- Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller by Jennifer Kloester
Heinemann, 448 pp, £20.00, October 2011, ISBN 978 0 434 02071 3
When I complained to my mother that I’d run out of Jane Austen novels, she handed me one by Georgette Heyer. ‘It isn’t quite the same,’ she said, and even then – I was 10 – I could see that it was and it wasn’t. The romantic interest and sharp dialogue were similar, though not so nuanced; the supporting cast of aunts and neighbours comic, but not so acutely depicted; the heroine just as spirited, if not nearly so reflective. Heyer’s first novel was published in 1921 and by the time she died in 1974 there were 55 of them, more than half of which were the 18th-century and Regency romances that had made her famous. By the late 1970s more than a million copies of her books were being sold every year in Britain alone; and apart from a few titles she chose to suppress they all remain in print.