Readers of the Regency era are familiar with Beau (George Bryan) Brummell’s elegance and sartorial splendor. He was born on June 7, 1778, the younger son of William Brummell, private secretary of Lord North.
In 1793 George attended Eton, where he met the Prince of Wales. Even back then Brummell was known for his sense of fashion and wit. Tall and fair in looks, he cut a neat and enviable figure.
Only 16 when is father died in 1794, George quit Oriel College in Oxford and joined the 10th hussars. Two years later he was promoted to captain. During his service, Brummell fell from his horse, acquiring a broken nose that healed crookedly to the side. The new nose added a harsh element to his soft face, making it less than perfect.
While some felt that the Beau’s less than perfect nose added character to his features, others, like Julia Johnstone, a famous demimondaine of the era, felt that it had ruined his looks.
According to Ian Kelly, author of Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Man of Style, the few sketches and miniatures that remain of Brummell show radically different interpretations of the dandy’s features. Was the broken nose responsible for these inconsistencies?
Interestingly, these two images do not depict a man with a broken nose.
Beau Brummell retired from service in 1798 and shortly thereafter came into his property, a moderate 30,000 pounds that would not go far in supporting his gambling habits. But with his knack for making friends in high places (the Prince Regent and his set) and his sartorial gifts, Brummell reigned supreme as the style arbiter of his era, inspiring generations of men to dress with simplicity, taste, and style.
In 1816, Brummell’s debts forced him into exile in France, where he died in 1840.
More on the topic:
- Beau Brummell’s Gambling
- Beau Brummell: This Charming Man
- The Art of Tying the Cravat
- The Falling Out Between the Prince Regent and Beau Brummell