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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Love Letters During the Regency by Jenna Jaxon

Letter writing was a very popular occupation during the Regency period. Everyone, it seems, corresponded with friends, relatives, business associates—just about anyone with whom one wished to communicate.

Of course, this includes young ladies and gentlemen in love. However, there were lots of rules to letter writing, as I found out when plotting my current WIP, It Happened at Christmas, which depends greatly on the correspondence between the hero and heroine—who do not know one another.
One of the biggest hurdles to my plot was the circumspection of letter writing between the sexes. A young lady simply could not write to someone of the opposite sex unless it was her betrothed, her husband, or a member of her immediate family to whom she could not be married (father, grandfather, uncle—cousins were eligible partis and therefore forbidden), and as all correspondence sent through the mail went through the lady of the house, it was difficult at best (and mostly impossible) for a young lady in love to write to a gentleman for whom she had affection. I managed to find a way around this, but it was not easy!

Once a young lady was betrothed, she could write to her intended and have the missive sent by a private carrier, such a s footman, or through the regular mail service. By the time of the Regency, the post was quite well regulated, with mail delivery within the city occurring up to twelve times a day, according to one source. Mail was delivered to the country outside of London three times a day. In outlying larger towns, like Bath, the post could be delivered two to three times a day.

As I have written about letter writing in an earlier post, I will simply remind you, gentle readers, that letters of the period usually had no
envelopes, were often cross-written (written down the page, then the page was turned and written across again) and were closed with sealing wax. The recipient of the letter would have to pay the postage, a small price (anywhere from 3 pence to 12 pence depending on the distance the letter had to travel) to receive word from the one you loved.

Photo Credits:
Cross Written letter attribution By Jag Films - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Wax Seal attribution By User:Contrafool, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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