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Showing posts from February, 2008

Mrs Bennet

Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice is a mother with a mission. It is her sole object to have her daughters married well and she does all she can to achieve this end. At the beginning of Pride and Prejudice Mrs Bennet is keen for Mr Bennet to visit Mr Bingley, a rich neighbour who has recently moved to the area. Mr Bennet does not seem to strike up the acquaintance much to his wife's vexation. She speaks first.

"But consider your daughters. Only think what an establishment it would be for one of them. Sir William and Lady Lucas are determined to go, merely on that account, for in general, you know, they visit no new-comers. Indeed you must go, for it will be impossible for us to visit him if you do not."

"You are over-scrupulous surely. I dare say Mr. Bingley will be very glad to see you; and I will send a few lines by you to assure him of my hearty consent to his marrying whichever he chuses of the girls: though I must throw in a good word for my little Lizzy.&qu…

Lydia Letters

New letters have just been discovered giving evidence of a correspondence between our lovely Miss Lydia and what appears to be a close acquaintance, Miss Lucy. The first must have been sent just at the time two certain gentlemen, a Mr Bingley and his friend Mr Darcy, were visiting Meryton.


My dearest Lydia,

La, it is uncommonly hot today and not at all the sort of weather for this time of year! I am so glad we are arrived at Brighton, for the sea breezes are refreshingly cool. I am writing to you on the scent of a RUMOUR! My mama’s lady’s maid heard from the footman, who heard from the valet of a visiting gentleman, who had stopped by to deliver a letter from Sir William Lucas to my papa, that your eldest sister Jane is practically engaged to a man of great good fortune. They said your mama said so, and that Jane had met him not a fortnight ago!

When last we spoke, we were lamenting the lack of eligible and handsome young men in Meryton. Indeed, your mama was always wondering aloud how s…

Lydia Bennet and Mr Wickham

I hope you have all enjoyed the Pride and Prejudice adaptation that has just finished on TV in the US. I loved this version and I thought Julia Sawalha was a fantastic Lydia, petulant and precocious but still managing to be very funny! Adrian Lukis was perfect for Wickham too, just the right combination of charm and charisma to convince us in the beginning that he is an ideal partner for Lizzy but also imbued with a certain sleaziness, which soon shows us his true character. Poor Lydia cannot see this and believes herself to be in love with him. Whatever her faults, I could not let Lydia be miserable with Mr Wickham for the rest of her life - I had to find a happy ending for her in Lydia Bennet's Story!
Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet was a wonderful Lizzy and I'm sure most will agree that Colin Firth is unsurpassed as Mr Darcy. I think the on screen chemistry between these two is what sparked so many web sites, blogs and sequels to Pride and Prejudice in the years since its…

Elizabeth Bennet implores Mr Darcy to tell her how he managed to fall in love with her

As in all good love stories the hero and heroine come together at last. The following is an extract from Pride and Prejudice where Elizabeth and Mr Darcy have finally realised how much they are in love with one another and make their feelings known.


Elizabeth's spirits soon rising to playfulness again, she wanted Mr. Darcy to account for his having ever fallen in love with her. "How could you begin?" said she. "I can comprehend your going on charmingly, when you had once made a beginning; but what could set you off in the first place?"

"I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun."

"My beauty you had early withstood, and as for my manners - my behaviour to you was at least always bordering on the uncivil, and I never spoke to you without rather wishing to give you pain than not. Now, be sincere; did you admire me for my imp…

Pride and Prejudice, Lizzy and Darcy

This is the scene where Mr Darcy makes his most unwelcome proposal to Elizabeth Bennet. She is making it very clear that she is less than impressed with his offer.
Elizabeth answers:

"In such cases as this, it is, I believe, the established mode to express a sense of obligation for the sentiments avowed, however unequally they may be returned. It is natural that obligation should be felt, and if I could feel gratitude, I would now thank you. But I cannot -- I have never desired your good opinion, and you have certainly bestowed it most unwillingly. I am sorry to have occasioned pain to any one. It has been most unconsciously done, however, and I hope will be of short duration. The feelings which, you tell me, have long prevented the acknowledgment of your regard, can have little difficulty in overcoming it after this explanation."

Mr. Darcy, who was leaning against the mantlepiece with his eyes fixed on her face, seemed to catch her words with no less resentment than surpr…

Brighton Encampments

After war was declared against the French in February 1793, several military encampments were set up along the south coast.Over the following years the fields surrounding the area became enormous tented army camps filled with Militia from all over the country.
A plan of the first encampment was printed on the fabric of a lady's fan, which was probably produced as a souvenir and can still be seen in Worthing museum.
The Prince of Wales, who was the Colonel in Chief of the 10th Light Dragoons had a tent far superior to any ever seen before on a battlefield. It had several ante rooms and even a kitchen. The newspapers often reported that the Prince took his duties very seriously, suggesting he did his share of night watch. However, his comfortable home often tempted him to abscond and on 2nd September 1793 a huge storm swept away many of the tents leaving those who rushed to his rescue to think they need not have bothered.

