Archive for the ‘Literature’ Category

Well folks, I didn’t even get to 50 this year. AND I’m a bit late publishing my list. But it’s about quality, not quantity, right?

But I enjoyed the many books I did read, and I began a number of larger works I hope to finish in 2016. My favourites of the past year – difficult as it was to choose favourites – are in red text in the list below.

Happy new year!

# Title Author Publisher, Year Subject Category Why did I read this? How did I get it?
1 Meeting the Other Crowd: The Fairy Stories of Hidden Ireland
Eddie Lenihan with Carolyn Eve Green Tarcher-Penguin, 2004 Non-Fiction (Short Stories) VPL second-hand book sale
2 The Heart Laid Bare
Michel Tremblay Talonbooks, 2002 Fiction (Novel) for work (ebook production)
3 MaddAddam
Margaret Atwood Vintage Canada, 2014 Fiction (Novel) finale of series
4 The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Neil Gaiman William Morrow, 2013 Fiction (Novel) found in mobile library near Heather and 16th, Vancouver
5 Mambo Italiano
Steve Galluccio Talonbooks, 2004 Fiction (Drama) for work (research)
6 Hidden Bounties: Memories of Pioneering on the Magdalen Archipelago
Larry Rowdon Nine Pines, 1994 Non-Fiction (Memoir) intended to read for many years
7 Birth of a Bookworm
Michel Tremblay (trans. Sheila Fischman) Talonbooks, 2003 Non-Fiction (Memoir) via work (ebook production)
8 The Trouble with Brunch: Work, Class, and the Pursuit of Leisure
Shawn Micalleff Coach House, 2014 Non-Fiction (Essay) press, reviews, publicity
9 What’s True, Darling
M.A.C. Farrant Polestar, 1997  Fiction (Short Stories)  gift from GTM in 2013
10 The St. Leonard Chronicles [manuscript]
Steve Galluccio Talonbooks, 2015 Fiction (Drama) for work (copy-editing)
11 Veronica Mars: Mr. Kiss and Tell
Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham Vintage, 2015 Fiction (Mystery) series fan
12 Pastoral
André Alexis Coach House, 2014 Fiction (Novella) publisher catalogue
13 Get Me Out of Here
Sachiko Murakami Talon, 2015 Poetry for work (proofreading)
14 The Hatch
Colin Browne Talon, 2015 Poetry for work (proofreading)
15 Fifteen Dogs
André Alexis Coach House, 2015 Fiction (Novel) gift from HW
16 Dead Metaphor: Three Plays
George F. Walker Talonbooks, 2015 Drama for work (proofreading)
17 Shadow Scale
Rachel Hartman Pengun Random House Doubleday Canada, 2014 Fiction (YA) second in a series, first of which won Sunburst Award
18 Fairy Ring
Martine Desjardins Talon, 2001 Fiction (epistolary novel) via work
19 The Miner’s Son and the Farmer’s Daughter: The Story of D.H. Lawrence and Jessie Chambers
P.K. Ridgway unpublished playscript Non-Fiction (Drama) attended a rehearsal, wanted to read the ending
20 Holy Cow
David Duchovny FSG, 2015 Fiction (Novel) tweets & general publicity
21 in event of moon disaster
arbitrarily Archive of Our Own, 2013 Novella-length Fan-Fiction (Mad Men) browsing a shipper tag
22 The Divine
Michel Marc Bouchard Talon, 2015 Fiction (Drama) for work (proofreading)
23 That Summer
David French Talon, 2000 Fiction (Drama) for work (ebook production)
24 The X-Files: Goblins
Charles Grant HarperCollins, 1994 Fiction (Mystery) got excited about the #XFilesRevival, pledged to read the original tie-in novels
25 Cosmophilia
Rahat Kurd Talon, 2015 Poetry for work (proofreading)
26 The X-Files: Whirlwind
Charles Grant HarperCollins, 1995 Fiction (Mystery) got excited about the #XFilesRevival, pledged to read the original tie-in novels
27 The X-Files: Ground Zero
Kevin J. Anderson HarperCollins, 1995 Fiction (Mystery) got excited about the #XFilesRevival, pledged to read the original tie-in novels
28 Winners and Losers
Marcus Youssef and James Long Talonbooks, 2015 Non-Fiction (Drama) for work (ebook production)
29 Monkey Beach
Eden Robinson Vintage Canada, 2001 Fiction (Novel) intended to read for years; finally got around to it
30 Takeover in Tehran: The Inside Story of the 1979 U.S. Embassy Capture
Massoumeh Ebtekar (as told to Fred A. Reed) Talon, 2000 Non-Fiction (Memoir) for work (ebook production)
31 Rom Com
Dina Del Bucchia and Daniel Zomparelli Talon, 2015 Poetry for work (typesetting)
32 Darcy’s Story: Pride and Prejudice told from a whole new perspective
Janet Aylmer Harper, 2006 Fiction (Novel) bought as gift for CS
33 Sila: The Arctic Cycle
Chantal Bilodeau Talon, 2015 Fiction (Drama) for work (proofreading)
34 Mend the Living
Maylis de Kerangal, translated by Jessica Moore manuscript [forthcoming from Talon, 2016] Fiction (Novel) for work (cover design)
35 In a World Created by a Drunken God
Drew Hayden Taylor Talon, 2006 Fiction (Drama) for work (cover redesign)
36 Cerulean Blue
Drew Hayden Taylor Talon, 2015 Fiction (Drama) for work (ebook production)
37 Moss Park and Tough!: The Bobby and Tina Plays
George F. Walker Talon, 2015 Fiction (Drama) for work (proofreading)
38 Jabber
Marcus Youssef Talon, 2015 Fiction (Drama) for work (ebook QC)
39 Men Explain Things to Me
Rebecca Solnit Haymarket Books / Dispatch Books, 2014 Non-fiction (Essays) publicity through Consortium Book Sales and Distribution
40 Prophet’s Daughter: The Life and Legacy of Bahíyyih Khánum, Outstanding Heroine of the Bahá’í Faith
Janet Khan Bahá’í Publishing, 2005 Non-fiction (History/Religious Studies) Bahá’í community & personal study
41 The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary Simon Winchester Harper Perennial, 1998 Non-fiction (History) Enjoyed other work by the same author
42 Sugar Blues
 William Dufty  Warner Books, 1976  Non-fiction (Wellness)  Re-read
43 Practical Magic
 Alice Hoffman  Putnam, 1995  Fiction (Novel) I have a soft spot for the movie, and I’d never read Hoffman, so I figured I’d give her a try.
44 A Credit to Your Race
Truman Green Anvil, 2011 Fiction (Novel/YA) Free book!
45 Her Son’s Hero
Vicki Essex Harlequin, 2011 Fiction (Romance) Recommended by SD
46 Hild
Nicola Griffith FSG, 2013 Fiction (Historical novel) Bookstore browsing

