Carrie G said “ . When people gobble up the “duke marries a serving girl” tropes (which made me laugh–see below**) , I don’t understand when they balk at the Indian nabob at the society gathering.”
I had a big post I did yesterday that disappeared into the ether as well and never posted. It had Wikipedia links and everything but I’ll do a condensed version.
There certainly were people of color who mingled in society at the highest levels, particularly during Queen Victoria’s reign. She “adopted” or took as goddaughters or godsons people like Princess Victoria Gouramma of India , Sarah Forbes Bonetta of Africa and Majarajah Duleep Singh who had his own beautiful country estate and spent time with the Royal Family as their guest.
Not that Queen Victoria’s motives were kind and pure, she was interested in “Christianizing” their countries and wanted to use their conversions as “good examples” to help do this. But the fact remains that it’s certainly not anachronistic to have a person of color at a society gathering. I’m not saying 19th century England was a warm fuzzy melting pot of good feelings and equality, but people can’t use the excuse that “there were no people of color” to try to whitewash other people’s novels.
As many people know, Jane Austen (who is held up as the last word on Regency manners, mores and etiquette) included Miss Lambe, a woman of color and incredibly rich heiress Lady Denham wants her titled nephew Sir Edward to marry in her work Sandition. If she didn’t think it was “anachronistic” to include her in her books that we look at as a mirror of society during that time, why do people quibble with authors who do so now?