curzon packs an enormous amount of
scurrilous information into just 130 pages:
this is popular history at its headline-grabbing
best.

Jane Austen's Regency World

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

If you are a fan of Bridgerton and historical romance then this is for you. A well researched and well written book, Catherine Curzon definitely knows her Georgian era. This is a fun book to read, full of gossipy tidbits and scandalous behaviour from the upper classes. Curzon paints a broad picture of both rich and poor and the Society in which they lived.
The rules of this Society were stringent in terms of how women were expected to behave and touches on the relative invisibility of that gender. Overall a very entertaining read and my thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review The Real Bridgerton. Top marks

NetGalley, Carol Elizabeth Keogh

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I found this book to be full of fun facts and gossip. Being a fan of Bridgerton, I wanted to know what the season was like in reality and this book did not disappoint. I had no idea that Lady Whistledown was based on a real gossip column that was released to the ton. A very fun, gossipy read for any fan of Bridgerton.

NetGalley, Stacy Mawhorter

We like to think that the scandalous behavior we see in the Netflix series, Bridgerton, is the folly of a writer's imagination (specifically that of Julia Quinn, author of the book series). But fiction so often can't hold a candle to the truth.

Author Catherine Curzon does a deep dive in Britain's lascivious history and shares a number titillating tidbits that sometimes make Bridgerton seem quite tame by comparison.

Nobility in the Georgian era appeared to have a strong libido - for anyone other than their partners. There were lots of rumors and lots of suspicions of adulterous behavior, but Curzon does a fine job with backing up much of this book with historical documentation. This comes primarily from newspaper accounts and legal trials ... husbands and wives would go to court to 'prove' infidelity (which was often the testimony of maids and servants as to seeing or hearing someone visiting rooms late at night) and the more prominent the persons the more the newspapers would report on the proceedings. Today's U.S. politicians buying time with porn stars or luring interns into bed isn't anything new.

This is a quick, well-written, well-researched read and I suspect only touches the surface (certainly the more prominent figures) of the illicit pastime for Britain's noteworthy. And, just as there is Lady Whistledown in Bridgerton, there was a Mrs. Crackenthorpe, who published The Female Tatler, for less than a year between 1709 and 1710 and the thrice weekly, The Tatler, published by Isaac Bickerstaff, Esq. which reported on society news and gossip.

Each of the subjects reported on here was sufficiently interesting and could probably worthy of having their own book, but I did appreciate the brevity, keeping it interesting and moving on. Even so, they began to sound the same. 'He' (insert royal title and name) has affairs with women (who probably like his power or status. His wife begins to have affairs and he gets upset.

One that does stand out as being a bit different was Anne Lister (b. 1791) who is considered to be the first modern lesbian and was in the first lesbian marriage (1834) in Britain.

Looking for a good book? Fans of Bridgerton or any kind of sexual 'scandal' should find The Real Bridgerton, by Catherine Curzon, a quick, entertaining read.

NetGalley, Daniel Munson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The Real Bridgerton is a juicy, interesting read! The regency period was a wild, wild time and I was entertained throughout this whole read! I would say you could not make this stuff up but I do read a lot of regency fiction, but this is amazing that these were real-life people creating all this chaos in a time that you think is refined and dignified at all times.
The Real Bridgerton is well-researched, well-written and very enjoyable. I plan on getting it on audiobook when it's available in the US, it would be great read as an audiobook if you're too busy or don't enjoy reading historical non-fiction. I hope someone makes a documentary as well, there's a lot of material to work with!
Very interesting book that I'd recommend to history lovers or historical fiction fans that want to hear about the real-life counterparts of their fictional characters.

NetGalley, Vanessa Stoner

Hear Catherine Curzon on Dan Snow's podcast: 'The Story of England: The Industrial Revolution'

History Hit

This book is full of juicy gossip, jaw dropping scandals, and newspaper worthy events in the Georgian era! I was on the edge of my seat with each new story and characters (or reoccurring characters!) that were on the page. History is something I love to read but it can be dry or difficult to grasp. This is definitely not that. The shocking stories of the past were engaging, surprising and reflective of the culture they lived in. It was a hard world for women in horrible marriages and the children who saw how their mothers suffered. This all came through with juicy stories and interesting characters that showed us the reality of the aristocracy. This is a definite read!