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My 2014 in Books

Folks, you may or may not know that I have been struggling with tendonitis & carpal-tunnel problems for more than a year. This has kept me away from computer-centric leisure activities – including blogging – and has thrust me into a regimen of physiotherapy. But I have still been reading. I never stop reading.

A little while ago I learned of the #95books project, and idly wondered how many books I had read this year – and whether or not that number would come at all close to 95. Despite the fact that it is late in the year and I have probably forgotten much, I gave it a shot: I enumerated all the books I could recall having read since last year’s winter holiday, in half-remembered chronological order.

some of the books I read in 2014

some of the books I read in 2014

Notes on criteria:

  • I counted books only – nothing else, though I also read, for example, countless articles of news online, including long-form journalism, as well as the odd periodical. I did see fit to count novel-length fan works, but not shorter works of fanfiction.
  • As I work in publishing, I read a great deal, but for the purpose of this list I made a few distinctions: I counted only the work-related books I read full through (and whose plots/details/themes I can recall after the fact); I did not count the large number of books I skimmed or read only partially; and I distinguish in the chart below between“work-related” books (which I read for work-related purposes) and books I discovered “via work” (books published by my company, which I read for pleasure).
  • I also served as a juror and read two large binders full of trial documents … but I ultimately decided not to count those.
  • Finally, I also read much Bahá’í material, which won’t surprise anyone, but few books full through, in 2014 – and that is one example of a thing I hope to change in 2015.

