Dancing was among the most important accomplishments for the women, and the men, of polite society. It encompassed not only the steps and figures of social dances but also deportment and etiquette. A Description of the Correct Method of Waltzing by Thomas Wilson (fl. 1800-39) was published in 1816. Wilson is among the many dancing masters who worked in the theatre and taught social dancing in his own academy, and one of the very few who wrote about dancing and published collections of dances.
Like his contemporaries, Wilson ascribes the origins of the waltz to Germany. The early 19th-century waltz had several versions, which might be danced in succession. The pretty frontispiece displayed here shows a couple ready to begin (Fig. 1), about to start the slow French Waltz (Fig. 2), the first movement of the Sauteuse Waltz (Fig. 5), the first movement of the Jetté or Quick Sauteuse Waltz (Fig. 8) and a movement in the German Waltz (Fig. 9).