Thursday, September 27, 2007

'Twas the Season

Around the country, students are either working away at their first quarter of school or about to start it. In fact, our daily lives often revolve around the school year calendar and its holidays. Not so in 19th century England. Among the upper classes in those days, the year revolved around the Season.

The Season—when everyone who was anyone packed their bags and headed for London. To hear some tell, it was one endless party: balls, musicales, Venetian breakfasts (which are held in the afternoon, but that’s another post!), soirees, routs (can someone please tell me the difference?). On any given night you could also choose among events at the many theatres, such as a famous actor reciting Shakespeare, a diva singer at the opera, or a plucky pantomime. During the day, you’d make morning calls (also in the afternoon) on anyone you’d met the nights before so you could wrangle invitations to more balls, routs, the opera, etc. And of course, you’d visit your tailor or a seamstress for new outfits, ride in Hyde Park, tour the sights, enjoy a horserace or, if you were really daring, a boxing match, and do a thousand other things only a large city like London can offer.

So when did all this revelry happen? The Season wasn’t a specific set of days, like December 25 is Christmas. This whirlwind of activity generally started spinning after Easter Sunday, which can be anywhere from the middle of March to the end of April, and ended when Parliament adjourned for the summer, somewhere between early July and mid-August. Some people think there was also a “Little Season” in the fall, but no one has been able to pin it down. It may be that the Little Season was only held when Parliament decided to sit during the fall, which happened six times from 1810 to 1820.

Even today, prices for hotel rooms in London go up after Easter and come down in the fall. How do I know? I’m going to London! (Picture me doing a little happy dance at my computer.) Yes, it’s shocking—I’ve written 18 books set in England and I’ve never been able to go there. Thanks to a whole lot of frequent flyer miles and Marriott hotel points, I’m heading to London with my wonderful critique partner in late February/early March.

Before the Season starts.

5 comments:

Nancy Haddock said...

Another terrific post! This is my new habit -- sure glad it's a healthy one!

I'm spreading the word about NineteenTeen!

Oh, and have a fabulous time in England. It's on my list of places to visit, too!

Regina Scott said...

Nancy,

Thanks so much! We're so glad you enjoy the blog.

Writers so often publish a book and then hear very little from readers; there just isn't a good way to leave feedback in print. I'm finding this blog amazing in that people actually write back!

How cool is that!

Cara King said...

I'm sure you'll have a great time, Regina! What are you going to see? (Or is that the subject of a future post???) :-)

Cara

Regina Scott said...

Definitely future posts, Cara! We did a first-cut of our "must see" places and realized we couldn't even see all those!

I most want to see where my characters lived and walked and shopped and danced and . . .

Camilla Bartley said...

The "Little Season" was, according to my research, "wherein those connected with the government, the diplomatic corps, those of the gentry who had no large estates, the lawyers and literary people remained in Town for the most part from November, with an interval of a fortnight at Christmas. A more intimate gathering of society, it was the prelude to being accepted into the social round the following year". I write Edwardians, but I figure it was in existence for the entire 19th century.