Georgian England and Ancien Regime Bibliography

1690 to 1790

copyright 1997 by Historical Novelists Center


As usual, check the Atlas of Civilization series for the era, especially The Cultural Atlas of France.

Aldin, Cecil

The Romance of the Road ***
Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1928; now from Bracken Books, London; 123 pg, no index
A memorium by an excellent illustrator of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Includes a survey of the high roads out of London originally published in 1799. The illustrations tend to concentrate on 1825 or so, but much of the gossip is mid-18th century, so watch yourself. T2

Arnold, James

All Drawn By Horses *****!
Newton Abbott, Long & NY; David & Charles, 1979
Good text with line drawings by the author, and an invaluable 2-page glossary of coach terms. Freight wagons as well as phaetons; in fact, heavier on the wagons, which do all the duty of trucks, while on the streets of old only the richest had the carriages equivalent to cars. T2

B.E., Gentleman

Dictionary of the Canting Crew ****
London, 1698-9
Thieves' cant (a heavily slanged dialect) of the period. T3

Bloch, Ivan

Sexual Life in England, Past & Present *****!
1938; now from Oracle; 664 pgs !!
What had to be privately printed in 1938 can be of general interest now. Despite the title, only covers from the Anglo-Saxon period through the late 1800's, but in a full range, from streetwalkers to the escapades of royalty, from staid marriage arrangements to kinky erotica. T2

Blum, Stella, editor

Eighteenth-Century French Fashion Plates in Full Color ****
Dover Publications, Inc., NY; 79 pg, 64 plates
Full-colour engravings from the Galerie des Modes, 1778-1787. T1

Boucher, Francois

Twenty Thousand Years of Fashion; the History of Costume and Personal Adornment ****
Harry N. Abrams, 1966; 440 pg, index, glossary
Strong in this French-dominated period, nonetheless detailing the differences of dress in other nations. T1

Bray, Peter, editor

Transport Through the Ages **
Taplinger Publishing Co., Inc., NY, 1971; illos by Barbara Brown
Covers a bit of everything, from dugout canoes on. Emphasis on later periods. T1

Brett, Gerard

Dinner is Served ***
Archon Books, Hamden, CN, 1968
British meals of the day and their conduct; Part Two covers 1660 to 1900. T2

Brockett, Oscar G.

History of the Theatre ***
Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1977
Good university-level text on staging conventions, acting forms, audience behavior, etc. T3

Burney, Frances, a.k.a. Madame d'Arblay

The Famous Miss Burney: The Diaries and Letters of Fanny Burney, edited by Barbara G. Schrank and David J. Supino. ***
The John Day Co., NY, 1976
A native's view of the world, from 1768 to 1840. Known as an author in girlhood, she later married an emigre, thus the two names. T2

Burton, Elizabeth

The Pageant of Georgian England ****
Charles Scribner's Sons, NY, 1967; British title, The Georgians at Home, illos by Felix Kelley
Excellent on medicine, cosmetics, science, food. Watch the dates: much is pre-1752, when England changed its calendar. T2

Calder-Marshall, Arthur

The Grand Century of the Lady ***
Gordon Cremones, London, 1976
All aspects of the life of an upper-class woman, 1720 to 1820. T2

Castiglione, Baldesar

The Book of the Courtier *****!
translated by Sir Thomas Hoby (1561), full text [At Oregon, Renascence Editions]
Penguin Classics, trans by George Bull; 1967
The original was published 1527, showing court life in Urbino, Italy, around 1516. Later in the century it was very popular in England, and will influence how people think they ought to behave. Discusses a thousand topics of the courtly life, from whether women are better or worse than men to what a courtier should know of combat, including what makes a good jest. Too wide-ranging to sum up shortly. It was very much the pattern book for behavior until Lord Chesterfield in the later 1700s. T2

Chippendale, Thomas

The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker's Director ****
1762; now from Dover
200 engraved plates of what your characters sit on, write on, store in, and sleep in -- or rather under, the lambrequins are so important. Includes 24 photos of surviving Chippendale pieces. This style book was a guide for many cabinetmakers and commonly a wealthy customer walked in and said, "Make me that." T3

