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Lydia Bennet’s Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia’s online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet’s Story, begins.

When I came to, everything was upside down and the air strangely quiet except for the whinnying of the horses, the creaking of tree branches which were poking through the window of the coach, and the low moaning of my companions who appeared hurt and shaken.
I managed to climb through the window after smashing the glass with my morocco bag, (though who can say if the tortoiseshell panels will ever be the same) partly covering my head and shoulders with what remained of my mantle. The rest of it lay torn and trapped between two solid oak branches and had to be left behind, but I was grateful simply to be uninjured. I could not think what to do next. I called out to Shaw the coachman for assistance but he was not conscious and so having made my friends as comfortable as one can in an upturned carriage, I decided to head back to St. Albans to find Mr Wickham. I reassured Harriet and Emma who were conscious yet in no fit state to move and then I set off back the way we had come.
Our coachman had clearly taken a detour, we were off the main road and so there was no one around who could assist me. I was very cold without my cloak, the rain was persistent and drenched through my thin dress very quickly. I ran as fast as I could and had gone a fair distance when feelings of panic started to overcome me. I did not really know where I was going, I thought I was headed in the right direction but I could not be sure. You may imagine my feelings of relief when the figure of a gentleman I recognised loomed out of the torrent on horseback, but in my effort to avoid being ridden over I leaped for the safety of the hedge quite missing my footing and fell headlong into the ditch. All was confusion as darkness overcame me!
“Miss Bennet, Miss Bennet,” Mr Wickham’s urgent voice called me back to consciousness. I was suddenly aware of his manly figure looming above me, his mouth pressing on mine, which produced so curious a sensation all over me, that I was unable to come to immediately.
“Forgive me,” he said, as I struggled at last to sit up, “you were unconscious and as I am trained to relieve symptoms such as yours, I had no choice but to administer the kiss of life, to give you the breath from my own body. Are you quite well, Miss Bennet? Good God, I am relieved. I could not think what I would say to your mother if you were taken from us!”
“I am well, I think, but very cold, I am not dressed for this weather as you can see,” I laughed as I saw that he was studying my form intently, from top to bottom. I blushed, as it was very clear that he was far from shocked by my appearance and was enjoying the spectacle.
“I felt I had neglected my duty to you all for selfish reasons of my own,” he whispered. “I had to come back and make sure you were all safe. Thank the Lord that I did, although I cannot forgive myself, if I had been with you I might have prevented such an accident.”
“Even the great George Wickham would not have been able to prevent the demise of an ancient tree in a gale,” I retorted.
With one swift move he lifted me into his arms and carried me back whence I had come. It was impossible not to stare up at his handsome face above me as he walked. Once, he met my eyes and such a look passed between us as I cannot describe!
Before long help was summoned. Mr Wickham helped my trapped friends to their freedom and made our coachman comfortable. It was soon decided that it would be best to secure a room at an inn for the evening and return home on the morrow. Letters were quickly despatched to Colonel Forster and Captain Nicolson telling them of our calamity and the new plans. It was decided that we need not worry mama with a letter, as she was not expecting me home until the next day and so what had started as a most frightening ordeal, turned out to be strangely exhilarating and ended with friends, more intimate than ever, round a cosy fire, swapping stories from the past and hearty jokes from the present.

By some miracle, all our purchases are safe, Colonel Forster has been able to have his carriage repaired and through some contrivance of all the party involved, my mother is not wise to the full story. Papa, as ever, has no inkling. I myself have made light of it and fortunately they are both so occupied with their own concerns, she with the unmarried state of her elder daughters and he with the perusal of a new book in his study, that the incident has not even been mentioned.
I must admit that my admiration for Mr Wickham grows daily and I find in moments of reflection that the entire episode has a habit of playing over in my mind. I still feel the warmth of his lips on mine.
Mary King will be a lucky girl if she weds him!

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Lydia Bennet’s Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia’s online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet’s Story, begins.

Saturday, March 13th, 1802

To my surprise as I entered Emma’s sweet parlour, there sat the very Miss Harringtons that Mr Wickham had made reference to in our recent discourse. They are Harriet’s distant cousins on her mother’s side of the family and I am pleased to report that they seem jolly girls, if a little plain and dowdy. After the formality of the initial introductions, our subject for conversation turned naturally towards those with whom we have most in common.

