Beaux, Bucks, Rakes, and Dandies: Georgette Heyer’s Most Dashing Heroes

If you are looking for rugged, alpha-males in historical costume, Georgette Heyer may not be the romance author for you.  The typical Heyer hero is as concerned with the cut of his coat and the starched folds of his cravat as he is with romancing the heroine. Regency Men's Costume 1813 And who can blame him?  Tying a cravat is a serious business.

“Sit down, Fitz,” says Perry in Regency Buck when a friend interrupts him while he is dressing, “and don’t move, don’t speak, till I’ve done with this neck-cloth!”

That’s not to say that our gentlemen of fashion are not up to the mark in other areas.  Whether possessed of a “punishing left” like Lord Worth in Regency Buck or “the most notable whip in the country” like Robert Beaumaris in Arabella, Georgette Heyer’s leading men are physically, as well as fashionably, formidable.

Last week, you cast your votes for the most fashionable Heyer heroine.  This week, it is only fair that the gentlemen have a chance to compete.  Mind you, the competition for the most dashing Heyer hero is fierce.  For every plain, medium height, modestly dressed Gilly from The Foundling, there are five tall, broad-shouldered, dandified gents with coats cut by Weston, boots made by Hoby, and biscuit-colored pantaloons clinging to powerful legs.

Never fear.  After eliminating the stylish secondary characters (as well as fashionable figures from history such as Beau Brummel), I have managed to whittle the list down to five worthy contenders.

Our first contestant is the original Regency Buck, Julian St. John Audley, Fifth Earl of Worth.  Arrogant, affected, and a bit of a bully, we first meet Lord Worth when he pulls his curricle over to the side of the road to exchange words with Judith Taverner and her brother, Perry, after a carriage accident.  As Judith observes:Regency Pride and Prejudice

 “He was the epitome of a man of fashion.  His beaver hat was set over black locks  carefully brushed into a semblance of disorder; his cravat of starched muslin supported his chin in a series of beautiful folds; his driving-coat of drab cloth bore no less than fifteen capes, and a double row of silver buttons.  Miss Taverner had to own him a very handsome creature, but found no difficulty in detesting the whole cast of his countenance.”

Our second contestant is The Corinthian, Sir Richard Wyndham.  Humorous, kind, and keen for adventure, Sir Richard is described by his brother-in-law George as:

“…a very notable Corinthian.  From his Windswept hair (most difficult of all styles to achieve), to the toes of his gleaming Hessians, he might have posed as an advertisement for the Man of Fashion.  His fine shoulders set off a coat of superfine cloth to perfection; his cravat, which had excited George’s admiration, had been arranged by the hands of a master; his waistcoat was chosen with a nice eye; his biscuit-coloured pantaloons showed not one crease; and his Hessians with their jaunty gold tassels, had not only been made for him by Hoby, but were polished, George suspected, with a blacking mixed with champagne.”

Our third contestant is the Honourable Frederick Standen from Cotillion.  Who doesn’t love Freddy?  He is loyal, good-hearted, and when push comes to shove, he can even throw a punch.  We meet Freddy when his chaise draws up outside the Blue Boar on the night all the eligible male cousins have been summoned to Arnside House to vie for the hand of Kitty Charing.  Heyer tells us that:

Regency Gentleman and Lady“The young gentleman who alighted from the chaise must have been recognized at sight by the discerning as a Pink of the Ton, for although his judgment, which, in all matters of Fashion, was  extremely nice, had forbidden him to travel into the country arrayed in the long-tailed coat of blue superfine, the pantaloons of delicate yellow, and the tasselled Hessian boots which marked him in the Metropolis as a veritable Tulip, or Bond Street Beau, none but a regular Dash, patronizing the most exclusive of tailors, could have presented himself in so exquisitely moulded a riding-coat, such peerless breeches, or such effulgent top-boots.”

Our fourth contestant is none other than that arbiter of fashion himself, Robert Beaumaris from Arabella.  Wealthy, witty, and able to make or break a reputation with the elevation of an eyebrow, there is a reason that Mr. Beaumaris is known as the “Nonpareil.”  When our innocent, young heroine first makes his acquaintance, Regency Gentleman Print 1818she observes that his coat of olive-green superfine is:

 “…a garment so exquisitely cut that it presented all the appearance of having been moulded to its wearer’s form.  A very good form, too, she noted, with approval.  No need of buckram wadding, such as that Knaresborough tailor had inserted into Bertram’s new coat, to fill out those shoulders! And how envious Bertram would have been of Mr. Beaumaris’s fine legs, sheathed in tight pantaloons, with gleaming Hessian boots pulled over them!”

Our fifth and final contestant comes to us from the Georgian era with a wardrobe that is the epitome of Parisian sartorial splendor.  A truly dangerous man with vengeance (and fashion) on his mind, one glimpse of Justin Alastair, the notorious Duke of Avon from These Old Shades says it all:

“A long purple cloak, rose-lined, hung from his shoulders and was allowed to fall carelessly back from his dress, revealing a full-skirted coat of purple satin, heavily laced with gold; a waistcoat of flowered silk; faultless small clothes; and a lavish sprinkling of jewels on his cravat and breast.  A three-cornered hat, point-edged, was set upon his powdered wig, and in his hand he carried a long beribboned cane.”

Cast your vote for the Most Dashing Heyer Hero!  There are no limits on how many times you can vote and, as always, if you have a preference for another of Georgette Heyer’s impeccably dressed historical leading men (Philip Jettan from Powder and Patch, Sir Waldo Hawkridge from The Nonesuch, or Lord Rule from The Convenient Marriage, to name a few), I encourage you to write in your choice below.

The Poll is Now Closed.

The Results:

1st Place: Robert Beaumaris from Arabella with 29% of the vote.

2nd Place: The Duke of Avon from These Old Shades with 23% of the vote.

3rd Place: The Honorable Frederick Standen from Cotillion with 14% of the vote.

4th Place: The Earl of Worth from Regency Buck with 12% of the vote.

5th Place: Sir Richard Wyndham from The Corinthian with 11% of the vote.

Honorable Mention to the Earl of Rule from The Convenient Marriage who garnered two votes by write-in.

The following write-in contestants garnered one vote each: Lord Alverstoke from Frederica; Charles Audley from Regency Buck; Sylvester from Sylvester; Sir Waldo Hawkridge from The Nonesuch; Charles Rivenhall from The Grand Sophy; Max Ravenscar from Faro’s Daughter; Lord Damerel from Venetia; Hugo Darracot from The Unknown Ajax; and Phillip Jettan from Powder and Patch.

Thank you for voting!

Mimi Matthews is the author of The Pug Who Bit Napoleon: Animal Tales of the 18th and 19th Centuries (to be released by Pen and Sword Books in November 2017).  She researches and writes on all aspects of nineteenth century history—from animals, art, and etiquette to fashion, beauty, feminism, and law. 

© 2015-2017 Mimi Matthews

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10 thoughts on “Beaux, Bucks, Rakes, and Dandies: Georgette Heyer’s Most Dashing Heroes

    • Mimi Matthews says:

      It was near impossible to whittle the list down to only five! And that didn’t even take into account “Pistols for Two” in which every hero in each short story seems to be a dashing Corinthian. Good thing the voting is unlimited!
      Thanks for commenting and voting, Barbara 🙂


    • Mimi Matthews says:

      She wrote amazing characters. And they still resonate today with readers from all over the world. I see the countries of origin when people come to vote in the polls and am so amazed by the reach she had. There are literally Heyer fans everywhere!


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