Highlighting the facts behind the fiction with Elizabeth Ellen Carter
The late Georgian period is known for its revolutions – most strikingly the American and French Revolutions. It was also the beginning a social revolution known today as the Enlightenment period.
The turn of the 19th century marked the beginning of another revolution – the industrial revolution. While we often associate that rise of great industry with the Victorian era – exemplified emergence of steam locomotive transport – it is during the Regency period we see its foundation.
In Britain, by 1800 an estimated 10,000 horsepower was being supplied by steam. By 1815 steam power had grown to 210,000 hp.
One of the industries to see the biggest change was the textile industry. Cloth making could now be done on a larger industrial scale much faster than a weaver on single loom by hand.
In 1803 there were 2400 looms in Great Britain, by 1820 the number jumped to 14,650 and leaped higher in 1829 with 55,500 looms in the UK. Merchandised spinning started as early as the 1780 and with inventions such as the Cartwright Loom, the Spinning Mule and the Boulton and Watt steam engines, high quality cloth was now more affordable.
It also provided employment for women, giving them greater economic independence. In fact, economists agree that the Industrial Revolution was the single most important event in human history since the domestication of animals.
It’s effects have been far reaching more than 200 years later with the foundation of the modern economy we recognize today.
In addition to textiles, the Regency-era Industrial Revolution saw the rise of gas lighting, improvements to the production of iron and steel, the increased use of the steam engine, and the production of sheet glass.
One of the great things about writing historical romance, particularly in this time period, is the opportunity to showcase a world at the brink of change.
It could very well be argued that Regency remains popular because it is the beginning of our modern era but with the mores and strictures of a period long past.
In other words, it is ‘near’ enough in the historical scheme of things to be familiar, and yet different enough to give a few hours of escapism.
But as we go on with our days, we ought to take a moment to look around us with a little wonder and gratitude for the things we have around us that generations before ours could only dream of, and recognize that many of these things came about because of the innovations in the Regency era.
I touch on the textile industry in my upcoming story Deceiving The Duke, coming out in early 2022. In it, the heroine’s father invented (fictitiously, of course) a threaded punch card system for weaving which turns out to be a pivotal part of this story.
About the Author
Elizabeth Ellen Carter is an award-winning historical romance writer who pens richly detailed historical romantic adventures. A former newspaper journalist, Carter ran an award-winning PR agency for 12 years. The author lives in Australia with her husband and two cats.
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