“It has been so dull since your sister left, Miss Fitzalan,” I remarked, “Kitty and I have not bothered to venture out so much. Everything is so tedious at this time of year, the cold, the wind, the dirty walks, even the officers have failed to inspire our notice, despite all the efforts of your very own sweet Colonel. Mr Wickham who is a great favourite has lately been completely taken over by Mary King, so we have not even been able to enjoy his society. We enjoyed such a round of parties and balls in December and, I daresay, the seasonal celebrations have taken their toll. But now you are come and we have been so starved of like minds with which to have a lark, that you are a sight to behold!”

“Miss Bennet, I am heartily glad to have made your acquaintance at last. I have heard of nothing else from Isabella but of you and your sisters for the past two months, and you are truly a dear friend, I hope to us both,” Harriet replied. “I am sorry that your sisters are otherwise engaged, I long to meet them all. I cannot tell you how fortunate I am to be here at last. I could not let Isabella forgo invitations to Meryton and Bath and, as it has worked out, I could not have wished for a better outcome. I am thrilled that Isabella has found herself a husband.”

“If only we could go to Bath, Penelope,” sighed the elder Miss Harrington, “I’m sure we would have a better chance at getting ourselves wed. I think husbands grow on trees in that place. Last winter my cousin Sophia caught herself a fine one after just one week’s visit and he was by no means the first who applied for her hand!”

“I think we can safely conjecture that anyone of us here might have caught the notice of an impoverished handsome Lord, for that was what he was,” laughed Penelope, “if we had Sophia’s fortune. She had the money and he had the title, so it suited them both. I am not convinced that any trips to Bath, Brighton or Cheltenham would have any benefits for our health, our wealth or our chances of matrimony, I daresay we would come back poorer than we went. Unless a young man is going to be smitten by my looks and charm, I would say that my chances of embracing the married state are nought. What say you, Miss Bennet?”

“I have always supposed that my face would be my fortune, I have nothing else to offer in the way of riches except my natural allurements and, I own that life as a spinster without the prospect of marriage has never been a consideration. I have read of many cases where love is the motive and even Kings have been smitten with ordinary girls, quite out of their sphere.” I said. “Besides, we have an example of true love right under our very noses,” I persisted, “Miss Fitzalan and Colonel Forster, a love match made in heaven.”

Harriet blushed. “Well, I hope whilst I am here that I may find husbands for you all,” she said. “And I do hope that you are going to help and advise me on the best places to go for wedding clothes, as Henry and I will be married here by special license in April. There is not much time and I do not know where to start, although Isabella has made a suggestion that a trip to St Albans may be the very thing to put me out of my misery.”

“I have been there occasionally with mama and papa,” I said, “and the shops are magnificent. There are mantua makers and warehouses full of imported cloths, fine India muslins, local silk and all manner of straw bonnets and headpieces. It is but twelve miles away from here along good roads. There are forty coaches a day and it would make a lovely day trip. ’tis a pity you could not have come sooner, I have been to the fair at Michaelmas and witnessed all the gaiety of the country for many miles around, exhibitions and shows of the wonderful and marvellous, including Mr Richardson’s travelling theatre and performers.”

“How delightful!” Harriet exclaimed. “A trip to St Alban’s will exceed my expectations I am sure and you must all accompany me. Henry can come too, lest we be attacked by robbers and we will take the coach. Emma, you will of course be our chaperone, won’t you? What do you say to our little adventure? What a handsome scheme!”

The Misses Harrington clapped in their excitement. There were nods and exclamations of approval all round.
Harriet has suggested a date of the 22nd March, se’ennight following the Assembly Ball. I must speak to mama about some allowance for my pocket. I knew life would be more fun with Harriet in town!

Lydia Bennet

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Lydia Bennet’s Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia’s online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet’s Story, begins.

I set off for Meryton shortly after breakfast and met Mr Wickham in the High Street, intent on a few calls.