Turns out I got to 61. Not bad for an inadvertent effort. 39 works of fiction, 18 works of non-fiction, and 4 collections of poetry. I’ll say this: I read more non-fiction than I thought; I expected fiction from floor to ceiling.

It feels a little strange to me to publicize a personal reading list; what an intimate relationship we have with what we read, after all. Still, here they are, for my records and perhaps your mild interest:

# Title Author Publisher, Year Subject Category How I Found It
1 The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories
Susanna Clarke Bloomsbury, 2006 Fiction (Short Stories) VPL second-hand book sale; had enjoyed author’s previous book
2 Honky Dalton Conley Vintage, 2001 Non-Fiction (Memoir) recommended by a friend (YR)
3 The Salish People vol. 2 Charles Hill-Tout Talonbooks, [year unknown] Non-Fiction (Ethnography) work-related
4 The Salish People vol. 3 Charles Hill-Tout Talonbooks, [year unknown] Non-Fiction (Ethnography) work-related
5 The Salish People vol. 4 Charles Hill-Tout Talonbooks, [year unknown] Non-Fiction (Ethnography) work-related
6 Folies Past: A Prequel to Pride & Prejudice Melanie Kerr self-published, 2013 Fiction (Novel) gift from a friend (CS)
7 Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen public domain (Kobo edition), 2011 Fiction (Novel) classic [reread]
8 The World Afloat M.A.C. Farrant Talonbooks, 2014 Fiction (Short Stories) work-related
9 bpNichol: What History Teaches Stephen Scobie Talonbooks, [year unknown] Non-Fiction (Literary Criticism) work-related
10 The Valley Joan MacLeod Talonbooks, 2014 Drama work-related
11 The Stone Diaries Carol Shields Vintage, 1993 Fiction (Novel) VPL second-hand book sale
12 Lasagna: The Man Behind the Mask Ronald Cross with Helene Sevigny Talonbooks, 1991(?) Non-Fiction (Autobiography) work-related
13 Seasons: Sixth BeshterAngelus FanFiction.net, 2013 Fan-Fiction novel-length fanfiction, The X-Files
14 Seasons: Seventh BeshterAngelus FanFiction.net, 2013 Fan-Fiction novel-length fanfiction, The X-Files
15 Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line Rob Thomas Knopf Doubleday, 2014 Fiction (Mystery) already a fan of the franchise
16 A Wizard of Earthsea Ursula K. LeGuin [unknown] Fiction (YA Fantasy) intended to read since Children’s Lit course in 2004
17 Girl in the Goldfish Bowl Morris Panych Talonbooks, 1999(?) Drama work-related
18 The Berlin Blues Drew Hayden Taylor Talonbooks, 1996(?) Drama via work
19 DOWNVERSE Nikki Reimer Talonbooks, 2014 Poetry via work
20 Back to the Good Fortune Diner Vicki Essex Harlequin, 2013 Romance recommended by a friend (SD)
21 Fangirl Rainbow Rowell St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013 Fiction (YA Novel) recommended by a friend (SD)
22 The Obese Christ Larry Tremblay Talonbooks, 2014 Fiction (Psychological Thriller) work-related
23 Releasing the Powers of Junior Youth (Book 5) Ruhi Institute Ruhi Institute, 2014 Non-Fiction (Religious) study circle resulting from Vancouver Youth Conference 2013 (Baha’i Community) [reread]
24 Cockroach Rawi Hage Anansi, 2008 Fiction (Novel) CBC Canada Reads 2014
25 Annabel Kathleen Winter Anansi, 2010 Fiction (Novel) CBC Canada Reads 2014
26 Hollow City Ransom Riggs Quirk Books, 2014 Fiction (YA Fantasy) bookstore browsing
27 Walking Together on a Path of Service (Book 7) Ruhi Institute Ruhi Institute, 2000s(?) Non-Fiction (Religious) invited to study circle by the tutor [reread]
28 The Orenda Joseph Boyden Hamish-Hamilton, 2013 Fiction (Novel) CBC Canada Reads 2014
29 The Porcupine Hunter and Other Stories Henry Tate (ed. Ralph Maud) Talonbooks, 1993(?) Non-Fiction (Ethnography) work-related