Chisman, Isabel and Hester Emilie Raven-Hart

Manners and Movement in Costume Plays *****!
H. F. W. Deane & Sons, London, 1934
Gives select dances, as well as how to handle one's sword, fan, walking-stick, and hat. Manners are very different from the 19th century! What you think is right before reading this, is often very wrong. T3

Cook, Theodore Andrea, Sir, 1867-1928

Old Provence, V.1 & V.2 ****
London, Rivingtons, 1905
If yellowed pages give you megrims, the photos in the B&W PDF are still quite good, not polarized. A bit travelog, oriented to educating the traveller rather than the armchair chrononaut. The first volume deals with ancient and Classical remains in Provence, the second from the emergence of feudal society. That includes the plagues of the 1700s and developments into the Second Empire in some cases. T2

Cornish, Joe, et al

The Coast of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland ***
Abrams; 142 pages; lots of photos
In cause you need to see it but can't make the trip. T3

de Barri, Kinsman

The Bucks and Bawds of London Town ***
Leslie Frewin Publishing, Ltd., London, 1974
The less respectable portions of 18th century British Society. T2

Delbrueck, Hans

The Dawn of Modern Warfare: History of the Art of War, volume IV ****
University of Nebraska Press, 1990, trans. Walter J. Renfroe, Jr.; orig. 1923; 487 pg, index
From the late 1400's through the Napoleonic Wars, the most detailed and clearly written exposition of the development, theory, practicality, and organization of armies. T3

Duffy, Christopher

Fire and Stone: The Science of Fortress Warfare, 1660-1860 ****
Hippocrene Books, NY, 1975; now from Greenhill
Well-written, well-illustrated and well-designed, making the theory and practice of Vauban fortifications quite clear. The Fortess Wargame for Miniatures is tactical fun while teaching you how things can work or go wrong. The other appendix, on how to tour old fortifications, is good if you get to make the research trip. T3

Ehrlich, Blake

London on the Thames ***
Little, Brown & Co., NY, 1966
Each chapter tours London at a different period, often in the newest neighborhood of the expanding metropolis. T2


The School of Manners *****!
1701, available in reprint
Though designed for children of the period, it instructs them in approved behavior at home, in school, and at church. Not only are you allowed to have children in your books, we barbarians of the future need a reminder of how decorous things were. T3

Grose, Capt. Frances

1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue; A Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence ***
Follet Publishing Co.; unnumbered page facsimile of original
Lots of thieves cant, as well as obscene slang that no brother is going to explain to the heroine. Capt. Grose originally brought out his gem in 1785, with further revisions in 1788. He died in 1791, and the 1811 is revised by unknown hands, that have indeed added new meanings. But much of the slang is appropriate here, if this is the only book of period language you can find. However, better, less temporally confused are available. T3

Hale, William Harlan, and the editors of Horizon Magazine

Horizon Cookbook and Illustrated History of Eating and Drinking through the Ages ****
American Heritage Publishing, Inc., 1968
Part One has the description of customs and habits, foods available, and some interesting art. Part Two has the tastiest recipes, done for the modern kitchen. Especially hits this period in Part One. T1

Hargrove, Ely, 1741-1818

Anecdotes of archery; from the earliest ages to the year 1791. Including an account of the most famous archers of ancient and modern times; with some curious particulars in the life of Robert Fitz-Ooth Earl of Huntington, vulgarly called Robin Hood .. ****
York; Hargrove, 1792
Anecdotes are invaluable as a source of what might happen in a skill you don't actually practice.

Hibbert, Christopher

George IV: Prince of Wales, 1762-1811 ****
Harper & Row, NY, 1975
A detail biography in 22 chapters with references, sources, and index; only 40 illos. T2

London, the Biography of a City ***
William Morrow & Co., Inc., NY, 1969
Runs it all down through time, with good coverage of your period. T2

Hogg, Ian V.

