Rock Stars of the Regency: The Gentlemen (Part 2), and What Jane Might Have Thought

“But how is your fame to be established? for famous you must be to satisfy all your family; and with no inclination for expense, no affection for strangers, no profession, and no assurance, you may find it a difficult matter.”–Mrs. Dashwood to Edward Ferrars, Sense and Sensibility

Who were the most famous celebrities of the Regency period, and what would Jane Austen have thought of them? Last week we looked at courtesan Emma Hamilton, actress Dora Jordan, and novelist Fanny Burney; I suggested that actress Sarah Siddons and novelist Maria Edgeworth were other celebrities.

This week is the gentlemen’s turn. The Prince Regent and Lord Byron were justifiably famous–and infamous. Lord Byron wrote passionate, Romantic poetry that is still admired today. Both gentlemen, though, were known for their love affairs and their extravagance and debts.

I suggest we add another admired gentleman of the Regency, who everyone would have admitted was a much better man: William Wilberforce. He was different from the others in almost every way, but still amazingly popular.

For the full story, check out my post on Jane Austen’s World!

What characteristics do you think make a person worth admiring? What would you admire, and not admire, about these three famous men?

(Image is Lord Byron, replica by Thomas Phillips
circa 1835, based on a work of 1813, © National Portrait Gallery, London, Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).)

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