G for Georgette Heyer


I stumbled upon Georgette Heyer in my school library and loved her right from the start. This British author was born in the 1900s in Wimbledon, London. However, she chose to set her novels a full hundred years back, in the Regency period. 

What a glorious time that was!  Women in elaborate gowns and even more elaborate hairdos topped off by insanely expensive hats; men just as fashion conscious with their cravats that could be arranged in a hundred different ways, their breeches and stylish coats; balls, soirees, phaeton rides and hunting parties. Oh I do love it all and Georgette Heyer brought it to life.

The beginning

Her journey in writing began with story-telling sessions. When she was just 17 her brother fell ill with a form of Haemophilia and she began a serial story to entertain him. Her father, who had always encouraged her to read, loved the story and thought of getting it published. The book appeared as her first novel ‘The Black Moth’ even before she turned 20 and then there was, to use a cliche, no looking back. Georgette Heyer was one of the most prolific writers coming up with a mystery and a romance each year. Some of her well-know books include Devil's Cub, Talisman Ring, The Grand Sophy, Sylvester.

A meticulous researcher

Given that her novels were set in a period she had never seen, she researched every single aspect of that time. Wiki tells me her library included about a thousand reference books. She would make note cards on almost everything no matter how insignificant. She read up histories of snuff boxes, sign posts and costumes. She sorted her notes into categories like beauty, hats, household, prices. She made extensive lists of phrases on topic like food and crockery, endearments, forms of address! Whew!! Some effort there, which is why for a long time I thought she actually belonged to the 19th century.. so authentic was she. She's another one inspired by Jane Austen.

Not one for the media

Her third book – These Old Shades (my personal favourite) – was released during the time of the UK general strike and got no promotion at all.. no reviews, no newspaper coverage, nothing. Yet it sold some 190,000 copies. After that she refused to give interviews completely.

A combination of romance and mystery with liberal doses of wit

.. that’s what you find in her books. Her heroes were typically serious yet appreciated spirit in their lady and enjoyed a good laugh. Her heroines were often young. They were always effervescent and unaffected and very very romantic. More often than not Heyer threw in a dash of mystery which made her books even more exciting.

And now I'm off to reread her. Did I tell you, you can read her books over and over again and enjoy them each time? Yes, well you can.

And for tomorrow's clue - an H, this lady, has to her credit, just a single published book that won a Pulitzer and became classroom material. Okay.. let me make it easier the book is told from the perspective of a 6-year-old girl. 

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, 2014 for the theme AMAZING AUTHORS.

Also linking to the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

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