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A historian reveals the grittier side of Regency England, far from the country houses and costume balls of high society.
Often upheld as a period of elegance with many achievements in the fine arts and architecture, the Regency era also encompassed a time of great social, political, and economic upheaval. In this insightful social history, the emphasis is on the lives of those not born into nobility—what it was like for the poor, and what challenges they faced.
Using a wide range of sources, James Hobson shares the stories of real people. He explores corruption in government and elections, “bread or blood” rioting, the political discontent felt, and the revolutionaries involved. He explores attitudes to adultery and marriage, and the moral panic about homosexuality. Grave robbery is exposed, along with the sharp pinch of food scarcity, prison, and punishment.
Venturing beyond the images we have from Jane Austen’s novels or costume-drama films, this book reveals a society where the popular hatred of the Prince Regent was widespread and where laws and new capitalist attitudes oppressed the poor—a society in the throes of change.