Meet Sharma: History Behind “Bridgerton” Season 2

When Bridgerton premiered in late 2020, it broke the mold of historical drama by presenting an exciting and rethinking version of Regency England with racially integrated aristocrats.

The new season of Bridgerton, premiered on Friday, is based on the show’s successful formula by introducing South Asian families to Ton’s Sharma.

“Bridgerton wouldn’t have been’Bridgerton’without the colorful, multi-ethnic, multi-colored world established in Season 1,” said creator Chris Van Dusen.

The family grew up in an aristocratic English family, but married a junior clerk and has been in India for decades from her daughter Edwina (Charisla Chandran) and her stepdaughter Kate (Simone Ashley) from wealthy parents. Mary, who died and was estranged, returned to London to help Edwina find a suitable husband. Kate.

Season 2 is based on “The Viscount Who Loved Me,” the second book in a series of romance novels about the Bridgerton brothers by writer Julia Quinn. VanDusen said he always knew if he had the opportunity to do the second season of “Bridgerton”. “He wanted to expand the multicultural perspective of the show by making Shefield, the” Viscount who loved me, “Sharma.

In collaboration with his writing staff and historians, including Priya Atwal, author of “Royals and Rebels: The Rise and Fall of the Sikh Empire,” VanDusen gives Sharma “as genuine a peculiarity as possible.” Has begun.

Details reflecting the family’s South Asian heritage are woven throughout the season: Kate speaks some Hindi words when we first meet her; Edwina is before her wedding Participate in the Haldi ceremony; and in a nice and gentle moment, Kate washes Edwina’s hair with oil.

“‘Bridgerton’ is a show that celebrates things that aren’t usually seen or heard in this genre. At this time, the world wasn’t much more homogeneous than we believe. The goal is for those who are watching this show so that they can see themselves reflected on the screen and in our world. “

The second season was set in 1814, when there was a deep economic and political relationship between Britain and the Indian subcontinent. We talked to historians about the relationship between the European and Indian ruling classes and the actual Regency London Sharma.

Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma in “Bridgerton” and Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton.

(Liam Daniel / Netflix)

Britain-India relations were established by the regency era

Season 2 of “Bridgerton” “marked the beginning of a long, complex, often violent and exploitative relationship between Britain and parts of India” 1814, more than 200 years after the establishment of the East India Company. Set to year. Craig, a professor of history at the University of York and a consultant for Bridgerton.

During this time, she said, “India was not a single entity, but a state or a subcontinent of states.”

Some of these areas were heavily annexed by the East India Company and its powerful mercenary forces, while others, such as the northern Sikh Empire, maintained autonomy.

“The complex economic and political ties between the nations have brought these elite and forensic societies into contact,” Greg said.

“There was a lot of travel between Britain and India, especially given the importance of East India Company to the UK economy, politics and nation, and the huge demand for luxury goods from India,” Greg said. Stated.

The trip from Mumbai to England took about 6 months and was timed to avoid the monsoon season. In Bridgerton, Kate will return to India before joining Anthony, while Craig is an unmarried elite woman traveling without her companion.

At this point, there are several South Asians in London, but few have historically recorded their lives.

Trade has brought people from all over the world to the multicultural capital of Regency London.

Few of these people, like Sharma, would have been in the “ton’s exclusive class,” according to Craig, but they work in London as shopkeepers, merchants, craftsmen, domestic servants and sailors. The color people were wider. “In many cases, their history, non-elite history, is more hidden, and their lives, names, and stories remain unwritten.”

Men and women sitting over a cup of tea, a little apart

Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma in “Bridgerton” and Jonathan Bailey as Anthony Bridgerton.

(Liam Daniel / Netflix)

The relationship between British men and Indian women was common — in India

According to Durba Gauche, a professor at Cornell University and author of “Sex and Family in Colonial History,” the relationship between European men and local women in India is very high at all levels of society through colonial rule. It was common.

“Many Indian women entering and leaving military camps were there to do household chores, sex work, and preparation,” Gauche said. Many children were born to Indian women as a result of their relationships with British men. In fact, many have set up orphanages where East India Company can educate these mixed-race children.

Marriage was not unheard of, but it was more common for men to return to England to settle down and leave their children and the Indian women who gave birth to them.

“Establishing this relationship in the colony is an open secret to most of these cases, but it is acceptable to return to Britain and marry a racially and socially appropriate person,” Gauche said. He said.

Of course, the relationship between British women and Indian men was much more unusual due to the limited contact between these groups, but nonetheless, some of the trips to London on board the East Indian company’s ship. An Indian sailor stays in London and is a local woman. “But it’s a very small population.”

Woman in a regency ball gown and tiara

In “Bridgerton,” Simone Ashley as Kate Sharma, Adjoa Andoh as Lady Danbury, Shelley Conn as Mary Sharma, and Charisla Chandran as Edwina Sharma.

(Liam Daniel / Netflix)

There were a few real women like the Sharma sisters, but they were rare

Gauche investigated the number of South Asian women, such as the Sharma sisters, who circulated in London society during the regency and were considered aristocrats. These women were accustomed to being around Europeans and were “elite and educated in India, to adapt to the social life expectations of Georgia and Regency England,” Ghosh said. I wrote in the article.

They included Kitty Kirkpatrick, the daughter of the manager of a powerful East India Company and a young Muslim woman in a court household in Hyderabad. Kitty arrived in London at the age of four while her mother stayed in India. This was very unusual for Indian women. According to Gauche, she emigrated to England with a relationship with a European.

But few did so: Harima Begum (later known as Helen Bennett) was a Muslim lady who had a French mercenary soldier and two children in India and settled in a fashionable area of ​​London. was. They never got married. According to Gauche, she was buried in a Christian cemetery, but her tomb faced Mecca.

Born in Sharaf-un-nissa, Elizabeth Ducarel had six children (first at the age of 13) with Gerard Gustavus Ducarel, the district director of the East India Company, and moved with him to various positions throughout India. .. She has been married since 1784. She is active in London society.

All the women Gauche revealed in her study adopted European names (“It is very unlikely that Sharma had an Indian name,” she said).

Kate’s romance with Anthony would have raised her eyebrows

“Failures in engagement were mostly scandals because they jeopardized women’s reputation and could sue men for breach of promise,” Craig said. In the form of Mrs. Dunbury. “So it was unlikely that she would be considered like a match for a Viscount.”

Still, she said history provides some examples of marriages that violate these norms. After the death of his first wife, there was no title or wealth of marriage between the Earl of Derby and actress Elizabeth Farren in the London season, or in the 1790s.

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