The History of Fortification ***
St. Martin's Press, NY, 1981
Clear, interesting and accurate overview from 7000 BC through the 1970's, well illustrated with photos and diagrams; bibliography and glossary. T2

Hyde, Ralph

A Prospect of Britain ****
224 pg, 13.5" x 11.5"
Panoramic engravings by the Buck Brothers, done throughout England and Wales, the closest you will get to photos of the towns, done 1728 to 1753. T3

Inglis, Brian

Trance: A Natural History of Altered States of Mind ****
Paladin/Grafton Books, London, 1990
A history of animal magnetism, mesmerism, hypnotism, and related phenomena, especially the parts that do not fit materialist scientism. Details the researchers and their studies through this century. T3

Ingraham, Holly

People's Names: A Cross-Cultural Reference Guide to the Proper Use of over 40,000 Personal and Familial Names in over 100 Cultures *****!
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, NC; 1997; 613 pgs, index, select annotated bibliography
The Contemporary half will do for all of Europe at this period. Unlike most books this one gives both family names and personal names for men and women. T1

Jarrett, Derek

England in the Age of Hogarth ***
The Viking Press, Inc., NY, 1974
Chapters on child-raising, one on women, and one on the home, all copiously illustrated with Hogarth's work. Good "Suggestions for Further Reading." T1

Jerrold, Clare Armstrong Bridgman

The Beaux and the Dandies: Nash, Brummell, and D'Orsay with Their Courts ****
1910; S. Paul
This actually tracks the beaux all the way to the beginning use of the word in the Restoration. As she shows, this is important, as the classic beaux (rather than the merely flashy dandy) always functioned as an adjunct of royalty and high society, and was required to be impudent, impertinent, bossy, and witty: simply, the modern descendant of the royal jester, who could point out to these mighty people the truth about themselves. The jester became less necessary and mutated into the dandy; the dandy became less necessary and disappeared. She nicely traces this to the last beau, D'Orsay, who could attach himself to society but not a court, because Victoria was far too sober to have a court jester. Dandies, of course, are with us always. An excellent corrective to those who can only view the beaux as morally degraded parasites, however charming. Nash is the Georgian beau, who created Bath as a point of fashion. T2

Kohler, Carl

A History of Costume ****
1930; New York, G. Howard Watt
Hand-sized, info-packed, based on surviving clothes first and artwork secondarily. Author's line drawings of construction and detail. Neophytes should use with a picture book, which it will greatly clarify. T2

Konstam, Angus

The Pirate Ship, 1660-1730 **
Osprey New Vanguard #70, 2003
The least informative Osprey book I have ever read. The text of this book is almost entirely 1700-1730, with brief mentions of the Adventure Galley of 1695 and the development of the pinnance. Mentioning Sir Henry Morgan in passing, without describing his ship, hardly counts. If you were hoping for information on a large pirate ship of 1660 or even 1670, you will find nothing said here. There are some pictures of pirates or pirate actions from the 17th C, not terribly informative. The original paintings by Bryan are so much in one value it's hard to tell the red from the brown in the diagrammatic cutaways, and the sea battles are all white smoke, clouds, and sail without much drama, all in smallish craft.
Some statements are even misleading, as when trimming superstructures flush to the deck is said to allow room for more men and guns (hmm, removing higher decks under cover increases space to put people? rather the opposite) while ignoring the real reason: maneuverability from lowering air resistance and center of gravity (they didn't think of it this way: they just knew it made the ship handier). Unusual inclusion of underwater excavation of ships, but this only gives such shocking revelations as that pirate ships were heavily armed. Duh. No pictures from the excavations.
The 23-book bibliography does not even include Esquemeling/Exquemelin, lists Johnson without noting that this was a pseudonym of Defoe, and misses an excellent source of pirate ship information in Sherry (below) which describes razees (term not even mentioned in this book). Does include two of Konstam's other books (circular authority), but has a couple of unusual leads for further research. Wastes several pages on a tiny introductory glossary including common maritime terms like "abaft." (It takes several pages as it snakes around large illos.) Suitable only for the complete tyro. T1

Laver, James

The Age of Illusion: Manners and Morals 1750 to 1848 ***
D. McKay Company, NY, 1972
How people think and act, as well as how they thought they ought to think and act. T2

Litchfield, Frederick

Illustrated History of Furniture from the Earliest to the Present Time ****
1903; London: Truslove & Hanson Limited; New York:; illustrated by John Lane 1892-1903.
A good basic reference, based on art in early ages. You normally don't have to detail furniture, just know if they had easily movable chairs and tables or what's fashionable. Eurocentric, Anglocentric. T1

Milligan, Jean C.

