I thought I had a pretty good handle on how to address a lady or gentleman of the Regency Period. In the midst of editing my latest novel, however, I’ve learned so much about the intricacies of this seemingly simple occurance. A man walks in, he says hello, the lady responds. That’s it, right?
Oh, no. There is so much more to it.
One of the things I learned through reading various blog posts was that a gentleman must ask to be introduced to a lady. And the lady may decline! She could just say, no and walk away. I find it fascinating how behaviors change over time. I feel like you couldn’t pull that off today without being called rude. Back in the Regency period, it was considered a way that a lady could protect herself from unwanted acquaintances.
Also, a person of higher rank must acknowledge you first. If they do not ask for an introduction, you cannot. Think Mr Collins embarrassing Elizabeth by going up and introducing himself to Mr Darcy, a man of superior rank. Gasp!
This knowledge has been incredibly helpful to me while crafting my stories. If you’re interested in learning more, check out these blog posts: