Archive | June 2018

Pride & Prejudice 20 Years On

Hi Everyone,

I have been asked several times over the last couple of years, if I would repost this. It was such a fantastic time, how can I refuse to share it with my friends and followers.

Enjoy, xx.

ps. If you sign up to follow my blog you can have access to all my posts whenever you want.

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One week ago today, (Friday 5th September 2015) I booked myself into a hotel in Alton and tried to get an early night. The only problem with that was that I was too excited to sleep. So, a very weary me got up at 6.30am and began to get ready for what I can describe as one of the best days of my life. I was going to Chawton House Library for the BBC Pride & Prejudice Reflections Around a Much-Loved Production event.

But as if that was exciting enough, there was also going to be a cast reunion, yay!!
On arrival, everyone was given a name badge and then we all gathered in the old kitchen for tea/coffee and biscuits.  It was a lovely to chat like-minded fans and put names and faces together.
The morning session, and the first portion of the afternoon session, were spent listened to some very informative and entertaining speakers. (left to right)

Nora Nachumi (Yeshiva University, New York, final speaker), Juliette Wells (Goucher College, Baltimore, 2nd speaker), Sayre Greenfield (The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg) and Linda V Troost (Washington & Jefferson College, Pennsylvania, joint 3rd speakers), Simon Langton (Director), Devoney Looser (Arizona State University, 1st speaker), and finally on the far right is Gillian Dow, Executive Director at Chawton House Library and Associate Professor at the University of Southampton

Their talks were packed full of interesting facts and information that they had painstakingly researched, including snippets like,

Most editions of Pride & Prejudice prior to the Peacock Edition of 1894 contained no images of Mr Darcy. The few that could be found were either only a half view, or very unflattering. (Darcy with a paunch, never!) This was because he was not considered a central character, and even Jane Austen herself only described him as, a fine, tall person, handsome features, noble mien.
We also discovered that the character of Colonel Fitzwilliam was named Guy in early stage productions, and not Richard as we have all come to know him. Guy just doesn’t suit him at all.

I was first introduced to Pride & Prejudice with the 1940 film starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson. What I did not know until last week, was that Clark Gable had been shortlisted for the role first, who knew?

Now there have been many incarnation of Pride & Prejudice via the stage, TV and movie, but it is the BBC 1995 production that has earned a place in TV history and our hearts. So much so it now has a cult status with millions of fans worldwide.

So when the director, Simon Langton took to the floor, the room fell silent. We were not disappointed.
He regaled us with tales and secrets from the production set and we sat spellbound. For instance, did you know that for insurance and H+S reasons, Colin’s pond scene was actually filmed in a tank at Ealing. However, with hindsight it might have been safer to film it in the pond. Due to a decision made by the first assistant, the last section of the metal lid that covered the tank was not removed. This meant that when Mr Darcy (Colin Firth) resurfaced from his dive, his nose collided with the rim of the cover, ouch! Fortunately, there was no lasting damage and Simon was able to work around Colin’s injury.
Another interesting fact Simon revealed was that Colin was a dyslexic dancer. Luckily Jane Gibson was on hand to teach him and choreographed the dance sequences. Yet when you watch him and Jennifer Ehle dancing to Mr Beveridge’s Maggot, he looks at ease and totally professional. Well done Jane!


One final secret, they had considered using Chatsworth as Pemberley, but the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire insisted that no area was to be closed to the public during filming. This would render it impossible to use as a location. Therefore, Simon looked for a more suitable place to use. When he found Lyme House, he knew he had found the perfect home for Mr Darcy.


Also, Huw Prall, one of the dance extras attended. Huw told me that they had a whole week of rehearsals before shooting the dance scenes for the  Meryton Assembly, which were actually filmed at Ealing Studios. He has a wonderful collection of memorabilia relating to the show and was kind enough to let the delegates pore over it, literally. Huw was bombarded with an array of questions about Regency Era dancing. Some from ladies attending the Bath Regency Festival, and some from the scholars. How wonderful, that after 200 years, there are still people like Huw and Jane to pass on these dying traditions.

Finally, we came to the moment we had all been waiting for, the introduction of the cast. Almost every person present held up their camera, and the stars must have felt transported back to 1995. Though they need no introduction, I have added their names in case you are new to Pride & Prejudice

Benjamin Whitrow (Mr Bennet), Susannah Harker (Jane Bennet), Crispin Bonham-Carter (Mr Bingley), Simon Langton, Director, Jane Gibson, Choreographer, Polly Maberly (Kitty Bennet), and Joanna David (Mrs Gardiner

Oh, where to start? Ok, I will move around in order of appearance.


Ben was charming, a perfect gentleman. He revealed that he had based his character, Mr Bennet, on his own father, who, he said, totally adored his mother. Unfortunately, he also loved to tease her. We see this clearly in his portrayal of Mr Bennet and his constant ribbing of Mrs Bennet. Sadly a few of the cast, including Ben found it hard to get work for a period of time after the phenomenal success of P & P.




Susannah is as lovely today as she was in 1995, both in looks and personality. She happily signed autographs and posed for pictures for all who wanted a souvenir of the day. (Including me)

Crispin, well, first of all, be still my beating heart. Crispin has improved with age, and although handsome as Mr Bingley, he is now quite the show stopper in my humble opinion. Crispin admitted that he is not a great horseman, and during the opening sequence of the first episode, it was a stunt double who galloped across the field. He also revealed he had been asked, some years later, to play Mr Darcy in a stage  adaptation of P & P. Wisely he turned it down. Crispin in now the Head of Department and teachers English in a London school.

Polly was lovely. She has blossomed into a beautiful and charming woman, with no sign of the awkward, snivelling Kitty, who we all remember. She was only 17 when she won the part of Kitty, but I personally think she did a wonderful job. Polly now does a lot of voice-over work, and will start shooting her first film part in the new year.



Joanna doesn’t seem to have aged a day, and talks in the quiet voice of Mrs Gardiner. She confided that she hated wearing the corsets and would happily never wear one again. Over a coffee, Joanna also  confirmed that her daughter, Emilia Fox, had stepped in to play Georgiana at the last minute. This was because Simon had been unable to finding an actress that matched his image of Georgiana. Also, it was actually Emilia playing the piano in her scenes. Wow, to be so young, so beautiful and so talented.   

It was most rewarding to see Jane and Mr Bingley reunited after 20 years.
In the world of any Pride & Prejudice  fan, Jane and Charles Bingley could do nothing but live happily ever after. So it was lovely to see Crispin and Susannah laughing together, confirming the imaginary outcome for two of our favourite characters. Ben and Crispin were as charming as their characters, and the highlight of my day was meeting them both. Gentlemen are a dying bread in the world, but today I have met two.

On a sadder note, David Bamber, (Mr Collins) was unable to attend. His loss was keenly felt.:-)



Also, Mr Darcy, (Colin Firth) was not in attendance BUT, the shirt was. I happily posed along side it, imagining Mr Darcy emerging from the lake.




On a more personal note and for those who do not know, I am a writer, and I took along a copy of the  first novel I wrote, a Pride & Prejudice ‘what if’ variation called Mr Darcy’s Struggle. Happily, I managed to get all the attending casts autographs. It is something I will treasure forever, along with my memories of this wonderful day.

This celebration of twenty years passing since the release of Pride & Prejudice was a ticketed event, and only 60 seats were available. I feel immensely proud to have been one of the lucky few to attend. I hope this Blog Post has passed on a little of the excitement we experienced and the secrets we were privileged to learn, from both the academics and the cast. With special thanks to Simon, Jane, Huw, The Chawton House Library, and of course Miss Jane Austen, whom without, none of this would have been possible. M xx

Our very best wishes

Our very best

Lizzie and Darcy x

To Live Next Door To Jane Austen’s House In Chawton? Yes or No?

Now here is an interesting article from my paper this morning.



For only £450,000, you can purchase Pond Cottage, which is next door to the house that Jane Austen lived in for eight years.

If you are a true Janeite, and I know there are many hundreds of thousands of you out there, myself included, this must seem like a dream come true. To live this close to the property where Jane created many of the characters we all love so much? Such opportunities are few and far between, so who would not be interested and excited at such a fair prospect?

Picturesque Pond Cottage

Well, lets look a little closer.

Yes, to live adjacent to the house of your idol could be rewarding, magical, and certainly inspiring for a true JA fan.

BUT, lets not forget that the actual house that Jane lived in with her sister Cassandra and her mother, (also Cassandra) is now a museum, dedicated to her life, her works and the regency way living.

I have visited the museum  myself a few times and thoroughly enjoyed it. But visiting and living next door to are two very different things.

The Jane Austen House Museum, ( attracts upwards of 100,000 visitors every year from all corners of the world.

Jane Austen House Museum

From China to Alaska, and New Zealand to Norway. The pull for Jane Austen fans to visit the place where Jane lived and dreamt up Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet is a magnet of astronomical proportions.

And rightly so. Jane is, in my humble opinion, the worlds greatest female author. Who knows what other delights she might have regaled us with had she lived beyond her 41 years.

And lets not forget that a mere half a mile up the road is the world renown Chawton Library, (

Chawton Library

This was Edward Austen Knights house, and somewhere Jane would visited often. It was owned and lived in by Edwards descendants right up until 1992 when it was sold. This is also another hugely popular tourist spot for visiting Janeites.

So, with this number of visitors in mind as they hit the Jane trail, the additional traffic through the small and yet still surprisingly  quaint village, finding somewhere to park, the noise from said visitors, the constant taking of selfies and panoramic pictures, makes me ask; would you actually be able to enjoy your country idyll?

My answer would be this;

If you are a true Jane fan, then a resounding YES!.

There would be countless opportunities to join in with the enthusiastic visitors, or you could volunteer at the museum. You would need to offer no excuse to dress up and wear your very best regency clothes, (yes I have them too) or maybe you could open a tea room.

Mr & Mrs Regency Dress

There might also be a steady trade if you invested in a regency clothes shop or perhaps a photographic studio where you could take memorable pictures of men, women and even children in period clothes from a dressing up wardrobe. There is a wealth of opportunity if you have a mind to act upon it.

However, if Jane is not your cup of tea, then steer clear of Chawton village altogether, especially in June when the nearby town of Alton hold a week long festival celebrating everything Regency.

And also in December, when people flock to visit the museum on Janes birthday, (16th December 1775).

If I had the resources and was perhaps 20 years younger, I would be putting in an offer tomorrow.

Love as always



Link to Hampton International


Free first chapter to my exciting new book, staring Elizabeth andDarcy

Hi Everyone,

Its a bit late to say happy new year, and it’s been a while since I posted anything, but, in my defence, I have been busy writing my 5th novel.

So, although I am not revealing the title yet, it is about to go into pre-order mode in the next week or so.

Hence, I am publishing the first chapter here for all my loyal friends and subscribers to read first.

I hope you like it. xx


Chapter One


Mr Darcy arrived at the inn in Lambton as soon as propriety allowed. He had been encouraged by the favourable looks Elizabeth had directed at him as she returned to his sister’s side. Miss Bingley had startled her with the mention of George Wickham.

His decision was made. Today, for the second and last time, he would propose to Elizabeth, confident that she would accept him.

Entering the Gardiners’ apartment behind the young serving girl, Darcy offered Elizabeth a warm smile and anticipated a welcoming one in return.

But the welcome he expected on his arrival was nothing like the one he received.

He stared down at Elizabeth’s tear-stained face and listened in silence as she informed him of the morning’s events.

When the serving girl, Hannah, had brought Elizabeth two letters from home, she had been about to set off on a day’s touring with the Gardiners.

Begging her aunt for time to read them before they departed, Mr and Mrs Gardiner agreed and then set off to visit Lambton church for an hour. This, they surmised, would be ample time for Elizabeth to read and enjoy the contents of her letters.

It was bad news for sure, and Darcy was instantly reminded of his sister Georgiana’s narrow escape. However, to receive such tidings when one was at home was bad enough, but to receive such distressing news when you were such a distance away, was quite another. His heart went out to the woman he loved, as she made no attempt to hide her pain and embarrassment from him, or even the serving girl.

Sending Hannah to fetch the Gardiners, Darcy took the chair opposite Elizabeth.

“Are you quite sure the letter stated they were only traced as far as London, Miss Bennet?”

Dabbing at her eyes, Elizabeth offered Darcy the tear-stained note.

“See for yourself, sir. My sister writes that Lydia and Mr Wickham were tracked as far as Clapham by Colonel Forster’s men, but no further. Indeed, when Colonel Forster questioned Wickham’s friend, Mr Denny, he confirmed that Wickham had confided to him he had no intention of going to Scotland. I fear his plans for Lydia do not include marriage.” Elizabeth said with a sob.

Taking the letter, Darcy quickly scanned the sheet. It was as he suspected. He tucked it into his breast pocket and then summoned another serving girl to sit with Elizabeth. Then, he reluctantly made his excuses.

“I fear you have long wished me gone. If you will excuse me, Miss Bennet, there is much to do.” And he left before she could reply.

With long strides, Darcy quickly closed the gap between himself and the approaching Gardiners as they hurried back from the church.

Making a quick bow to Mrs Gardiner, Darcy then spoke directly to Mr Gardiner.

“A word in private, if you please, sir,” Darcy said as he motioned for the other gentleman to step to one side with him.

“Forgive me, sir, but circumstances require me to speak plainly. Your niece, Miss Lydia Bennet has thrown herself, and her entire family into jeopardy by eloping with one of the officers from the militia stationed in Brighton.”

Mr Gardiner’s mouth dropped open in shock, but before he could question Darcy further on the matter, the latter continued;

“He tricked Miss Lydia into believing they were to be married at Gretna Green, while at the same time, boasting to his friend that marriage was not on his mind. You understand my meaning, sir?” Darcy asked with some urgency.

“I am afraid I understand all too well,” replied Mr Gardiner with a scowl. “So, where are they to be found if not Gretna Green?”

Darcy retrieved Elizabeth’s letter from his pocket and thrust it into the older man’s hand.

“They were traced as far as the capital, sir, but I am betting it was done purely to throw Colonel Forster’s men off his trail. I may be wrong, but I think Wickham will make his way back here, to Derbyshire. He was born and raised here, and although he has only a few distant cousins remaining, he knows the layout of the country well.”

Mr Gardiner paused to study the young man’s countenance. Although their acquaintance was only a few days old, Edward Gardiner had instantly liked the gentleman. Though Darcy had tried to hide the true depth of his feeling from both him and his wife, whenever he was in Elizabeth’s presence, his admiration could not be denied. All too soon, through the increasing chinks in his metaphorical armour, Darcy’s love for Elizabeth burst through like shafts of sunlight, visible to all. Yes, he would make Elizabeth an excellent husband.

“Am I correct in assuming you have a plan, sir?” Mr Gardiner enquired.

“I do, sir. In Miss Jane Bennet’s letter, she asks that you make haste to join her father in London, where your greater knowledge of the city will aid the search for the couple. I believe you should go, sir, but I would ask that you leave your wife and Miss Elizabeth, here.”

“Leave them here, alone, with no transport and no man to protect them? You are not serious, sir!”

“If I am correct, Wickham will bring Miss Lydia to Derbyshire and then demand a ransom for her release. But,” Darcy, cautious of mentioning the unthinkable, hesitated before saying, “if things should turn out badly, sir, at least the girl will have her family to comfort her.”

“You mean should Lydia need a shoulder to cry on when this worthless young man deserts her!” Mr Gardiner scoffed.

Darcy did not answer, but the grim set of his mouth told Mr Gardiner that their thoughts were akin.

Edward Gardiner turned to look at his wife. Her expression, a mixture of curiosity and concern, conveyed how worried she was.

Although they had been blessed with four healthy children, the Gardiners’ could not help but look on Elizabeth as one of their own. There was no blemish to her personality, only kindness, and compassion, and charm and a lively wit. She was one of a kind, and they loved her dearly.

Whatever the outcome with Lydia and this fellow Wickham, Edward Gardiner had no doubt that, with Madeline at her side, Elizabeth would find the strength to deal with what was to come.

Knowing he could not leave his wife and niece at the Inn unaccompanied while he headed off to London in search of his foolish niece, Mr Gardiner stated his terms to Mr Darcy in a firm and resolute tone.

“Very well, but I must insist that you take Mrs Gardiner and my niece to stay at Pemberley. I cannot abandon the women in my charge at a tavern with no gentleman present,” Mr Gardiner said as he raised himself up to his full height.

If the circumstances had been different, Darcy might have smiled as he watched Elizabeth’s uncle puff out his chest assertively, but his mind was too preoccupied with catching Wickham to tarry on such thoughts.

Darcy knew of Wickham’s preference for innocent young girls, seducing and using them wherever and whenever he could. Even now, Darcy felt a hint of colour rise to his cheeks as he remembered one occasion at Cambridge University when he interrupted Wickham bedding a serving girl. What made it worse was that Wickham had expected Darcy to return and had purposely taken the girl to their shared rooms, knowing he would be caught. It irritated Darcy that he should have such memories thrust upon him by a man like Wickham.

Unfortunately, it was Mr Gardiner who was on the receiving end of Darcy’s irritation. It was unthinkable that Elizabeth and her aunt should not move to Pemberley once Mr Gardiner had left for the capital. Where better for Darcy to secure and oversee their protection than at Pemberley?

With renewed determination, Darcy spoke sharply to Mr Gardiner.

“That goes with saying, sir. Now, we must tarry no longer. Where George Wickham is concerned, every second counts.” With that, Darcy turned on his heels and strode back the way he had come.

When her aunt and uncle entered the small sitting room that adjoined their suite of rooms, Elizabeth rushed forward into the open arms of Mrs Gardiner.