Introducing Scottish Country Dancing ****
Collins, 1968; 96 pg, index, illos by Irene B. Stewart
When not dancing the minuet, the somewhat similar contra-dance will take its place in later periods or lesser company. T3

also in the series

99 More Scottish Country Dances ***
101 Scottish Country Dances ***

Mitchell, R. J., and M. D. R. Leys

A History of London Life ***
Penguin Books, Inc., NY, 1958
Different areas of the town at different periods. T2

Perouse de Montclos, Jean-Marie

Versailles *****!
Abbeville; 1996; 424 pgs, 400 photos, most color
This is the book we've been hunting for on Versailles! Glorious, grandiouse, resplendent, oversize, and you can keep it next to your chair for reference, which you can't do with a trip (though this is one place so frozen in amber we really recommend one if you can and are set on writing a story set there). T2

Reader's Digest Books, the editors

Reader's Digest Book of the Road ****
Reader's Digest Association, Ltd., London
Identifies the wildflowers, trees, shrubs, birds, wild mammals, butterflies, sea shells, reptiles, fish, and farm animals of the British Isles. Lets you know what blooms in which month, especially useful if you are writing in Taos or Sydney. T3

Richardson, Albert Edward

The Old Inns of England *****!
B. T. Batsford, Ltd., London, 1952, 6th Ed.
Includes a map of the Principal Coaching Routes. Photos of some survivors, with descriptions out of history of how they were run. T2

Salmonson, Jessica Amanda

The Encyclopedia of Amazons: Women Warriors from Antiquity to the Modern Era *****!
Paragon House, NY, 1991; 290 pg, no index, bibliography
This period saw a number of women serving as marines and foot soldiers for the British, usually in drag and secret to begin with, then having proved themselves, being accepted by their comrades. T2

Sands, Mollie

Invitation to Ranelagh, 1742 to 1803 *****!
John Westhouse, Ltd., London, 1946
A history of the public entertainments at the famous gardens, with notes on how fashionable or safe it is at various times. T3

Shelley, Henry C. (Henry Charles)

Inns And Taverns Of Old London: Setting Forth the Historical and Literary Associations of Those Ancient Hostelries, Together With an Account of the Most Notable Coffee-houses, Clubs, and Pleasure Gardens of the British Metropolis ***
Goes area by area, it goes inn by inn, and will finish discussing the 19th C end of one before picking up with the medieval existence of another. Heavy into showing how many literary authors he can quote. Covers Ranelagh and Vauxhall, also the lesser-known spots like Marylebone Gardens and the White Conduit House, besides many others of London and the suburbs. T2-3

Sherry, Frank

Raiders and Rebels : The Golden Age of Piracy ****
iUniverse; Sep-2000
"Raiders and Rebels is a rich and vivid account of the golden age of piracy. From 1692 to 1725 pirates sailed the oceans of the world, terrorizing seamen and plundering ships laden with the riches of India, Africa, South America and the Caribbean. Beneath these well known facts lies the true story of pirates. They were common men and women escaping the social and economic restrictions of 18th-century Europe. Their activities threatened the beginnings of world trade and jeopardized the economic security of several European nations even as they formed one of the first true democracies in the world." Well-researched, detailed, easy reading especially considering its depth. Concentrates on the personality and character of the Madagascar pirates, not just their raids. Throws a certain amount of light on earlier pirates and on Western culture of the time. T1

Smiles, Samuel (1812-1904)

The Life of Thomas Telford civil engineer with an introductory history of roads and travelling in Great Britian ****
London, J. Murray, 1867; Project Gutenburg, on-line
Especially valuable for its introduction on the history of roads in England, including excerpts from various period descriptions and laws. Roads we would consider a disgrace to a jungle island were the norm in England and Europe. Be sure to read the sections on how this psychologically affected the average rural village. T1

