In Regency England the London season—from the end of January, when Parliament reopened, until July—brought members of the titled peerage into the city to conduct government. Meanwhile, their wives held balls and parties to network. Known as the “Ton,” they were comprised of a few hundred wealthy families whose strict codes of conduct, fashion, and social customs dictated who and what was socially acceptable. They were the celebrities of the early 19th century, engaged in what was described as "a business of pleasure."
Historian Julie Taddeo examines the men and women who lived "in the fashionable mode" and whose lives were tightly circumscribed. Exacting rules guided members of the Ton and their families: how they were introduced at court, what they wore, when they debuted, how they courted, who they married, where they lived, and what work men did—or didn’t. It was not easy to gain entry to this elite circle, as fans of the popular “Bridgerton” series know, and anything done beyond its rigid proscriptions was enough to render the offender ignored—or worse. Eventually the Ton was forced to change over time to welcome non-aristocratic members into their ranks or risk dying off.
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