30 A Slight Case of Fatigue Stèphane Bourguignon Talonbooks, 1999(?) Fiction (Novel) work-related
31 Motherhouse David Fennario Talonbooks, 2014 Drama work-related
32 meanwhile: The Critical Writings of bpNichol Roy Miki (editor) Talonbooks, [year unknown] Non-Fiction (Literary Criticism) work-relatedhA`
33 Minor Expectations Garry Thomas Morse Talonbooks, 2014 Fiction (Novel – Speculative) work-related
34 Christina, The Girl King Michel-Marc Bouchard Talonbooks, 2014 Drama work-related
35 Year of the Flood Margaret Atwood Vintage, 2010 Fiction (SF/“cli-fi”) CBC Canada Reads 2014
36 Austenland Shannon Hale Bloomsbury, 2008 Fiction (Chick Lit) had seen the movie
37 Guide to BC Indian Myth & Legend Ralph Maud Talonbooks, [year unknown] Non-Fiction (Ethnography) work-related
38 Maleficium Martine Desjardins Talonbooks, 2012 Fiction (Novel) via work
39 Wild Child: Girlhoods in the Counter-Culture Chelsea Cain (editor) Seal Press, 1999 Non-Fiction (Essays) gift from a friend (HS) [reread]
40 Longbourn Jo Baker Knopf, 2013 Fiction (Novel) bookstore browsing
41 Crossing the City Michel Tremblay Talonbooks, 2014 Fiction (Novel) work-related
42 Michel & Ti-Jean George Rideout Talonbooks, 2014 Drama via work
43 Peacock Blue: The Collected Poems Phyllis Webb Talonbooks, 2014 Poetry via work
44 Odd Ducks [manuscript] Bryden MacDonald Talonbooks, 2015 (forthcoming) Drama via work
45 An Error in Judgement: Medical Care in an Indian-White Community Dara Culhane Speck Talonbooks, 2001(?) Non-Fiction (Sociology/Politics) work-related
46 The West Wing: Fantasy 8 various National-Library.net, [year unknown] Fan-Fiction novel-length fanfiction, The West Wing
47 Eleanor & Park Rainbow Rowell St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013 Fiction (YA Novel) word of mouth; recommendation (SD & JL)
48 Prisoner of Heaven Carlos Ruiz Zafon Harper Perennial Canada, 2013 Fiction (Novel) lent by a friend (VW)
49 Hosanna (3rd ed.) Michel Tremblay Talonbooks, 2013 Drama work-related
50 Bordertown Café Kelly Rebar Talonbooks, [year unknown] Drama via work
51 Loki is Buried at Stony Creek Fred Wah Talonbooks, 1970s(?) Poetry work-related
52 Pictograms From the Interior of B.C. Fred Wah Talonbooks, 1970s(?) Poetry work-related
53 The Book of Life Deborah Harkness Viking, 2014 Fiction (Novel) bookstore browsing
54 The Keeper’s Daughter  [manuscript: Finding Rose] Jean-François Caron Talonbooks, 2015 (forthcoming) Fiction (Novel) work-related
55 Half-Blood Blues Esi Edugyan HarperCollins, 2011 Fiction (Novel) CBC Canada Reads 2014
56 The Fasting Girl: A True Victorian Medical Mystery Michelle Stacey Tarcher-Putnam, 2002 Non-Fiction (History) VPL second-hand book sale
57 In Plain Sight: Reflections on Life in Downtown Eastside Vancouver Leslie A. Robertson & Dara Culhane (editors) Talonbooks, 2003 Non-Fiction (Essays) work-related
58 The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America Thomas King Doubleday Canada, 2012 Non-Fiction (History) various forms of publicity; borrowed from coworker (VW)
59 My Turquoise Years
M.A.C. Tarrant Greystone, 2004 Non-Fiction (Memoir) recommended by coworkers & VW & AM)
60 It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens Danah Boyd Yale University Press, 2014 Non-Fiction (Sociology) recommended by a conference speaker (BB at TechForum 2014)
61 The Black Notebook Michel Tremblay Talonbooks, 2006 Fiction (novel) work-related

I consider it a good year. And the desire to read (as well as available free time for reading) does tend to ebb and flow to some degree from year to year. I may not get to 60 in 2015 – but I will endeavour to keep a more accurate list as I go.

