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Guest Post and Giveaway: Twelfth Night in Regency England by Regan Walker, Author of The Twelfth Night Wager

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Curious on the tradition of Christmas celebration in Regency England? Then read on the following guest post by author Regan Walker! Alongside the post, you'll also find the info on The Twelfth Night Wager, an excerpt and the author links. To be entered in the giveaway, you must comment. As many comment you make, your chance of winning increases!

Regan Walker will be awarding a copy of three (3) of her books, Racing with the Wind, The Holly and the Thistle and The Shamrock and the Rose to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.  

  
Twelfth Night in Regency England

Christmastide in Regency England (1811-1820), when Prince George reigned as Regent, was a more subtle celebration than the one we observe today. It began with Christmas Eve (though the evening of Christmas Day was “First Night”) and continued to Twelfth Night, or January 5th, followed by the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th when the wise men that followed the star of the new King, arrived in Bethlehem to behold the Christ child.

Twelfth Night has its origins in ancient Rome and was a mid-winter event observing pagan fertility rites, a festival of feasting and public celebration. At some point, this tradition became incorporated into the Christian celebrations and included feasting, drinking, games, plays, dances and masked balls. Shakespeare's play, Twelfth Night, which includes characters disguised as people they are not, was written to be performed on Twelfth Night.

In additional to all the revelry, there was a Twelfth Night cake, an ornate confection into which a bean, a coin or a tiny carved or cast metal version of the Baby Jesus was placed (it could also be a bean). During early evening, the cake was cut and its pieces distributed to guests who were advised to chew carefully. The person who found the icon then became the king or “Lord of Misrule,” or the Bean King. His Queen Consort or the Queen of Twelfth Night was the woman who found a dried pea in the cake. The king and queen reigned for the evening, no matter their normal status in society.

By the late 18th century, the selection of Twelfth Night's "royalty" could also be accomplished by the distribution of paper slips with each piece of cake. The slips were opened and the person holding the one with a special mark inside was declared the king.

During Jane Austen’s life time, the celebration of Twelfth Night was at the height its of popularity. Sets of “characters” were available to purchase from enterprising stationers. They were cut up into small papers and the slips were chosen from a hat. Whatever character the person drew became their identity for the evening. In my novella, The Twelfth Night Wager, the heroine hopes to play Susie Salamander.

Fanny Knight, Edward Austen Knight’s daughter and Jane Austen’s niece, wrote about some of her Twelfth Night Celebrations in Kent. Here’s her report of the Twelfth Night celebration in 1809:
…after Dessert Aunt Louisa who was the only person to know the characters…took one by one  out of the room and equipped them, put them into separate rooms and lastly dressed herself. We were all conducted into the library and performed our different parts. Papa and the little ones from Lizzy downwards knew nothing of it  and it was so well managed  that none of the characters knew one another ..Aunt Louisa and L.Deeds were Dominos; F.Cage, Frederica Flirt (which she did excellently); M.Deeds, Orange Woman; Mama, Shepherdess; Self Fortune Teller; Edward, beau; G, Irish Postboy; Henry Watchman; William, Harlequin; we had such frightful masks that it was enough to kill one with laughing at putting them on and altogether it went off very well and quite answered our expectations.

Though by Jane Austen’s time the cake may not have been used to assist in the choosing of characters, it was still an important part of the celebration. They were costly and complicated to make and, if they could afford to do so, many people bought them from confectioners’ shops.

In my Christmas novella, The Twelfth Night Wager, two men at White’s club, one of whom is known as the “red headed rake,” make a scandalous wager involving a virtuous widow. The wager, by its terms, must be won or lost by Twelfth Night. The story includes all the fall activities in London and the countryside (pheasant shooting, fox hunting and riding), as well as the Christmastide celebrations leading up to Twelfth Night.

It’s not too late to experience the season!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18753284-the-twelfth-night-wagerThe Twelfth Night Wager
Regan Walker

On a dull day at White’s, the Redheaded Rake agreed to a wager: seduce and abandon the lovely Lady Leisterfield by Twelfth Night. After one taste of her virtue, he will stop at nothing less than complete possession.

An Excerpt from The Twelfth Night Wager:

Eustace slowed the horses and guided the phaeton to the side of the path. Holding the reins in one hand, he turned to face to her. His eyes seemed to glow in the dim light.

“I never would have thought the serene Lady Leisterfield would be so stimulated by a ride in the park. You are flushed and your eyes bright. I do think you enjoyed our dash through the Row.”

“Yes, I quite liked it,” Grace said, breathless. “Though you must admit, the ride was more like a race.”

He looked at her lips and then her neck. “I can see your pulse jumping. Perhaps you like to race as much as I do.”

Grace wondered if he was still speaking of horses or something else. Her heart sped as he leaned toward her and brushed his lips across hers. After only a moment, she pulled back.

“Too soon?” he asked.

“That question implies such is inevitable, my lord. I can assure you it is not.”

 

About the Author:

As a child Regan Walker loved to write stories, particularly about adventure-loving girls, but by the time she got to college more serious pursuits took priority. One of her professors thought her suited to the profession of law, and Regan realized it would be better to be a hammer than a nail. Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown” on its subjects. Hence her romance novels often involve a demanding Prince Regent who thinks of his subjects as his private talent pool.

Author Links:

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(Note: I'm not responsible for the contents for the above post as all were provided to me by Goddess Fish Promotions. ~Punya)

12 comments:

Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Punya said...

You're welcome! :)

Regan said...

Thanks for having me on your blog, Punya!

Linda said...

Imagine celebrating for 12 days! I wouldn't mind a 12 day Xmas holiday :)

Regan said...

Linda, you are right! I think the way they celebrated was much better and integrated their faith into all of it.

Debra Lambert-Stone said...

The Twelfth Night Wager, I need to go look for these books now--I love stories like this one---thank you so much for this chance to win them-- :-)

Regan said...

Hi, Debra! Thanks for stopping by. You can see all my stories on my website including the trailers for my three novels.

Punya said...

You're welcome Ms. Walker! xx

Punya said...

Linda and Debra, thanks for stopping by. :)

Mary Preston said...

A most informative post thank you.

marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Punya said...

Hi Mary, thanks for commenting. :)

Regan said...

Thanks for stopping by, Mary. So glad you enjoyed the post.

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I'm a simple girl. I love to read in my spare time and do reviews the books I read. I also write, mostly songs/poems, though I'm not published. I love music and traveling. Sometimes, I wish I could live inside a book, having my own HEA. :)
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