“Miss Bennet, I declare I have not seen you or any of your family for a month at least. Have you all been in hiding?” he asked with a mischievous grin, as he stepped in alongside me with a bow and a flourish.

“No,” I retorted. “Any reasons I might have had for hiding have long since disappeared and are enjoying themselves at Bath, as well you know. My sister Jane is still in London, Catherine has gone to stay with her friend in Hatfield and I believe you did see my sister Elizabeth before she went to Hunsford, not more than five days ago.”

I paused outside the milliner’s and made a study of the bonnets in the window and my reflection in the glass. I glanced sideways at Mr Wickham and twirled a curl that was intent on escaping from my bonnet around my finger.

“Ah yes I did, you are quite correct,” he answered. “Forgive me, it had quite escaped my mind. How is Miss Elizabeth? Have you had any news? Has Lady Catherine condescended to entertain your sister and the Collinses?”

“Elizabeth is quite well, thank you, but suffering greatly as far as any of us can tell from the tone of her letters which are very few. She has dined once at Rosings Park, I believe, but we have yet to hear the particulars. I daresay she will survive, but it must be a dull month she will have to endure, without the promise of any stimulating company or dancing. I envied her the trip at first, but I am so glad to be here now that Colonel Forster’s Harriet is come.”

“And so am I, glad that you are not gone with your sisters. Who would make me laugh, Miss Bennet? What should I do for amusement? And if you went away, I should have no-one to dance with-now what should I do then?”

“You are cruel to tease me so, Mr Wickham, and I think you had best not let Mary King hear you say that you would have no partner with which to dance. How is she? I have not seen her lately. We have been much at home with the weather as it is and, I have had much to do,” I added quickly, lest he should think I am a hopeless creature with no interests, pursuits or society.

“Miss King is well enough, I daresay, but you are probably as well qualified to comment on her welfare, as I have not seen her for a fortnight and then t’was only to tip her the nod as she was calling on her friend, Miss Harrington. Are you acquainted with the Miss Harrington’s?”

“I know them slightly, not as well as I would wish,” I stated before enquiring if Mr Wickham had seen anything of Colonel Forster’s fiancee.

“Tell me Mr Wickham, have you seen Miss Harriet Fitzalan yet? What is she like?”

“She is a very handsome young girl, a little older than you, I would guess. Indeed, I would say the Colonel is a very fortunate fellow.”

“What, have you already been introduced? Pray, is she fair like her sister? Has she Isabella’s blue eyes? Do not delay, Mr Wickham. Do tell all!”

“No Miss Bennet, I have not yet had the pleasure of introduction, but I certainly had a capital view of her stepping out of the carriage when she arrived early this morning and, I think I can safely describe her appearance as most attractive. Whether she is dark or fair, however, I cannot say, owing to the large bonnet and bunches of ribbons that were obscuring her hair and most of her features. I will never understand why young ladies enjoy wearing such contraptions on their heads and the practice certainly impedes any chap’s close scrutiny, which has to be a disadvantage to my way of thinking.”

“What do you mean by this, you impossible tease, I do not believe you have noticed anything about Harriet apart from the turn of her pretty ankle, which is just the sort of feature that arrests the attentions of certain gentlemen who strut about Meryton in scarlet coats, giving their pronounced opinions on any poor creature who happens to cross their path. Deny that you are one of them!”

“Miss Bennet, you treat me too harshly, but then, what can I expect from a girl whose heart is still tender from a bruising?”

“Mr Wickham, you vex me exceedingly. Indeed, my heart is not bruised or even grazed and, if you make one more reference to that gentleman, I declare I shall never stand up with you again. I am not in love with him, I never was and, you quite mistake the matter!”

“Consider it settled, Miss Lydia Bennet, I shall never mention a certain person within your hearing ever again as long as I have the breath in my body to cut a quadrille, for henceforth I will live in fear of being shunned and spurned by your good self on the dance floor. Speaking of the latter, when may I expect to have the pleasure of dancing with you again, do you think?”

“If you ask me very nicely as a gentleman ought, I may consider taking a turn with you at the next Assembly Ball, which I believe is to be held on Monday. That is, if you are not already engaged to dance every one with a certain young lady whose talents far exceed my own,” I added, with a playful reference to Mary King’s legacy.