The 1794 encampment was on top of Brighton's Race Hill.When …

Jane Austen at her desk

Jane Austen's wonderful writing has inspired me to write and paint; and as a consequence I have 'met' many people from all over the world. The internet is a wonderful thing! I do hope you will have a look and add your views too!

I hope you like this painting of a young Jane sitting at her desk. I imagine that she is writing 'First Impressions' in this painting, the first draft of the book that became such a favourite of us all - Pride and Prejudice. Sitting at a desk in the blue dressing room at Steventon she gazes out upon a wintry landscape; soft feathers of snow are falling from a charcoal sky. Perhaps Cassandra will come in to demand to hear the next instalment or if little neice Anna is playing she will hear the merry peals of laughter from the sisters as Jane reads out her favourite passages. Jane looks lost in thought. Does she dream of Mr Darcy?

Donkey riding and sea bathing in Brighton

I often use paintings or prints as a starting point. When I was writing Lydia Bennet’s Story, this print presented me with an idea for a scene between Lydia and Mr Wickham.
Donkey riding was a very fashionable pursuit at this time and most popular with ladies; tours in a donkey cart could be taken out to the village of Rottingdean. This fad did not last long, the donkeys were soon replaced by ponies, which the ladies preferred.
Sea bathing was also popular as might be expected and was recommended as a health giving exercise. Ladies and gentlemen bathed in designated areas, firstly entering a bathing machine to change into a flannel gown before descending the steps to be ‘dipped’ in the water by the ‘dipper’.

There’s plenty of dippers and jokers,
And salt-water rigs for your fun
The King of them all is ‘Old Smoaker’
The Queen of ’em “Old Martha Gunn”.

The ladies walk out in the morn,
To taste of the salt-water breeze;
They ask if the water is warm,
Says Martha, “Yes, Ma’am, if you please.”

Old …

In my dreams!

My lucky friends in the US are watching Pride and Prejudice again, the lovely version with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.
I thought I'd share a birthday card my daughter made for me a while ago - it makes me laugh whenever I look at it!

Jane Odiwe

Stopping for Refreshment

In 1801 a coach leaving London for Brighton at seven o'clock in the morning would stop for its passengers at Sutton by nine o'clock. A glass of Miss Jeal's 'smoking hot' elderberry wine would form the fortification at the next stop followed by lunch at Reigate. At Handcross strong liquors were handed out by the landlord and then a 'grand halt' at Staplefield Common meant dinner. Rabbit pudding was the favoured dish and by the time passengers had enjoyed a further drink, another two hours would have passed by. Tea was taken in Patcham before the last leg of the journey. The coach arrived in Brighton at seven o'clock.
There were several routes to Brighton from London and coaches did become much faster in time, mainly because the roads became better and the new routes avoided hills which the passengers had previously to walk up. Well, they had to do something to burn off all their meals!

Jane Odiwe

Old Ship Inn, Brighton

When Lydia arrives in Brighton with Harriet and Colonel Forster they put up at the Ship Inn. I decided it would be more interesting to have them in a hotel where they might come across other characters, rather than just staying in lodgings and of course, the sea view from here and the ever changing scene from the bow windows enthralls our heroine. The Old Ship Hotel on King's Road is the oldest in Brighton, dating back to 1559 and is still there today, although it has altered over the years. It was so called because it was in part constructed from old timbers of a vessel. The chief posting and coaching inn of Brighton during the Regency period, the town's post office and assembly rooms were also to be found here. Mrs Fitzherbert as head of a team of lady patronesses, organised private subscription balls in a similar manner to Almack's to which the fashionable set thronged.
It is from here that a dramatic turning point of Lydia Bennet's Story happens and Lydia is set on…

Hoddesdon - a Hertfordshire coaching town

Hoddesdon was an important coaching stop in the nineteenth century, boasting 30 coaching inns at one time, some of which are still preserved today. Although Jane Austen did not specify where Lydia and Kitty met their sisters on their return to Longbourn I decided this bustling market town would make an appropriate place.

'It was the second week in May, in which the three young ladies set out together from Gracechurch Street for the town of -- -- , in Hertfordshire; and, as they drew near the appointed inn where Mr. Bennet's carriage was to meet them, they quickly perceived, in token of the coachman's punctuality, both Kitty and Lydia looking out of a dining-room upstairs.' Extract from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

An old photograph of the Bull Inn with an upstairs window seemed perfect for my idea of the George Inn - I could picture the girls trying to attract the attention of likely passers by.

'We entered the George and were shown a commodious dining room …