“Oh, aunt, the most awful news! Lydia has eloped, and with Mr Wickham. We must return to Longbourn at once…,” It was now that Elizabeth saw Darcy had returned. “Oh, Mr Darcy…pray excuse me,” Elizabeth faltered, “I…I thought you had returned to Pemberley?”

“I needed to speak urgently to your uncle, Miss Bennet.” then Darcy turned once more to Mr Gardiner.

“Is one hour sufficient for you to settle your business here in Lambton?”

Mr Gardiner nodded.

“Very well, I will return to Pemberley and make the necessary arrangements for their arrival.” With a short bow, Darcy took his leave.

It took a moment for this information to filter through Elizabeth’s jumbled thoughts, but when it did, she turned to her uncle and asked,

“We are returning to Longbourn, are we not, Uncle? My family will be expecting us.”

Taking Elizabeth by the elbow, Mr Gardiner led her to a chair by the window and sat her down. Pulling up a chair for himself, he took hold of her hand.

“I understand that Mr Darcy and this Wickham fellow were friends at one time?” he asked in a soft tone.

“Yes, they were raised together, but I do not understand what this has to do with us returning to Longbourn?” Elizabeth replied.

Mr Gardiner glanced over to his wife, who also had no idea of the plans made by her husband and Mr Darcy.

“Mr Darcy believes that Wickham’s stay in London will be of a short duration, a few days at most. He predicts that this Wickham fellow has fooled everyone with his story of going to Scotland, and, in truth means to make his way north to Derbyshire. If that be the case Elizabeth, someone who knows the man and his idiosyncrasies will need to be at hand. Mr Darcy proposes to be that man. He has suggested, and I entirely agree with him, that I should make my way back to London and assist Mr Bennet in any way that I can. I understand from Jane’s letter that Colonel Forster has returned to Brighton and will continue to search for them there. Although, the odds of Mr Wickham returning to his regiment seem slim to me.”

Conscious of Elizabeth’s innocence, Mr Gardiner chose his next words with extra care.

“If Mr Darcy is correct, and I see no reason to doubt him, this Wickham fellow is likely to…tire…of your sister in a relatively short space of time.”

Although this notion had already crossed Elizabeth’s mind, these were harsh words for her to hear. She turned her head away as she tried to restrain the sob that had sprung up in her throat.

Mr Gardiner paused, giving Elizabeth a moment to compose herself, then continued with what needed to be said.

“When this happens, if this happens, it would be more reassuring for Lydia to have a member of her own family to hand. Someone to comfort and console her, rather than a stranger. That is why I have agreed to Mr Darcy’s plan. That you and Madeline stay at Pemberley until this matter is settled.”

“Stay on?” questioned Elizabeth, as she looked from her uncle to her aunt. “But I will be needed at Longbourn to help comfort my mother. You cannot expect me to leave poor Jane, who has suffered so much recently, to deal with the fallout of this scandal on her own.”

Mrs Gardiner acknowledged the pleading look from her husband and came to stand by his side.

“We must stay Lizzy; don’t you see? If Mr Darcy is right, and this man abandons Lydia, who would you have her to turn to? Miss Bingley? Mrs Hurst? Besides, there is Mary and Kitty and your Aunt Philips for Jane to call on. Lydia will have no-one if we do not stay.”

Elizabeth heard their words and agreed with their reasoning, but her heart still yearned to return to Longbourn, and not just to be of some comfort to Jane or her mamma.

Was it not humiliating enough that Mr Darcy knew of Lydia’s selfish and reckless behaviour? What if he shared her family’s humiliation and imminent disgrace with the rest of his party? It was almost too much to bear.

Elizabeth gave a scoff, reminding herself that soon the whole country would know of their family’s disgrace and not just Mr Darcy’s house guests. Oh, Lydia! Why had she done such a foolish thing? She must have realised she would expose her sisters to derision and censure.

Elizabeth’s thoughts quickly turned to who had encouraged Lydia in her foolishness. Have fun, my dear, enjoy yourself at every opportunity. Her own mother had promoted Lydia’s obsession with husband hunting and marriage. With these words ringing in her thoughts, Elizabeth’s heart hardened towards Mrs Bennet.

Poor Lydia. The possible fate that Mr Wickham intended for her was almost beyond comprehension; but not quite. Used and ruined, he would probably toss her aside like an empty wine bottle, with no regard for her safety, future, or reputation.

Elizabeth turned back to her uncle, and with a defiant tilt of her chin, said,

“Yes, of course, you are right, we must stay in Derbyshire.”