Skip to content


Your cart is empty

Article: Send your lover a Regency Valentine!

Send your lover a Regency Valentine! -
Anne Elliot

Send your lover a Regency Valentine!

Love written on paper with calligraphy pen

So, Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and you really want to make an impression. You’ve looked all over the shops for a card that really shows how you feel, but nothing feels quite right - the cards you see for sale are all too cheap, too commercial, too tacky to express the true depth of your feelings. You want to give your love a unique Valentine, a precious memory to treasure. Well, we have an idea for you.

According to Britannica, the tradition of exchanging Valentines cards dates back to the 18th century, so Jane Austen herself may have been aware of the budding tradition. It was certainly happening in her lifetime. Cheaper postal methods and more widely available mass printing methods made the sending of romantic missives more accessible than ever to people of all classes.

To send your own Regency Valentine:

You will want to start with a good, high quality piece of paper if you can find one. Most craft shops can supply this, but a decent piece of A4 will suffice if you can’t get your hands on anything fancier. Alternatively, you could nab yourself some of our Jane Austen writing paper, if your lover is a fan of her writing. Then you want to find a good, reliable pen - this could be a fountain pen or a quill if you’re particularly fancy, or just a pen you can trust not to run dry in the middle of writing. If you’re feeling really ambitious you could check out our article on how to cut your own quill pen.

There’s no need to go over the top with calligraphy, but you’ll want to practise your best handwriting so that your lover can actually decipher your words.

Sincerity is key: Take inspiration from Jane Austen

There’s no point going to the effort of putting together a letter if you’re not going to be honest about how you really feel. Look to the works of Jane Austen for a masterclass in romantic letter writing. My personal favourite is Wentworth’s letter to Anne Elliot in Persuasion, which opens:

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago.

Okay, so maybe this might be a little much for your Valentine, especially if the relationship is still quite fresh, but you get the idea. If you’re a bit of a Mr Darcy and candour doesn’t come so easily (this writer can definitely relate), try first making a separate list of things you love about your Valentine, and weave those into your letter. You could even include a romantic quote from Jane Austen too - here are some ideas.

You want to make sure you convey the depth of your feeling for this person, so adding a little poetry, a little bit of emphasis, wouldn’t hurt at all.

Add some extra flourish

Pressed flowers

Once your letter is written, you could consider how you might make it look even prettier. Perhaps you could add some pressed flowers in the margins, or even some doodles or stickers if you have them. Other nice touches are adding a photo or two of the pair of you together, or maybe something you picked up on a date - a cinema ticket, or an exhibition leaflet. Small flourishes like this make the letter look like a real labour of love that you’ve really put time and thought into.

Fold it up

Though today we’d typically just fold our letters in half and stick them in an envelope, in the Regency it was more typical to fold your letter into an envelope for itself, sealing it shut with a wax seal. The video below details how letters would have been folded during the Regency, and teaches you how to do it yourself.

For the more ambitious, a simple Google search for ‘letter folding’ will also bring you to tutorials on many weird and wonderful origami ways to fold your love letter. Just be sure to practise your folds on a piece of scrap paper before you go creasing all of your hard work. If you are sending your letter in the post, it might be wise to put your Valentine inside an envelope too, just to make sure it gets to its destination securely.

Pair it with the perfect gift

Oh, you didn’t think you were getting away with just sending the card, right? Flowers and chocolates are always good, but if you really want to impress, you could get them something from our Valentine’s Day Collection.

Our gift shop has a wide selection of jewellery, books and other bits and pieces to choose from for the Jane Austen fan in your life.

We at the Jane Austen blog would like to wish you the best of luck in your romantic endeavours, and a very happy Valentine’s Day. 

Ellen White is editor of the Jane Austen Centre blog. She would love to hear from you! Check out our Submission Guidelines and get in touch.

1 comment

The earliest surviving valentine is from Margery Brews to John Paston III in 1477. You can read about here and see the original at the British Library.

Sharon Michalove

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

All comments are moderated before being published.

Read more