NetGalley, Naomi Sutherland

In The Real Bridgerton, Catherine Curzon explores the many scandals and wild characters from the eighteenth century. Across the English nobility, Curzon provides an enjoyable, raunchy, and outrageous perspective of the incidents and social scandals that her historical figures would have wanted swept under the rug. Providing a new and accessible perspective to the eighteenth century and Regency period a la Bridgerton, Curzon launches her reader immediately into the thick of the period, exploring a host of scandals (major and minor), divorces, dramas, and everything in between. Covering a wide swath of history in short, accessible vignette chapters, Curzon’s prose is to the point yet full of detail, and she immaculately translates the real drama of it all into prose for the reader. Her book serves as an excellent entry point for new history readers and fans who want the action of history without the long build up and biography. The narratives are fascinating and engaging, and Curzon deftly handles multiple short narratives over the course of the book. Overall, Curzon creates an engaging book composed of a variety of short narratives, all of which attract the reader’s attention and draw them into the eighteenth century.

NetGalley, Lily Amidon

Find author Catherine Curzon in 'All About History', talking about Anne Lister (Gentleman Jack)

All About History, May 2023

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was a wonderful read that definitely rivaled Lady Whistledown's gossip. I was so excited to receive a copy and be able to read about the real history. This was a delightful read and it would make a wonderful gift for friends.

NetGalley, Sharon Falardeau

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Brilliantly well written, this book will tell you some of the scandals of the Georgian Court both humorous and poignant.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the Georgian period or Court history in general.

NetGalley, Emma Potter

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Loved this book! This selection of juicy Georgian stories are well chosen and definitely worth re-reading. Lady Whistledown has nothing on this lot.

NetGalley, If It Ain’t Baroque History

The tidbits in this book would rival any of Lady Whistledown's despatches. However, these are real events that take place during the times covered in the Bridgerton books. And it remains that real life can be stranger--and more scandalous--than fiction.

It is very easy to read and flows along like any gossip magazine. Dry history this is not and it is not bogged down by in depth analysis. For that is not what this is trying to be. Entertaining and informative as well.

NetGalley, Juliane Silver

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I loved this look at the real people and era that inspired the hit show Bridgerton. The author has put together a compilation of real scandals from regency era Britain and some of them make the show seem staid and placed in compare! What these people got up to back then! I am not giving any spoilers so you will just have to read this book yourselves if you want to know. You won't be sorry once you do.
This contains several short stories and anecdotes about the scandals of the time, info gotten from scandal sheets, newspapers, court transcripts and more. Some you may have already known, but there are many you won't, all are interesting and most made me ask, what in the world were they really thinking when they did that? Some I just don't get what drove them to act the way they did? Boredom? I have no idea, but it is quite a riot reading about the aristocratic behaviors of what was deemed "polite society" which as it turns out wasn't so polite at all!
I recommend this book and give 5 stars! It is non-fiction but reads as easily as fiction, you can breeze through in one sitting or break it up and read a scandal here and there.

NetGalley, Lori Harris

This book guides us through a century of aristocratic scandals, covering both stories that are well-known today and others that have faded from public memory, discussing adultery, murder, and even incest.

I read an awful lot of historical romance, and many Regency romances use the plot device of social ruin being carried around town by scandal sheets. Having read this book though, I am rather astonished that these fictional scandals managed to shock anyone at all, considering what the aristocracy was really getting up too!

The author recounts about twenty-five stories, with a few additional vignettes here and there, about a plethora of rich people behaving badly. Some figures discussed, such as Caroline Lamb and Emma Hamilton, are well-known to me, but Curzon added enough new details that I still found myself interested. The majority of the stories I had never heard of, which shocked me considering how strange and sensational some of them were.

The author recounts each story with enough detail to get a clear picture of the rather tangled social connections of everyone involved and explanations of what made these scandals so beyond the pale during the time period.

NetGalley, Pooja Peravali

This was a great read! I've been a fan of the Regency period for years now and with Bridgerton coming out on Netflix it's been exciting to see more light being shed on the time period. The writing style was really accessible and it felt like a conversation rather than text on the page. If you also enjoy learning about this era then pick this book up!

NetGalley, Sophie Nicholson

It was a very fun read. It's easy to dip in and out of with the short stories. If you're looking for a non-fic that feels like a regency romance novel, definitely check this out!

