A photograph of the Duke and Daphne from Bridgerton. Image: Netflix

Can't get enough? Regé-Jean Page and Phoebe Dynevor in Bridgerton. Image: Netflix

Fun, frothy and not short of frills, Bridgerton has become one of the most successful Netflix creations of all time, with 82 households tuning into the series within its first month. The only downside of it being so infectious? Within a few days, it’s quite easy to have binged the lot.

If you’ve got an appetite for Georgiana – and you're all out of Bridgerton-like fiction – why not extend your knowledge of Regency society by diving into non-fiction about the era. These reads will deepen your understanding of “The Ton” and plenty more besides, perfectly in time for season two’s arrival.

On the Royal Family

George III: Majesty and Madness by Jeremy Black

In comparison to the gulf-like distance kept between the Royals and their subjects in The Crown, Queen Charlotte is very much at the heart of society in Bridgerton. Played by Golda Rosheuvel in the series, Charlotte’s still-discussed racial heritage becomes an important narrative point in the show. Less is seen, however, of her husband King George III. Historically known as “The Mad King”, it is now thought George had bipolar disorder. George III: Majesty and Madness by Jeremy Black is a slim but pertinent book that will fill in the gaps, showing the king’s commitment to the arts, architecture and science and reviewing major policy, such as death penalties.

An Aristocratic Affair by Janet Gleeson

For more of an outsider’s take Janet Gleeson’s An Aristocratic Affair, a biography of Harriet Spencer, Countess of Bessborough. The woman was great-great-great-aunt of Diana, Princess of Wales, but more intriguingly dallied with royal circles, becoming a favourite of Marie Antoinette and spurning the advances of Prince Regent, while witnessing George III’s antics from the inside.

On London society

Georgian London: Into the Streets by Lucy Inglis

It’s mostly the very top echelons of “The Ton” that Bridgerton viewers are privy to, which means there’s plenty more of Georgian London to read about – not least as the subject has inspired plenty of books. Lucy Inglis’s Georgian London: Into the Streets will offer a good overview, giving insight into those parts of Bridgerton that were only hinted at – the asylums of Hackney and dirty dealings of Cheapside – as well as the gilded drawing rooms we are more accustomed to thanks to the show.

Journals and Letters by Frances Burney

But for take that’s more Lady Whistledown, read Frances Burney’s Journals and Letters. Burney was a novelist and playwright who kept a diary from the age of 15 until her death. A debutante, her first-hand account details the court of Queen Charlotte and mingling with the likes of Napoleon. The collection may be 624 pages long, but don’t let that put you off – Burney is a deliciously observant gossip, who captures the insanity of everything from masked balls (attended by, in one instance, a nun, a “pink domino”, a shepherd and “a very droll old Dutch man”) to undergoing a mastectomy without anaesthetic.

On sex and scandal

The Scandalous Lady W by Hallie Rubenhold

It’s not nicknamed Bonkerton for nothing. But while Bridgerton’s copious sex scenes may have run up column inches, the fascination with the more salacious activities of the era isn’t new. Before she wrote award-winning bestseller The Five, Hallie Rubenhold wrote The Scandalous Lady W: An Eighteenth-Century Tale of Sex, Scandal and Divorce. Described as “deliciously lurid” by The Sunday Times, Rubenhold’s biography of Lady Worsley, a woman whose fairytale marriage descended into one of the most highly publicised divorces in history contains more passionate challenges to social convention than a Duke fan could ask for.

The Secret History of Georgian London by Dan Cruickshank

There’s also The Secret History of Georgian London by Dan Cruickshank, an examination of how the sprawling sex industry of the time managed to affect decisions made at the very top of society. If you’ve been intrigued by the scenes of sex workers spilling into gentlemen’s clubs, and the intricacies of the arrangement between Anthony and opera singer Siena (thought to be based on contemporary courtesan Harriette Wilson), get this on your to-read pile.

On bohemians

The First Bohemians by Vic Gatrell

Let’s face it: the balls are pretty and all, but the best parties are clearly hosted by Henry Granville. These Dionysian scenes (wine-quaffing! Bannister-riding! Bed-hopping! Convention-stopping!) are given historical context in Vic Gatrell’s The First Bohemians, a book that celebrates the drunkenness, sex and art of 18th-century London. And, much as Granville’s earthy pleasures ground the levity of the society balls, so Gatrell argues that to understand Georgian society properly, one must take in its grubbier aspects.

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