Yes, here it is, another Heyer related post (better get used to it, as I'm happily rediscovering more and more of her books)... I sometimes feel a bit self conscious about my love of Heyer - people can be a bit sniffy about her so it's tempting to think of her as a guilty pleasure, but then I'll be damned if I feel guilty about reading a writer who has given me so much pleasure over the years. I've always been interested in History, always loved reading, a complete lack of skill in trying to learn other languages would always have pushed me to British history and I would always have discovered Jane Austen (although it was very specifically Heyer's mentions of Austen which led me to discover her when I did). My degree was in History of Art, my undergraduate dissertation about the rival art collections of Wellington and Napoleon (the difference is that Wellington as the victor got to keep his booty including a 3 meter high statue of a naked Napoleon holding an orb with a winged victory on it by Canova. Hard to imagine that Wellington would have really wanted such an object, but it still stands in a stairwell in Apsley house) was in partly the fruition of an interest sparked by reading Heyer's army based novels. For me, and doubtless very many others she's been a gateway novelist, not to the endless 'Regencies' which are so often second or third rate imitations of what she dis so well, but to the classics that she was undoubtedly familiar with and many of which she mentions in her novels.
A quick trawl around my shelves has resulted in a sizable pile of books which owe their place on my shelf because of Heyer, I haven't included non fiction, and could have included Elizabeth Gaskell who I started reading when I was looking for a Heyer replacement. I haven't read all of these books but one day I will (well maybe not 'The Monk' which I started once and didn't really get on with). I did actually read Richardson's 'Pamela' - I don't particularly recommend it, Fanny Burney and Maria Edgeworth are both terrific and it occurs to me that I really should read 'Vanity Fair' again. It also occurs to me that no other writer has had quite such an influence on my book buying habits as Heyer has had. (I'm also thinking that finding the books was considerably more fun than putting them back will be.)