Smith, Charles Saumarez

Eighteenth Century Decoration: Design and Domestic Interiors in England ****
Abrams; 1996, 407 pg, 388 illos
Get a good idea of through what your characters are moving and how it affects their motion (and interacts with their costume) just by enjoying the pictures. Not just the grand manors of the wealthy, but middle-class homes and garrets. T3

Smith, William C., compiler

The Italian Opera and Contemporary Ballet in London 1789 to 1820 ****
The Society for Theatre Research, London; 1955
Lists the operas and ballets performed at King's Theatre by year, with composers and choreographers, performers, dates of performance when known, and bits of reviews and criticism. Has a chart of which peers rented which boxes. T3

Somerset, Anne

Ladies-in-Waiting, from the Tudors to the Present Day ****
Knopf, dist. by Random House, NY; 1984; 341 pg, index, bibliography
Discusses the duties and personalities, how appointments were made, kept, and lost in the English court down the centuries T3

Squire, Geoffrey

Dress and Society, 1560-1970 ***
The Viking Press, Inc., NY, 1974
Actually about fashion 1525 to 1860, with a coda for post-1860. Not the same six pictures, unusual theory tying art, architecture and fashion. T2

Stone, Lawrence

Road to Divorce: England 1530-1987 *****
Oxford University Press, 1990; 459 pg, index
This whole trilogy is a must read. You do not realize how much difference the suffragettes made, or what they fought against, until these books teach you what marriage law used to be. Peels off a lot of romantic gloss. At last, an explanation in detail of why couples elope to Gretna Green! Also secret marriages, Fleet marriages, marriage by avowal. Fascinating tabloid stories, not overly pedantic. T2

by the same author (the rest of the trilogy):

Broken Lives *****!
Uncertain Unions *****!
Family, Sex, and Marriage in England, 1500-1800 *****!
London, 1977; think of this as the compact version, with a slightly earlier edge, less emphasis on law change. T2
with Jeanne C. Fawtier Stone:
An Open Elite? England 1540-1880 *****!
About the landed classes, and social mobility in these periods. T2

Swift, Jonathan

Polite Conversation *****!
London, 1783; reprint 1963
Swift's satirical conversations string together the maximum in slang and catch phrases of the day, showing how long you can talk in this period, being witty and up-to-date, without passing a single bit of information worth the name. In case you are overly concerned with having everyone speak perfect English. T3

Tarr, Laszlo

The History of the Carriage ****
Arco Publishing company, Inc., NY, 1969
A favorite description of how carriages work, therefore telling you why they do not corner like automobiles. T3

Thrupp, G. A.

The History of Coaches
London: Kerby & Endean, New York: The "Hub" Publishing Company. 1877.

Tristram, W. Outram

Coaching Days and Coaching Ways ; With 214. Illustrations by Hugh Thomson and Herbert Railton
Macmillan and Co. New York ;1893; Richard Clay and Sons, Limited ; London And Bungay; First Edition printed 1888

Thornbury, Walter, 1828-1876

Old and New London : A Narrative of Its History, Its People, and Its Places ****
volume 1
volume 2 -- v. 1-2. The city, ancient and modern
volume 3
volume 4 -- v. 3-4. Westminster and the western suburbs
volume 5 -- v. 5. The western and northern suburbs
volume 6 -- v. 6. The southern suburbs.
London; Cassell; 1881
Within this format, Thornbury gives a wealth of odds and ends from the Middle Ages forward, if the area was then inhabited to speak of. He specifically notes that he writes after a great boom in building has transformed the town, especially to extending it. Be sure to compare him with a map in your period so you don't have things too built up. It's mostly the city and Southwark at this time. T2

Tweedie, Mrs. Alec (née Harley)

Hyde Park, Its History and Romance
London; Eveleigh Nash, Fawside House; 1908

Vivian, E. Charles

A History of Aeronautics***
Project Gutenberg; original, 1920
Rather over-written, with too much ornament to the prose. Does begin the history in antiquity with legends of flight, and moves on to recorded attempts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. For airship technical details, see Whale, below. T2

Waugh, Norah

Corsets and Crinolines *****!
Theatre Arts Books, 1954
Underpinnings, 1600's to 1925, in period art. T3

