The desert-governess romance: Regency England meets exotic Arabia


  • Ellen Turner Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University
  • Cecilia Wadsö Lecaros Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University



In this article we discuss how two types of popular romances – the desert romance and the governess romance – have blended into what we refer to as the desert-governess romance. In the world of romance, the governess and the sheikh may be an odd couple but they do make good bedfellows. Etymologically speaking, the governess (“A woman who holds or exercises authority” (OED)) is the perfect love match for the tribal governor who rules with steely resolve. In this paper we direct our attention to genre blending in order to explore the binary of captivity and escape. We look at a number of texts identified as archetypical desert-governess romances. What emerges from this analysis is that the initially disparate genres of the governess romance and the desert romance share surprising commonalities, not least with regard to the dual forms of escape offered by the fusion of the historical backdrop (typically Regency) and the geographical space of the desert.