NetGalley, Nicole Caratas

Entertaining and fast-paced, this is a short collection of scandals across the Georgian era. Told in vignettes of generally only a few pages, these scandals cover everyone from the Prince of Wales to Anne Lister, and a good chunk of the aristocracy in between. You can be forgiven for wondering how anyone got anything accomplished for all the bed hopping going on- although occasionally the 'scandals' of the time are the occasional strong willed woman wealthy enough to live life on her own terms.

Readers who know anything about history of this era will already know some of these stories, but there are plenty in here that will be unfamiliar to the general reader, keeping things interesting along the way.

NetGalley, Anne Morgan

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Great book about the real lives of those who lived in the Regency era. Although the Bridgerton series is loosely based on the actual facts during this time period, this book is the facts. From scandalous tales and bedroom whispers this book has all and more than you would expect. Actual people living lives that were caught up in everyday drama based on facts. This author did a wonderful job of documenting what some of us would believe that is could be far fetch but actually all true.

NetGalley, Sandra Rogaskie

The Real Bridgerton by Catherine Curzon takes a look at the real life scandals and intrigues of Georgian Britain. The title is pretty apt as a lot of the stories in this book would make Bridgerton seem like a chaste regency romance. It is pretty extraordinary what people got up to: incest and masturbation admitted as evidence in court are just a couple of the incidents that come to mind.

The mix of single paragraph incidents and longer stories give it a coffee table feel and I liked dipping in and out of it., very much like sticking my hand into the biscuit jar and pulling out a sordid bit of gossip.

What I found most interesting was the source material; the book is filled with quotations from scandal sheets, court transcripts, newspapers and memoirs from the time. Its such a fascinating way to see these stories and shows that gossip and scandal are not modern concepts at all.

At the heart of this gossip and intrigue are real people with real issues and problems, not dissimilar to the struggles that people have today and they are not lost here. You are left thinking about people like Caroline Lamb and Anne Lister: people attempting to live life on their own terms with any failure ridiculed in the penny sheets.

NetGalley, Helen Jaidy

'This is a romp through more than a century of scandal, told through twenty-five tales that all have one thing in common: though they might sometimes seem stranger than fiction, they are entirely true.'

Hot off the heels of the popular Netflix series, 'Bridgerton', Catherine Curzon delivers us a compendium of scintillating and salacious vignettes of Georgian scandal. Running the gamut of adultery, polyamory, marrying out of rank, and divorce, there are scandalous examples. Some tales end happily ever after, some of the scorned seek revenge and some, mostly women, end up shunned. To help the reader fully digest and comprehend her work, Curzon includes a timeline of pertinent events, a glossary of terms as well pictures, and class definitions.

You might think Georgians to be as closed off and uptight as their corsets, however, the saying, 'the devil makes work for idle hands', never seems more apt for these outrageous escapades. And, not one character ever seemed particularly remorseful for the indignation they caused. When Lady Caroline was obstructed from joining the famed Almack's, due to her questionable behaviour, she simply created a counter group, The New Female Coterie, which held their meetings in a brothel and welcomed, 'a host of scandalous and fallen gentlewoman.'

'The Real Bridgerton' is a short, sub-200-page, easy-to-read taste of Georgian gossip. It's a great read for anyone interested in that era, whether it be historical fiction or nonfiction. Simply eye-popping behaviour.

NetGalley, Christy Howl

This was a quick and interesting read - I always enjoy learning more about the georgian era and learning about some of the big scandals of the time was definitely interesting!

NetGalley, Jaime Arkin

This isn't the first Curzon book I've read and it won't be the last. Curzon is a genius for how she brings the Georgian period alive. This would be a great starting place for people obsessed with the Bridgerton series who want the real scandal of the time. Easy to read in small bits if you're new to nonfiction. Even if you're well versed in the era there's stuff here to enjoy.

NetGalley, Sara Marsden

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A delightful romp through all the aristocratic scandals of the Georgian era. It actually goes a long way to explain the conservatism of the Victorians, showing how reactionary it was to the previous era's seemingly unending scandals. Dukes, duchess, earls, countess, lords and ladies - for all their nose in the air attitude we see here just how often they got down and dirty - both in the sheets and in the courts.

