An Introduction to Introductions

Description=Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle as Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in a dramatisation of Jane Austen’s “Pride & Prejudice” for the BBC, pictured at Harrow School, Harrow on the Hill – 28.08.1994. Copyright Alan Weller / The Times.

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.

A primer

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:

Making Introductions in Jane Austen’s World by Maria Grace

Introductions in the Regency Era from Historical Romance Review

10 Dos and Don’ts to Become a Lady in Regency England from The History Collection