George Wickham’s eyes narrowed as they penetrated mine, yet he laughed as he took his leave and graciously requested to be given the honour of leading me in the dances. “I will teach you a new Valse, my dear, Miss Bennet, in which I am sure you will excel. And despite what you have to say about Mary King’s accomplishments, whatever they may be, I think you know there are none who dance as beautifully as you. It will be my pleasure to be your instructor and I look forward to the Ball!”

A brand new Valse! How I long to see such a dance and to have the joy of partnering Mr Wickham again, I daresay I shall be the envy of all!
After this encounter, I called briefly on my aunt to tell her about Harriet’s arrival. She was very pleased to see me but I could not stay long as it was time to keep my engagement at Emma’s and finally meet Harriet. As Emma opened the door, I could hear high spirited conversation and laughter and knew before I set eyes on her, that Miss Harriet Fitzalan would be the epitome of good nature and playfulness.

She is everything that I admire in a fellow creature. Harriet is tall and slender with dark eyes and brown curly hair which falls in natural ringlets about her face. She is very pretty and is possessed of a sunny disposition. Indeed, it is when she laughs that she reminds me most of her sister. In physical appearance, she is as different as any sibling can be from another, but there is something in her manner and personality which is so similar to Isabella that we are on easy terms already. I just know we shall be great friends!

Lydia Bennet

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Lydia Bennet’s Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia’s online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet’s Story, begins.

Friday, March 12th, 1802
Another letter from Lizzy arrived this morning, which mama read at the breakfast table. Lady Catherine’s daughter Anne called at the vicarage in her phaeton on Wednesday. Lizzy is pleased to report that she is very thin, cross and sickly, an entirely suitable candidate as a spouse for Mr Darcy. Lady C. has high hopes for a match and this idea has amused my sister greatly. Her description of Charlotte and Mr Collins standing at the gate in the wind, hanging on to Miss de Bourgh’s every word, whilst Sir William waited at the door, smiling and bowing alternately before them brought much hilarity to our table. Papa who normally has his head buried in a newspaper was actually very animated on the subject, although it prompted him to say how much he was missing his eldest daughters, particularly Lizzy.
They have all dined at Rosings Park and Lizzy has met the great Lady Catherine herself. We could imagine the exultation with which Mr Collins received this invitation, proving his intimacy with his neighbour and suffering poor Lizzy to listen to yet more conceit. Thank the Lord I am in Meryton with all the officers! I would not swap her situation for all the tea in China!

Lydia Bennet

Charles Brock illustration from Pemberley

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Lydia Bennet’s Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia’s online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet’s Story, begins.

Thursday, 11th March, 1802

Mama received news from Lizzy this morning – despite the fact that she writes with compassion for Charlotte and with derision of our cousin, it has nevertheless set mama off again into a diatribe of what might have been. Lizzy’s account of their comfortable surroundings and description of a tour of the house and garden had mama exclaiming how some people who ought to be satisfied with one house agreeably fitted up, should not be so anxious to snatch another from under the very noses of its rightful owners. However, she took some comfort from the fact that the house is small, and was forced to laugh out loud at Lizzy’s revelation that Mr Collins is a great gardner and is encouraged by his new wife to be in his garden at every opportunity – thus reaping the benefits of exercise for good health – and as I see it, keeping out of her way.

Cousin Collins is very pleased with his patroness, he and Charlotte dine at Rosings twice a week and are never allowed to walk home.
Kitty has gone to stay with a friend in Hatfield for a fortnight. Selina Deane is one of the dullest girls I know. I cannot think how Kitty will stomach her company for all that time – she will miss the party on Saturday and will not have the pleasure of meeting Harriet. I am sure if I were her, I would have declined Selina’s invite in favour of accompanying my sister who is far more fun!

