The season coincided with the sitting of parliament; it began some time after Christmas and ran until midsummer. In her biography Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire Amanda Foreman writes: ‘The aristocratic ‘season’ came into existence not only to further the marriage market but to entertain the upper classes while they carried out their political duties. The season followed the rhythm of Parliament: it began in late October with the opening of the new session, and ended in June with the summer recess.’ The members of the two Houses of Parliament – the Commons and the Lords – were nearly all active participants in the social events whipped up as part of the season.
Immortalised in fiction – Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer and Edith Wharton – the season was also the time to launch children of a ‘marriageable’ age – from the nobility and gentry – into society as debutantes. A ‘deb’s delight’ was a handsome unattached man from a comparable background. These upper class young women were formally introduced into society by presentation to the monarch at Royal Court during the Queen Charlotte’s Ball. The Queen Charlotte’s Ball was founded in 1780 by George III as a birthday celebration in honour of his wife, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.