London, 1818

Or, Even The Google Isn’t Helping with These Details

One of the funnest (read: most annoying for a stickler short on time) parts of researching a historical period is having to extrapolate the details you need from a variety of sources.

In this case, I need the exact dates of the London social season for 1818. I have seen various references to the season starting after Easter, or running from May-July, or running from April-June, or coinciding with Parliament, which sat from January until sometime between June and August.  Almack’s was open for 12 weeks at the height of the formal season.

Here is what I know for sure:

  • The season (as defined by the 12 weeks of Almack’s) started no later than April 15, based on a letter dated April 16 that mentioned going to Almack’s the night before.
  • Parliament sat until June 10 that year.
  • Easter was about as early as it can ever be (March 22).

From all of this I am extrapolating that the season of 1818 was April through mid-June. It’s possible it started the last week of March (although doubtful, as ladies would need more than a couple days to travel down to London if they really didn’t leave the country until after Easter), and it’s possible that it kicked off mid-April (with the 15th being the first assembly) and ran to the end of June, Parliamentary sessions or no Parliamentary session. But, lacking any solid research to contradict my most educated guess, I’m calling it as getting into full swing in early April.

It’s not a big thing, really, because my heroine is not a debutante (or even part of polite society–she’s on the fringes), but she would be very aware of the season because it directly impacts what she is doing with her life, and it affects the hero, as well, because he is still part of le bon ton.  Still, it’s important for me not to be blatantly wrong, especially on things I could easily look up and ascertain. In this case, if I’m wrong, at least it won’t be by more than a couple weeks, and after making a legitmate effort to find out for sure….


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