I wish I had time to write reviews or commentary about these books, many of which were excellent, but I don’t. I’ll share just a bit of the cream:

  • I was most emotionally affected by Atwood’s Year of the Flood. I won’t get into how or why, because that is a whole other ball game, as they say. If you haven’t read any so-called cli-fi, I urge you to do so. In my case cli-fi essentially preaches to the choir, but it’s sometimes important to remind yourself of why you joined the choir in the first place. Say yes to this series.
  • The worst by far was Austenland, which I read as an experiment after watching the mildly amusing movie (best part of which was casting Brett Mackenzie in a romantic role; please, Hollywood, do that again sometime). I do not have the stomach for chick lit, and I found this book unctuous. Mercifully, it was a quick read.
  • The book I would most recommend is Danah Boyd’s It’s Complicated. Teachers, parents, and anyone who lives, works with, or serves the needs of youth and young people would benefit from reading this book. Anyone flustered by or concerned about or interested in the social and sociological impacts of an increasingly networked world would benefit from reading this book.

The rest was gravy, essentially.

(Gravy, too, is important. Check out this news, published in 2013, which found that readers of literary fiction make good empathizers.)

If you’re interested in tracking your own reading habits, check out the 50 Book Pledge, which I found out about while writing this post. If you’re curious about how and why people choose to buy the books they buy, you might peruse BookNet Canada’s latest report, “The Canadian Book Consumer 2013 – Coast to Coast: Book Buyers Across Canada” (PDF). Last but not least, if you’ve read any of the books above and would like to chat about them, leave a comment!

You may not hear (read) from me for a while, owing to the above-outlined circumstances, but I trust you’ll be doing your share of reading excellent things.

Happy reading in 2015, everyone!

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Today’s guest post is by Celeste Sargent who is an artist by nature, a scientist by nurture and a teacher by profession.  This is the first in a series of posts about Regency Balls.

I am not a “Janeite”

I am not a “Janeite” or at least, I have not been. Janeitism is defined as

“the self-consciously idolatrous enthusiasm for ‘Jane’ [Austen] and every detail relative to her”[1].

Like many, I first read Pride and Prejudice as a teenager and I literally couldn’t put it down. The story goes that on a school trip in Alberta I was so absorbed in the book that I missed the rest stop and, when we were stopped by a train crossing, had to use a snowy field.  Since then, I’ll admit that I’ve read all of her books many (many) times.  My personal favourite is Mansfield Park.  But my enjoyment of her books has rarely led to interest in derivatives. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? No Thanks.  A trip to the Jane Austen Festival in Bath?  Yikes. When Miss Bingley tries to pigeon hole Elizabeth as “a great reader” who “has no pleasure in anything else.”  Elizabeth protests, saying:

“I deserve neither such praise nor such censure, … I am not a great reader, and I have pleasure in many things.”[2]

Like Elizabeth, I object strongly to being labelled. But, as it happens the many things that give me pleasure include history, drama, classical music, singing and dancing.  So it recently occurred to me that it would be a lot of fun to hold a Regency Era house concert and ball, which was a key feature in all of Jane Austen’s novels. Thus, 20 years after my first exposure, I find myself afflicted with a severe case of late-onset Janeitism.

Lively Regency Dancing circa 1805

Lively Regency Dancing circa 1805

The Spirit of the Age

I am a Baha’i and Jane Austen died in the same year that Baha’u’llah (the Founder of the Baha’i Faith) was born (1817).  The approaching 200th anniversary of these two events seems like a good enough reason to hold a ball but is there also a connection between these two individuals? English Literature (and Western thought) changed dramatically in the early 19th century from Romanticism to Realism (also called “Victorian” Literature”).  Indeed, all of humanity was changing dramatically at that time. Theologians believe that the coming of a Manifestation of God on earth releases spiritual forces that transform humanity.