I persuaded mama that we might go shopping in Meryton this morning as Mrs Brown has just received some new muslins. She bought white muslin for Jane and Lizzy, and I found the prettiest material with pink flowers just perfect for a spring gown. It will do very nicely for Harriet’s reception if I can have it made up in time. I hope papa will not notice all my mother’s purchases for he is sure to make her send them back. My new bonnet of white persian trimmed with an ostrich feather looked so well on my head in the milliner’s that my mother did not have the heart to refuse me – and I insisted that she treat herself to the blue with matching feathers, so we are both well satisfied. I have hidden my hat for the time being because if Kitty gets wind of it I shall be plagued to death with her protestations.
Saw several very handsome officers, who for their cheeky impudence flashed many smiles and winks in my direction. That Mr Wickham is most blatant in his admiration! I cannot blame any of them, if I say so myself, the sunshine and spring air has put quite a bloom in my cheeks!

Lydia Bennet

Engraving of Westerham, Kent. Westerham is near to Jane Austen’s Hunsford

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Lydia Bennet’s Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia’s online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet’s Story, begins.

Monday, March 8th, 1802
Lizzy set off for Hunsford today with Sir William Lucas and his daughter Maria. They are all gone to see how Charlotte does – I do hope married life is suiting her, but I would bet all my ivory fish that she has exchanged her glowing bridal fervour for a haunted countenance and a sombre disposition.
Most vexing is the knowledge that they are to break their journey in London to call on the Gardiners to see Jane and will, no doubt, find time to go shopping and have a pleasant evening’s entertainment at the theatre. How I long to go shopping in London. I can’t even get as far as Ware! When I am a married lady, my daughters will have numerous carriages at their disposal, at any time of the year, for travelling on any state of road and in any weather!!
I have had a letter from Emma N. inviting Kitty and I to a reception for Harriet on Saturday, as she is very keen to meet us and will have no other acquaintance in Meryton apart from her dear Henry and the Miss Harrington’s who are distant cousins. I do wonder if she looks like Isabella and I sincerely wish she is as much fun. Lord! I hope she is as handsome and agreeable.
On reflection I am convinced, that no matter what her physical attractions may or may not be, she must surely be a woman of fashion and sensibility. I will take care to dress myself in my best cambric muslin, crimson mantle and velvet bonnet!

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I’ve just spent a lovely long weekend in Bath and the surrounding area and have been very busy taking photos which I hope you will all enjoy. I’ve got to sort out some technicalities, but I’ll be posting soon on what I saw in Bath and Lacock in particular. In the meantime, here’s that naughty Lydia with another diary entry.

Lydia Bennet’s Online Diary.
At this time of the year I always read Pride and Prejudice and I thought it would be fun to see what Lydia is thinking about all the goings on at Longbourn. Lydia’s online diary starts just before Mr Bingley arrives and finishes where my novel, Lydia Bennet’s Story, begins.

Friday, March 5th, 1802
I am torn between feeling cross at the news that my sister Elizabeth has been invited on a jaunt to Hunsford and elated at the prospect of meeting Isabella’s sister Harriet, who is engaged to Colonel Forster. She is to arrive a week today, according to a letter received from Isabella this morning, and she is eager to make my acquaintance. I have heard so much about her from Isabella that I feel we are bosom intimates already; but as to her description I know very little. Isabella is quite a pretty girl, though perhaps she is not so fortunate as to be blessed with the beauty that we Bennet girls possess. Oh, I know it is immodest to say so, but it is the truth and the looking glass cannot lie! Her figure is good, but perhaps not as comely as it could be and despite my advice about taking a little cream with one’s porridge, her poor legs might still be described as lucky. Lucky? Lucky they don’t snap – I assure you, it’s an expression I would never use, but ‘Kitty Couldn’t Give a Care’ (as I call her) says it constantly! Well, I expect dear Harriet will be very lovely and I cannot wait to see how Colonel Forster behaves as a beau in love!!!

As for Lizzy going off in pursuit of pleasure – to tell the truth I do not care so very much for her dreary trip-she will be spending all her time with Charlotte and Mr Collins. Her evenings will no doubt be spent in dull discourse with them and his patroness Lady Catherine de Bourgh, who will more than likely keep them all in their place by having Collins read to them from Fordyce’s sermons each night. No, I think I am most fortunate to be staying where I am for the present, with the prospect of some congenial female company and some sport at the officer’s expense.

Lydia Bennet

Photo of Luckington Court, location for Longbourn 1995

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