Thursday, March 4, 2010

Fitzwilliam, Wentworth, Watson and Woodhouse - Jane's characters have more in common than you might think!

I've been very busy writing a new book which always involves a certain amount of research. I was looking for a surname for a character of my own; it had to be linked to the name Wentworth in some way, so I decided to put in a search in google. I hit upon a site about Wentworth village in south Yorkshire Wentworth village.net and have found it totally fascinating, as I am sure you will too.
I discovered that the family names of Fitzwilliam, (as in Darcy) Watson, Woodhouse and Wentworth are all linked - they are all related in some way in a family tree that goes back to the 1200's. There was even an Emma Woodhouse born in 1220.

Do have a look at it - I can't help thinking that Jane Austen was inspired by this family for the names she uses in Pride and Prejudice, Emma, The Watsons, and of course, Persuasion.
I am having a lot of fun with my latest book - there's still a way to go, but at least I've finally got a name for my hero. I wonder if you can guess which surname I chose.
This novel is not a sequel, it started out as one, but I got completely side-tracked and excited by a whole other idea. I might return to the sequel sometime, but this one has completely taken me over.

Now the question that is puzzling me is why Jane chose this particular family - does anyone have any idea? There doesn't seem to be anything obvious, but maybe I've missed something. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

5 comments:

Alexa Adams said...

Jane, what a fascinating discovery! I have never heard of the Village of Wentworth before and have been unable to trace it in anyway to Austen, except for the names. The only time she even mentions Yorkshire in her novels is as the location of Enscombe. I often thought she picked names at random - using things like street names (Bennet) for inspiration. Perhaps she had some travel book that referenced Wentworth and provided inspiration?

Jane Odiwe said...

It is fascinating - I'd never heard of Wentworth either - did you see that the family 'seat' was called Wentworth Woodhouse? It looks a beautiful house worthy of any Austen heroine.

Blarney Girl said...

Do you think Jane may have had a copy of Debrett's or Burke's books on the peerage and was using it as you are using this website?? She found a lovely family tree with wonderful names and voila - instant family names for her characters!! (my poor attempt at a guess!! LOL)

Jane Odiwe said...

Yes, I'm sure she had access to those kind of books. I can't help thinking there's a bit more to it, and I've one or two thoughts which I'm considering adding - but, what I'm guessing might sound a bit fanciful. Making notes...more later!

Alexa Adams said...

The house is amazing. Enormous too. But I can't recall any suggestion of Jane visiting Yorkshire - I need to go back to the bios (which have been neglected as of late) and see if there are any clues.