“the Holy Manifestations of God are the centres of the light of reality…When the Holy Manifestation of God, Who is the sun of the world [shines] then the spiritual spring and new life appear, the power of the wonderful springtime becomes visible, and marvelous benefits are apparent.  As you have observed, at the time of the appearance of each Manifestation of God extraordinary progress has occurred in the world of minds, thoughts and spirits.”[3]

Often miss-identified as romance novels, Jane Austen’s work is actually an early example of realism. Is it possible that Jane Austen felt the gentle influence related to the re-birth of religion? Certainly Jane was influenced by her sincere Christian faith and she was in tune with the emerging zeitgeist, whatever your belief about it’s cause may be.  Her understanding of human nature and clear-sighted moral reasoning seem ahead of her time and her writing continues to appeal to modern sensibilities.  It therefore seems, if not apropos, then at least not inappropriate, to celebrate Ayyam-i-Ha this year by holding a Regency Ball.

Having a Ball

In order to recreate a house concert and ball as it would have occurred in 1817 England, I had to do a good deal of research, the fruits of which labour I share with you here (Chloë has very kindly allowed me to temporarily hijack her blog) in the 1817 Regency Ball Blog Series:

– Having a (Regency) Ball
Ladies and Gentlemen, Regency Fashion!
Easy P’easy Regency: From bed to ball gown in 30 minutes or less
‘Mary, play a reel! Nobody wants your concertos’: Regency Music and Dance

I am hoping that with a strict treatment of blogging, dressing up, dancing and reading fan fiction I can get over this late-onset case of Janeitism quickly. My friend, Melanie Kerr, who I recently discovered has chronic Janeitism, has written a Prequel to Pride and Prejudice titled “Follies Past”, which I look forward to reading as my very first fan fiction.

Disclaimer: This blog series and event is an independent, individual initiative, not associated with any institution or organization.  It does not represent the Baha’i Faith or the Baha’i Community of Vancouver.


1. Johnson, Claudia L. “Austen cults and cultures.”1997

2. Austen, Jane. “Pride and Prejudice.” 1813

3. Abdu’l-Baha. “Some Answered Questions.”

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This guest post is by Celeste Sargent as part of the 1817 Regency Ball Blog Series

Ivory notebook

Ivory was often used for notes instead of paper as pencil and even ink easily rub off.

What should I do with your … spirited Sketches …?” Jane Austen wrote her nephew Edward “How could I possibly join them on to the little bit (two Inches wide) of Ivory on which I work with so fine a Brush …?“[1]

Jane Austen used the metaphor of her small, ivory notebook to modestly describe her ordinary characters and the narrow scope of her stories, but it is also an apt metaphor for the time and place in which she lived and in which her stories take place: Regency England.

The ordinary ivory notebook (as opposed to expensive paper) is also a good metaphor for the themes on which she wrote and the ideas that influenced the Regency Period (and Regency Fashion). Within their seemingly small, ordinariness they contain an enduring quality and value. 

The Regency Period

regencyfashion1810The Regency Period in England was very short. Technically it spans from 1811-1820 when King George III was deemed unfit to rule and his son ruled as his proxy until the King’s death. More generally it spans from 1790 to 1820s [3]. Though born into the Georgian Era in 1775, Jane Austen’s adult life was Regency.  Her first book (Sense and Sensibility) was published in 1811 and she died in 1817[4].

Regency Fashion is notable for it’s ordinariness for both men and women.  It was a changing social time in Europe (and the world), with revolution in the air (notably the French Revolution in 1789). The foundations of society and social classes were shifting.  Disgusted with the excess as much as the oppression of the Regents and ruling classes, many people were attracted to simplicity and equality, which affected their fashion choices.