The Cut of Men's Clothes 1600-1900 *****!
Theatre Arts Books, 1964
The most fashionable men's dress, in period illustrations, with tailor's patterns, period comments on colours and fabrics, etc. Superb. T3

The Cut of Women's Clothes, 1600 to 1930 *****!
Theatre Arts Books, 1968
The same for women. Both books show fastenings! T3

Whale, George

British Airships, Past/Present/Future ****
Project Gutenberg; original circa 1920
Covers lighter-than-air technology from the late 1700s in France. Gives highly readable explanations of technical details that in modern hands would make your eyes turn to Xs. The discussion of the pros and cons of airships for the future, etc., are unique. T1-2

Wilson, Violet A.

The Coaching Era
New York; E. P. Dutton & Company

Wilton, the Countess of

The Book of Costume or Annals of Fashion, by a Lady of Rank *****!
1812; 500 pg
Detailing fashionable dress in England and France from the Middle Ages to 1800, this is invaluable for its near contemporaneousness with this whole period. Also covers the folk costume or peasant dress of all Europe, also the Middle East and Asia. T2

Wise, Arthur

The Art and History of Personal Combat *****!
Arma Press, New York Graphic Society Ltd, Greenwich, CN, 1971
Necessary for proper duelling techniques and behaviors, also good on the fencing instructors and salons. T2


Composers in the Classical section to snag are:

Bach, Handel, Hayden, Mozart, Scarlatti, Telemann, Vivaldi; also "The Beggar's Opera" by John Gay (1728)


Watching movies to research your book is a lot like reading novels for the same, except that a good costume movie can show you the people in the costumes and headdresses moving amidst the architecture. Often, you do this best and are influenced least by turning off the sound, putting some period music on the stereo, and just watching without connecting with the plot.

Barry Lyndon ****

Technological advances allowed this to be shot by natural light, including candlelight. Slooooow going, as action-packed as a novel of the period. Turn off the sound, put on some chamber music, watch this with a friend and discuss the visual details to death. T3

Dangerous Liasons ****

You're writing in this period and you haven't seen this? Gorgeous visuals. T3

On the other hand, there are some good documentaries out there, too.

Salamandre: Chateaux of the Loire ***

The Voyager Company, 1988; laserdisc, 30 min.
Tours eighteen of the chateaux, which may provide you with grounds and interior for one of your settings. T3


The Alchemy Web Site and Virtual Library ****

"70 megabytes of information on alchemy in all its facets. Divided into over 1300 sections and providing thousands of pages of text, over 1700 images, over 200 complete alchemical texts, extensive bibliographical material on the printed books and manuscripts, numerous articles, introductory and general reference material. There is also a searchable graphics database with 800 images, and a database of alchemy books with 4600 entries and 5 megs of text. It was first launched on 7th May 1995 and new pages are continually being added. There are about 400 people accessing this site each day."

Yes, alchemy was still a going concern. St. Germaine and Cagliostro were both involved in it.

Eighteenth Century Costume Resources Online ****

Tons of illustrations on all aspects from shoes to hairstyles.


Heraldica ****

Over 200 articles on the succession, courts, development of titles, lines of descent, legalities of claims to titles, etc. on the upper classes of Europe. Some refer back as far as this period. These are topics often covered nowhere at all. As well, portrait galleries of various families can be found.

H-GIG Historical Times & Places ***

A thorough-going linksite maintained by the University of California at Riverside, H-GIG sorts by area, by era (ancient, Medieval, early Modern, Modern<yours>, and 20th C), or by topic (military, women, etc.). It's a good place to start a hunt for books and essays online.

  • Leave for H-GIG


The History of Costume ***

125 pages of images from the book "History of Costume" printed in 1861 in Munich. The 500 figures cover "historical dress from antiquity to the end of the 19th century." Victorianized drawings, but it's T1


The Phrenology Page ***

"Phrenology is the science which studies the relationships between a person's character and the morphology of the skull." Includes a historical overview, definitions of words and concepts, and images with meanings of various characteristics.

Maps of Switzerland****

German language site provides them from 1549-1939


17th Century England Resources

Children's author Candie Moonshower has a wonderful review of numerous books on the subject, with remarks on their usefulness or relative values.


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