Georgette Heyer
Georgette Heyer, the “virtual inventor” of Regency romance and its “comedy of manners,” – #TheWomanAlchemist for the month of August – Women Inspiring Women and everyone else – #MonthlyFeature
August 13, 2023

The PeopleAlchemist Edit: #theWomanAlchemist #MonthlyFeature #womanofthemonth – Georgette Heyer



Hello, and welcome back to the #TheWomanAlchemist monthly feature, Georgette Heyer an English author born on 16 August 1920 in Wimbledon, London. She was well known for her Regency and Georgian historical romance novels. Heyer was a best-selling author whose writing career produced works from various genres, including thirty-two romantic novels, six historical stories, four contemporary books, and twelve in the detective fiction genre.

Her first novel, published in 1921, The Black Moth, was developed from a story she had written for her sickly younger brother Boris. The Georgian book set the formula for most of her future novels – romance, a historical backdrop, aristocratic characters, and a “saturnine” male lead. She continued writing more Georgian books until her novel Faro’s Daughter (1941).

At the beginning of her career, Heyer experimented with different literary genres, releasing four serious contemporary novels between 1922 and 1930, all of which enjoyed multiple reprints. The author later suppressed them.


Georgette Heyer – Regency Romance


Her fame is mainly due to her Regency novels, which made her a household name. The first, Regency Buck, became an instant best-seller in 1935. The book narrates the story of an affluent English independent heiress who comes to clash with London’s social norms but eventually conforms to them. These qualities are then seen in many other of her heroines. Gradually, Heyer developed a “distinct, light-hearted” style. 

In 1940 her Regency novel The Corinthian established elements common in her future work: intelligent plotting, soft comedic components, and a writing manner reminiscent of the Regency era. From this point onward, her output consisted mainly of Regency novels, a collection of works totalling twenty-six by her death in 1974.

Heyer animated the past for her contemporary readers through her meticulous portrait of historical detail by researching every available aspect of her chosen plot settings. Despite the popularity of her romance fiction, Heyer did not regard herself as a romance writer and had uncertain emotions towards the genre.


Georgette Heyer – Historical novels


In 1931 she published The Conqueror, a historical novel which depicted the early years of William I. The careful detail in her 1937 historical romance, An Infamous Army, attracted critical acclaim. Her other novels have yet to reach this level of positive critical opinion.

Although she desired to write “the magnum opus of my latter years,” a medieval trilogy featuring the House of Lancaster, she never completed it. Heyer faced pressure from enthusiastic readers to persist in publishing her favoured romance novels. Additionally, the tax penalties she dealt with were also an element. My Lord John (1975) was the only instalment of the Lancaster trilogy, which went unfinished and was published posthumously.


Georgette Heyer – Detective novels


With the help of her husband, who developed the murder basic formula in most of her detective novels, Heyer also delved into contemporary detective fiction. She published twelve detective novels between 1932 and 1953, when her final one, Detection Unlimited, appeared.


Georgette Heyer – Impact


Heyer’s romance novels have sold in huge numbers and had been translated into more than ten languages by her death. She is mainly recognised for her romance writings rather than for her efforts in other literary genres.

Heyer “virtually invent[ed]” the Regency romance novel and its “comedy of manners,” a genre also heavily impacted by Jane Austen. 

Heyer described herself as “a mixture of [Samuel] Johnson and Austen”. 

Pamela Regis cites Heyer’s impact in every historical romance novel published since 1921. Elizabeth Spillman also explains that because “her writing career spans the emerging of the romance as a publishing category, she was influential in shaping that genre.” 

Most of Heyer’s works are still in print and have been adapted for film, television, stage, and radio.


Where to start

Powder and Patch (1930), Regency Buck (1935), Cousin Kate (1968).

Interesting fact

When her publisher tried to suggest alterations to the language in one of her books, he was promptly informed by a member of staff that ‘No one in England knows more about Regency language than Georgette Heyer’!

I choose Heyer as this month’s feature because, besides the obvious fact that her books are well-written and engaging, as I writer I appreciate the fact the she wanted to write and tested herself in different genres. I also understand that sometimes, you need to write what the readers want and like. That is if you want to be commercially successful and make a living from writing.

And I like to celebrate women writers.




A few of the previous #TheWomanAlchemist blogs celebrating women writers:







Laura Mariani

Laura Mariani

Best Selling Author, Speaker, Change & Transformation Expert


Hi there, I hope you enjoyed this post. Please do provide me with feedback.

I want to hear ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’. If you disagree with me or want to provide a different perspective, leave a comment. Tell me what’s on your mind.

Do remember though to be respectful and kind – we can agree to disagree, no need to be nasty. Thank you.


Laura xxx

Join My Newsletter

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in my posts are ‘affiliate links‘. This means that if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, for example as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This is at no extra cost to you. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and absolutely would recommend to my readers.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!