“Indeed it [the Regency Era] was a time of revolution in every sphere – political as well as domestic. Social reform was in its infancy, but would soon become the catch-phrase of the Victorians. On other fronts, a religious revival had begun to kick with the rise of the middle classes, a stricter morality, or at least the appearance of it. And fashion changed with the times, from the simplest of white muslin gowns of the Directoire to the elaborate embroidered, flounced and trimmed toilettes that were the forerunners of the even more ornate Victorian era. It is against this backdrop of war and technical advancement, over consumption and poverty, we are to see those times; the true beginning of our modern times.” [5]

Ladies’s Regency Fashion

Regency Dancing Woman

Derived from an admiration of the Greeks, perhaps for their ideas of democracy, simple and comfortable shifts, gathered below the bust became the fashion for women[6].  The empire waist was a welcome respite for the tortured waistline.  For this period the corset gave way to a shorter, lighter and more comfortable undergarment almost comparable to a modern bra which was not seen again until the 1920s.[7] En even more modern change was that,

people began using clothing more as a form of individual expression of the true-self than as a pure indication of social status“[6]

Lady Catherine de Bourgh is clearly depicted as a matriarch from another era when Mr. Collins says

Lady Catherine will not think the worse of you for being simply dressed.  She likes to have the distinction of rank preserved.” [8]

Dress Timeline 1800-1900

The Empire Waist suddenly appears in the Regency Era (1790-1820) but then fashion returns to the corseted waistline until the 1920s.

A Regency Era Lady in the Ballroom

  • Gown:
    • Ankle-length
    • Empire waist (under the bust)
    • Any neckline
    • Any sleeves (cap, short, long)
  • Chemise (optional white blouse worn under a dress to cover the shoulders and/or bust)
  • Spencer (optional VERY short, fitted jacket)
  • Slippers (flat dancing shoes)
  • Shawl (large square of coloured fabric like a pashmina, often Indian silk)
  • Long white gloves
  • Fan
  • Reticule (fabric draw-string purse)
  • Hair: Grecian (curled, up and simple or ornamented with ribbons, combs, beads, feathers etc)

For Easy Women’s Regency Gown tips and tricks check out:

  1. How to Fake Regency: A Guide to the Silhouette” by Experiments in Elegance
  2. Easy P’easy Regency: from bed to ball gown in 30 minutes or less“, by Celeste Sargent
  3. How to Get a Proper Regency Look From a Thrift Store“, by Regency Exhibition Ball
  4. Women’s Hairstyles“, by Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion

Gentlemen’s Regency Fashion

Fashion-GentlemanMen’s fashion was also influenced by ideals of simplicity and was notable for beginning the transition to the modern suit[9].  Gentlemen who had previously worn breeches and pantaloons (knee/calf length with socks) or tight leggings began to wear slightly looser fitting, full length trousers which had been the fashion of the lower classes [10].  Soon the trouser would be included as a part of evening wear with the tailcoat (the tuxedo)[11].

The cravat (precursor of the tie) was also introduced in this era and, like any new fashion trend, was promptly taken to extremes.  Contrasted with the stated desire for simplicity this was the era when the term “Dandyism” was coined for men. “Beau Brummel”, a contemporary of Jane epitomized men’s Regency fashion in both respects.  I apologize for simply quoting wikipedia directly here.

“George Bryan “Beau” Brummell (7 June 1778 – 30 March 1840) was an iconic figure in Regency England, the arbiter of men’s fashion, and a friend of the Prince Regent, the future King George IV. He established the mode of dress for men that rejected overly ornate fashions for one of understated, but perfectly fitted and tailored bespoke garments. This look was based on dark coats, full-length trousers rather than knee breeches and stockings, and above all immaculate shirt linen and an elaborately knotted cravat.

Beau Brummell is credited with introducing, and establishing as fashion, the modern men’s suit, worn with a necktie.  He claimed he took five hours a day to dress, and recommended that boots be polished with champagne.  His style of dress is often referred to as dandyism.” [12]

A Regency Era Gentleman in the Ballroom

  • Trousers (full length, slim-leg, high waisted dress pants)
  • Collared dress shirt (White)
  • Cravat  (white linen scarf tied around a popped collar)
  • Waistcoat (vest) – double or single breasted
  • Tailcoat – double or single breasted
  • Dress shoes
  • Gloves (white)
  • Top Hat
  • Hair: Long or high and tousled on the top and shorter at the sides with side-burns (think Greek)

For Easy Men’s Regency tips and tricks check out:

  1. Faking Regency Fashion For Men” by Experiments in Elegance
  2. My Mr. Knightly: Tying a cravat” by Tea in a Teacup
  3. Easy P’easy Regency: from bed to ball gown in 30 minutes or less“, by Celeste Sargent
  4. Men’s Hairstyles” by Jessamyn’s Regency Costume Companion


