Yes, Yes, Sir Jasper!

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I am a Georgette Heyer fan. There. In the full knowledge that many, probably most, of those who consider themselves serious readers will react to such a statement with a disdainful curl of the lip, I’ve said it. And over the nearly fifty years since I read my first Georgette Heyer, just enough other fans have stuck their heads above the parapet for me to know that I’m in good company.

We are a disparate bunch, a secret society so secret that we don’t even know who else belongs. We have her books so we don’t need each other. If we are rumbled – an inquisitive visitor comes across a row of her titles while perusing our bookshelves, say, or we leave a copy of our latest reread (her books must be reread more than those of any other author) open on the table – we brace ourselves for a sneer and rehearse a casual disclaimer. This is invariably met with a disbelieving ‘Hmm’ and a change of subject, but we have heard the clunk of our fall in their estimation. Strangely, this predictable scenario is almost easier to deal with than the obverse, for if the rumbler turns out to be another fan we will almost immediately fall out. The delighted ‘Oh you read Georgette Heyer too!’ is always followed by ‘Which is your favourite?’ And then the arguing starts. ‘How can you like The Toll Gate more than Devil’s Cub? There’s no comparison.’ ‘Friday’s Child better than The Grand Sophy? Never!’ Perhaps, all things considered, we do better to keep our devotion to ourselves.

Georgette Heyer was renowned for keeping herself to herself. Throughout more than fifty years as a best-selling author, she refused to be interviewed, never made a public appearance and only rarely replied to fan letters. Little is known about her early life beyond that she was born in Wimbledon in 1902, the eldest child and only daughter of Sylvia Watkins and George Heyer, and that she was educated in London and Paris.

It was possibly her father’s intriguing background that inspired Georgette with a love of the romantic. The son of a Russian émigré and fluent in several languages, George Heyer attended King’s College School, London, and Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, in anticipation of a life of gentlemanly leisure, reading p

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About the contributor

Julia Keay gave up trying to emulate Georgette Heyer when she was about 15 (although she still dreams of writing the film script for These Old Shades, as long as she has control of the casting). Her last book, Alexander the Corrector, was a biography of Alexander Cruden; her next will be a biography of Begum Sumru.

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Comments & Reviews

  1. Nicki Faircloth says:

    Total bliss – I have been rereading my Georgette Heyers as I recover from a bug which meant that Christmas totally passed me by so it was perfect to find this in my inbox once I returned to email. Yes they are good for post-flu or whatever, but they are also really well researched. The appearances of Horace Walpole and George Selwyn for example are as accurate as they can be and help to set an intellectually satisfying context. As for my favourite – perhaps the one I will read next!

  2. Ray Perry says:

    I was so intrigued to read your comments about Gerogette Heyer. I was introduced to them when I was at School at about twelve or thirteen and have read every single one since then over and over again. They are really wonderful. My favourites are These Old Shades and theToll Gate but I love them all. Who couldn’t.

  3. Anne Fisher says:

    How lovely to sit and relax on Christmas Eve after a busy slightly fraught ‘family’ day and read that wonderful appreciatve article about Georgette Heyer. I have Devils Cub by my bedside now and cannot wait to go to bed and wallow in another chapter. I am 86yo and have every one of her books, each read many, many times and each time as fresh as when read for the first time. The research and language second to none. Thank you!

  4. olivia hugill says:

    Thank you for this. You may be interested to know that there is an active (and far from secret) Heyer fan club among the upper reaches of regular solvers of The Times cryptics – the kind who compete in the annual championship. I can’t post a link here because it will be treated as spam but if you do happen to be interested and search for Times Cryptic 27058 from June 7th of this year in Livejournal Times for the Times you will find a typical comment (scroll to the second comment down). I am far from the only one and there are as many males as females!

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