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Arts & Culture

A VERY BRITISH ROMANCE WITH LUCY WORSLEY

Lucy Worsley with three suitors from Jane Austen’s "Sense and Sensibility," published in 1811.
Courtesy of BBC
Lucy Worsley with three suitors from Jane Austen’s "Sense and Sensibility," published in 1811.

Stream now or tune in Sundays, June 20 & 27, 2021 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV

Celebrate love with Lucy Worsley as she delves into the steamy and seductive history of British romance, uncovering the social, political and cultural forces that shaped ideals of romantic love during the Georgian and Victorian eras — ideals that surprisingly continue to resonate today.

EPISODE GUIDE:

Episode 1 airs Sunday, June 20 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV - Lucy's exploration of love's rituals begins in the Georgian age, when the old rules of courtship were being rewritten. Traditionally, marriage had been as much about business as love.

Lucy Worsley portrays Mary Granville Delany, who, as a teenager, was forced to marry an older man against her wishes.
Courtesy of BBC
Lucy Worsley portrays Mary Granville Delany, who, as a teenager, was forced to marry an older man against her wishes.

Now, a glamorization of romantic love inspired women and men to make their own romantic choices — they could flirt in newly-built assembly rooms, or elope to Gretna Green as an act of romantic rebellion.

The main force of change, however, was the arrival of the novel. Samuel Richardson, Fanny Burney and Jane Austen didn't just map out women's changing desires. They made people seek out the feelings and emotions described in the books in their own lives, permanently changing how their readers felt about love.

Episode 2 airs Sunday, June 27 at 8 p.m. on KPBS TV - Worsley discovers how medieval chivalry shaped Victorian courtship by defining the roles men and women were expected to play and explores the romantic gestures which emerged and continue today.

With the arrival of the Industrial Revolution, Valentine’s cards were mass-produced in factories and the “penny post” made it affordable to send a written expression of love, cementing this as a customary romantic gesture.

Lucy Worsley dressed as Jane Eyre with Rochester, characters from Charlotte Brontë’s novel.
Courtesy of BBC
Lucy Worsley dressed as Jane Eyre with Rochester, characters from Charlotte Brontë’s novel.

Lucy also learns about the complicated Victorian language of flowers, where each bloom represented a particular idea or emotion, allowing lovers to communicate secretly through their choice of bouquet.

Throughout the episode, Lucy dips into popular novels of the time, such as "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Brontë and "Ann Veronica" by H.G. Wells, discovering that the passions explored in fiction were translating into real-life desires and actions.

WATCH ON YOUR SCHEDULE:

Episodes are now available for streaming on all station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and the PBS Video App, which is available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Chromecast, for a limited time.

Extend your viewing window with KPBS Passport, video streaming for members supporting KPBS at $60 or more yearly, using your computer, smartphone, tablet, Roku, AppleTV, Amazon Fire or Chromecast. Learn how to activate your benefit now.

JOIN THE CONVERSATION:

Lucy Worsley is on Facebook, and you can follow @Lucy_Worsley on Twitter.

Lucy Worsley’s romp through centuries of love’s rituals begins with the Georgian age, when the rules of courtship were being rewritten, and women and men made their own romantic choices.
Courtesy of BBC
Lucy Worsley’s romp through centuries of love’s rituals begins with the Georgian age, when the rules of courtship were being rewritten, and women and men made their own romantic choices.

CREDITS:

The host of several popular PBS specials including “12 Days Of Tudor Christmas,” VICTORIA & ALBERT: THE WEDDING, “Tales From The Royal Bedchamber,” and more, Lucy Worsley is a royal historian, TV host, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, and author of numerous books including “Queen Victoria,” “Jane Austen at Home,” “Eliza Rose," "A Very British Murder” and more.

Produced by the BBC. Executive producers are Michael Poole and John Das. The series producer is Sebastian Barfield, who also directed Episode 1. Episode 2 is produced and directed by Rachel Jardine.