NetGalley, Kara Race-Moore

Hear the author on History Hit's Betwixt The Sheets podcast talking about the Real Bridgerton.

History Hit

Hear author Catherine here on BBC Radio Essex discussing badly-fitting corsets and TV shows banning them for the good of actor’s health!

BBC Radio Essex

I have never watched Bridgerton, but I absolutely love history books, so I had no hesitation requesting this from NetGalley. And I'm so grateful to them and Pen Sword Books for the opportunity to read it in exchange for honest feedback.

I am extremely impressed by the depth of Curzon's research and her ability to tell the stories of the members of European high society in such a compelling and riveting manner. While this book certainly focuses on the salacious drama of the times, it goes much deeper than that. Curzon consistently offers meaningful and insightful commentary on the impact of patriarchal society, unfair gender norms, and discusses the intersection of sexuality, gender, and socioeconomic status in historical context.

NetGalley, Shameem Balakrishnan

Nice little book that gives an overview of some of the fascinating scandals of upper British society from the 18th and 19th centuries. I liked the overview of each story and how Curzon weaved the web of how all these people are interconnected to one another. It was a very fast read and because the vignettes are shorter, it was easy to read them in smaller sections over the course of a few days.

NetGalley, Beth Yurs

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A fun, scandalous romp through le bon ton! Curzon uses her witty style to regale you with all the bad behavior of upper crust society. Extremely entertaining!

NetGalley, Mariama Thorlu-Bangura

I really enjoyed this text, especially as someone who had some annoyance with the show for going so far beyond what the historical Regency period in England was like (though the show is still fun). This text balanced information and historical knowledge with communicating it in a way accessible to many readers, not only those already familiar with the period... I'll suggest this book to interested students and colleagues who enjoy the regency/regency history/regency romance, Jane Austen/etc!

NetGalley, Mary Truglia

An excellent read in the Bridgerton fan universe, or just a great read for a history lover.

NetGalley, Anna Wooliver Phillips

I thoroughly enjoy regency history as I find it utterly fascinating, this book opens up a different side to the era and the indiscretions of the aristocracy in full. The sheer amount of names alone is mind boggling and the intertwining of the elite and their extra marital affairs could be read like pages from a novel. It's a C18 version of the tabloids and the public's insatiable hunger for the celebrity sex scandal. Many will fall and get shamed, yet some will rise and use it to their advantage. It's brilliantly researched and as a reader you will end up down an internet rabbit hole trying to see the paintings of who is described. If you like bridgerton and anything to do with the regency period, read this as you won't be disappointed.

NetGalley, Kate Jackson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I had a lot of fun in reading this anthology of Regency scandals. An interesting list of cases that shows how the past was exactly like the present and there's nothing new under the sun.
The author is a good storyteller and there's a lot of humour.
Highly recommended.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A great introduction to the world of Bridgerton, Georgette Heyer, and Jane Austen.

NetGalley, Caroline Palmer

About Catherine Curzon

CATHERINE CURZON is a historian of old Hollywood and even older royalty.
Catherine has appeared on Radio 4’s PM programme and Dan Snow’s Story of England, as well as radio stations across Europe and the UK. Her work has been featured online by BBC News, BBC History Extra and the Daily Express, and in publications including All About History and Who Do You Think You Are?. Further afield, Catherine’s expertise has been featured by Smithsonian Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, Town & Country, Elle Australia, Der Bund, La Vanguardia and Metrópoles, among others.
She has spoken at venues including Kenwood House, Wellington College, the Royal Pavilion, the National Maritime Museum and Dr Johnson’s House. As one half of Ellie Curzon (with Helen Barrell), her World War Two sagas for Bookouture and Orion have achieved bestseller status in the UK and the US.
Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not cheering for the Terriers, can be found by following the distant strains of Dean Martin. She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill with a rakish gent and a very woolly dog.

Perfect Partner

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Known to millions as the imperious matriarch of Bridgerton’s court, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was still a teenager when she was chosen to be the bride of King George III. Shy, innocent, and sheltered, the orphaned princess and her youthful groom carried the hopes of a nation on their shoulders. The placid and unassuming young couple symbolised a new beginning, but soon those hopes began to sour. Charlotte and George’s marriage lasted for nearly 60 years and produced more than a dozen children, but it was beset by unrest at home, war in the colonies, and the king’s encroaching madness.…

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