John Bell's La Belle Assemblée, or Bell's Court and Fashionable Magazine Addressed Particularly to the Ladies, 1806-1868

yearly volume title page, 1814

A photo of the 1814 yearly volume of La Belle Assemblée belonging to Fanny Austen Knight, relative of Jane Austen.

Key Source on La Belle Assemblée

Laudermilk, Sharon, and Teresa L. Hamlin. The Regency Companion. New York: Garland, 1989.

About the La Belle Assemblée . . .

John Bell (1745-1831) ran Bell's Circulating Library, which c. 1778-1780, according to one of its catalogues had "above fifty thousand volumes (English, Italian, and French) in history, antiquities, voyages ..." La Belle Assemblee was also sometimes called Bell's Court and Fashionable Magazine or the Court Magazine and Belle Assemblee. The Early British Periodical Microfilm Series from University Microfilms has reproduced this magazine on reels 749 to 754. The first series of 7 volumes ran from February of 1806 to 1810; the new series of 30 volumes ran from 1810 to 1824, and the third series ran for fifteen volumes from 1825 to 1832. In Southern California, USC is the best place to look at original copies of this magazine; they have the issues from 1811-2 and 1825-32.

Laudermilk and Hamlin write: "This magazine contained a wealth of information on a wide range of women's concerns. It was a true women's magazine with celebrity anecdotes, instructions of manners, cosmetic advice, and beauty aids. Dress and fashion were covered in delightfully colored fashion plates--the best of which were from 1809 to 1820. Fashion plates were presented with lengthy, written descriptions, and modish gentlewomen pounced on the latest monthly issue. . . . The magazine was filled with advertisements that touted the wonders of various rouges, depilatories, powders, and corsets" (32-3).

I have been able to examine some of the "new series" that began in 1810. The issues are numbered continuously through the volumes. The volume numbers change every six months, not like we change them, once a year. There are often supplements to the volume, which throws off the numbers even more. Plates are dated ahead one month. Thus the plates dated April 1809 and February 1814 are the plates published in the issue before labelled and dated for the next month. The fashion section is actually rather small, usually two plates per month and a general commentary.

1807 cover picture
The cover of an
1807 edition of
La Belle Assemblee

Various Issues

January 1808

February 1808

March 1808

March 1809

Supplement to Vol. 6, 1809

(new series begins 1810)

January 1812 (Vol. 5, No. 28)

Februay 1812 (Vol. 5, No. 29)

March 1812 (Vol. 5, No. 30)

April 1812 (Vol. 5, No. 31)

May 1812 (Vol. 5, No. 32)

October 1812 (Vol. 6, No. 37)

January 1813 (Vol. 7, No. 41)

February 1813 (Vol. 7, No. 42)



April 1813 (Vol. 7, No. 44)

May 1813 (Vol. 7, No. 45)

June 1813 (Vol. 7, No. 46)

January 1814

March 1816

January 1817 (Vol. 15, No. 93)

February 1817 (Vol. 15, No. 94)

March 1817 (Vol. 15, No. 95)

April 1817 (Vol. 15, No. 96)

May 1817 (Vol. 15, No. 96)

January 1818 (Vol. 17, No. 106)

February 1818 (Vol. 17, No. 107)

March 1818 (Vol. 17, No. 108)

June 1828

December 1828




Fashion Plate,1807

Court Dress and details

Fashion Plates, 1809

Above, Cheltenham Summer Dress

Promenade Dresses, 1813. The two ladies stroll through a garden in simple, plain gowns tied under the breasts with sashes. The lady on the left wears a short ruffled cape over her gown, while the lady on the right wears a shawl and carries a parasol. Both dresses are cut rather high.

Left: Seaside Bathing Dress, 1815. It is unclear to me if this dress is simply to be worn to the bathing machine, which can be seen in the lower left of the picture, or actually into the sea. Most likely the former, since the bathing machines acted as changing rooms as well. Note the odd green and white slippers that match the dress, which is purple with green trim.

Right: Morning Carriage Dress, c. 1805-1820. This carriage dress has a little capelet of fur and a matching muff to go with it. Note the bizarre carved table leg with a huge claw at the bottom and the odd grinning monkey head at the top.

Ball Dress, 1818, and detail of the hem

Detail of headdress of ball dress above, 1818

Evening Dress, 1825

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