1. Francis Beer. “The Three Sisters”: “A Little Bits of Ivory”,

2. James Follet, “Jane Austen’s Laptop Word Processor”, 1996

3. Wikipekia. “Regency Era

4. The Republic of Pemberly. “Jane Austen Information Page

5. Regency England, a Brief Introduction

6. Wikipedia. “1795-1820 in Western Fashion

7. The Republic of Pemberly. “Notes and Illustrations on Regency Clothing Styles

8. Austen, Jane. “Pride and Prejudice.” 1813

9.Wikipedia “History of Suits

10. Koster, Kirsten. “A Primer on Regency Era Men’s Fashion

11. Jane Austen’s World. “Regency Fashion: Men’s Breeches, Pantaloons and Trousers

12. Wikipekia. “Beau Brummell

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This post is contributed by Celeste Sargent and relates specifically to those interested in attending the 1817 Regency Ball being held in Vancouver, Canada in 2014.

Why an 1817 Regency Ball?

  • For fun! Live Rennaissance, Baroque and Classical music, lively group dancing and food.
  • We are approaching the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Death in 1817 and the Birth of Baha’u’llah in the same year (see Disclaimer).

LINK: Having a (Regency) Ball

What is Regency Dancing?

  • Regency Dances – social group dances where many “dance couples” form larger patterns (usually lines, squares and circles). Regency Dancing is the ancestor of modern square dancing.
  • A “Dance Couple” – any two individuals willing to dance together.  One person will perform the “women’s” steps and the other will perform the “men’s” steps but there is very little difference between the two parts.
  • Dance style – lively, simple, repetitive, and will be conducted at an introductory level.  A friend who does not like to dance said. “It’s like organized walking.  I know how to walk!”
  • Learning the Dances – It is assumed that no-one will know the dances in advance and the learning will be part of the fun.

LINK: ‘Mary, play a reel! nobody wants your concertos.’: Regency Music and Dancing

What if I don’t like to dance?

  • The evening will begin with a concert.
  • When the dancing begins, tables with alternative activities will be set up.
    • Cards
    • Children’s games (pick up sticks, jacks etc.)
    • Paper dolls and toy theatre
  • Enjoy the music and watch the dancing
  • Visit and enjoy refreshments from the English Sideboard (non-alcoholic adaptation)

Guide and Recommendations on Dress

  1. Be comfortable –  so that you can dance all night.
  2. Dress nicely – This is a semi-formal occasion (no jeans, T-shirts or runners please)
  3. *Optional*  Incorporate some Regency fashion – this is not a ‘costume’ party, so feel free to incorporate a little or a lot after you’ve considered 1 and 2.  Men can wear dress pants and a white shirt. Women are not required to wear dresses but if you do, try to avoid heels, knees, and bare shoulders).  Regency fashion was pretty simple, so check out these links.

LINK: Ladies and Gentlemen, Regency Fashion!

LINK: Easy P’easy Regency: from bed to ball gown in 30 minutes or less.

Tickets and Charity

  • This is a charity ball.  All net profit (after expenses*) will be donated to a local women’s shelter.  Information about the shelter will be provided at the event.
  • Tickets cost $20.00 (students $10, children 10 and under are free)
  • Please reserve your ticket(s) and receive your ticket number(s) by
  • Reserved tickets will be picked up and paid for at the door.
  • Space is limited!  Get your tickets now.

*Expenses consist of the material resources (rentals, refreshments etc.) All human resources are volunteer.

What is Ayyam-i-Ha?

Ayyam-i-Ha is a Baha’i celebration that occurs annually from February 26th to March 1st (The Baha’i Calendar). They are

“days of preparation for the Fast; days of hospitality, enjoyment, charity, paying special attention to the plight of the poor and sick, and giving presents. They do not mark any particular event, but the way they are celebrated is, in some ways, similar to the way Christmas is observed worldwide.”(“Celebrating Ayyam-i-Ha Imaginatively”, Baha’i Blog)

Disclaimer: This event is an independent, individual initiative and is not associated with any institution or organization.  It does not represent the Baha’i Faith or the Baha’i Community of Vancouver.

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