The Real Georgiana Darcy, a Guest Post from Eliza Shearer

The Real Georgiana Darcy, a Guest Post from Eliza Shearer

Today, we welcome the fabulous Eliza Shearer to the Austen Authors’ blog with a piece on one of our favorite characters, but one Miss Austen did not flush out when she wrote Pride and Prejudice: Georgiana Darcy. 

Chatsworth

The Real Georgiana Darcy

By Eliza Shearer

The Janeite community was recently torn with the news that a new TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is in the works. It’s going to be a “dark” and “adult” interpretation of the novel, and I must admit I’m intrigued by the vision of the producers and what they intend to achieve. But, above all, I can’t wait to see what Mr Darcy’s little sister Georgiana looks like in this new adaptation.

Although Georgiana Darcy doesn’t have a single line in Pride and Prejudice, she is crucial to the story: through her existence, we see that her brother has a soft side, and that Wickham lacks any kind of moral compass. Georgiana’s near-elopement also contributes to explain Darcy’s motives and behaviour toward the end of the novel, when Wickham and Lydia Bennet run away together.

Georgiana is sweet, naive, shy and very accomplished, but, as it’s often the case in Austen, we have scant detail about her appearance. Nevertheless, since the mostly superb 1995 TV series adaptation, the collective subconscious has embraced a very particular look for Georgiana, which the 2005 film confirmed. In both versions, Georgiana (played by Emilia Fox and Tamzin Merchant respectively) is blonde, petite and beautiful – quite unlike Jane Austen portrayed her.

Granted, we cannot be sure about Georgiana’s hair colour, or about her brother’s for that matter; it’s simply not discussed in Pride and Prejudice. However, we have some clues as to Georgiana’s height and figure in the novel. When Elizabeth Bennet is in Netherfield during her sister Jane’s indisposition, she witnesses Miss Bingley trying to establish a conversation with Mr Darcy which includes the following exchange:

“Is Miss Darcy much grown since the spring?” said Miss Bingley; “will she be as tall as I am?”

“I think she will. She is now about Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s height, or rather taller.”

(Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 8)

That Georgiana is rather tall for her age is later confirmed when Elizabeth finally meets Georgiana and gives her account of what the girl looks like:

Miss Darcy was tall, and on a larger scale than Elizabeth; and, though little more than sixteen, her figure was formed, and her appearance womanly and graceful. She was less handsome than her brother; but there was sense and good humour in her face, and her manners were perfectly unassuming and gentle.

(Pride and Prejudice, chapter 44)

The above description suggests that Georgiana Darcy is tall, curvy, and robust, particularly so if compared to Elizabeth’s petite proportions. It makes sense if we consider that one of the few things we know for sure about Mr Darcy is that he is tall.

Elizabeth’s thoughts on Georgiana also suggest that Mr Darcy’s little sister doesn’t share his good looks. All other characters, including the Bingleys and the Pemberley housekeeper, declare Georgiana to be handsome, but we should take their comments with a pinch of salt. Georgiana is most likely not ugly, but neither is she beautiful. A far cry, then, from the type of girl the screen adaptations insist on showing us.

The fact is that casting decisions of TV and film versions of Jane Austen’s works have often given viewers distorted portraits of much-loved characters, including but not limited to Colonel Fitzwilliam, Fanny Price and Captain Wentworth. However, in the case of Georgiana Darcy, it’s a shame that casting directors have chosen to ignore whatever little is stated about her in Pride and Prejudice, because it makes the story a lot more interesting, especially if one reads between the lines.

Here are two examples of what I’m talking about. First, take Georgiana’s extreme timidity: it might be worsened by the fact that she is aware that she is no beauty, in spite of her brother’s handsome looks. Then, there’s Wickham’s seduction attempt; if there was any doubt that he is exclusively motivated by money, Jane Austen makes it clear that the type of woman he likes – dainty, pretty and lively girls such as Elizabeth and Lydia Bennet – is Georgiana’s polar opposite.

Jane Austen teases us with glimpses of Georgiana as much more than a timid young woman haunted by a past mistake, and I for one always believed that Miss Darcy had the emotional depth to be a great heroine. There was so much to explore in her; fear of the unknown, insecurity, jealousy, fleeting fancies, but also generosity, kindness, love. After much consideration, I finally put pen to paper to write Miss Darcy’s Beaux, a Pride and Prejudice continuation that follows Georgiana to London in search of a husband, chaperoned by Lady Catherine de Bourgh.

Miss Darcy’s Beaux gives answers to some of the most enticing questions at the end of Pride and Prejudice. How will Elizabeth fare as Mrs Darcy? Will the Bennets make themselves at home in Pemberley? Whatever happens to Lady Catherine and Anne de Bourgh after Darcy marries Elizabeth? What does fate have in stock for Colonel Fitzwilliam? And will Georgiana grow out of her extreme shyness and find happiness, as her brother did?

Above all, I believe that Miss Darcy’s Beaux is faithful to the essence of the character as described in Pride and Prejudice. I like to think that my Georgiana is just like Jane Austen imagined – or at least a much closer depiction than that of most casting directors to date. However, there is always the anticipation that the next time around someone will get it just right. Here’s hoping that the new Pride and Prejudice adaptation will do Georgiana justice, at last.

You will find Miss Darcy’s Beaux on Amazon, Kobo, Nook and CreateSpace eStore, as well as GoodReads.

Thanks for reading!

Miss Darcy’s Beaux: A Persuasion, Mansfield Park and Pride and Prejudice continuation (Austeniana Book 1)

For Georgiana, the time had come to make a suitable match… 

“… a wonderful debut…”

“… a journey of discovery for Georgiana to find herself and what really matters in life…” 

“There is deception, mystery, jealousy, backstabbing, romance and true love.” 

“… the sort of story that makes you care for the characters; the kind of book that stays with you long after you finish reading it.” 

Fitzwilliam Darcy’s beloved sister Georgiana is now a woman of twenty. After living in the enclosed safety of Pemberley for years, she is sent to London for the season with Lady Catherine de Bourgh as her chaperone. Lady Catherine is determined that her niece shall make a splendid match. But will Georgiana allow her domineering aunt to decide for her? Or will she do as her brother did, and marry for love? 

More on what readers are saying about Miss Darcy’s Beaux:

“Breathtaking… I loved how the story includes appearances by characters from three different Jane Austen novels.”

“Eliza Shearer’s delightful Pride and Prejudice sequel is packed with surprises for the fans.” 

“Romantic, sensitive and faithful to the spirit of Jane Austen’s work.”

About Eliza Shearer

Eliza Shearer is a long-time an admirer of Jane Austen’s work and writer of Jane Austen variations. She can often be found enjoying long walks and muddying her petticoats, or re-reading Jane Austen’s novels by the fireside. She is very partial to bread and butter pudding, satin slippers and bonnets and ribbons, but has never cared much for cards. You can find Eliza Shearer on:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Eliza_Shearer_

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ElizaShearerWriter/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/eliza_shearer/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16794765.Eliza_Shearer

Website/Blog: https://elizashearerblog.wordpress.com/  

16 Responses to The Real Georgiana Darcy, a Guest Post from Eliza Shearer

  1. Georgiana is often just overlooked. Of course she isn’t pregnant. Darcy would never, ever introduce Elizabeth and her relatives to a sister who was pregnant out of wedlock. For one thing , he have would forced the marriage to Wickham even if the child were the result of rape. A womanly figure just meant she had a bosom and hips and didn’t look like a little girl any more.
    The movies don’t do a good job of following an author’s story line much less descriptions. . Mrs. Bennet is never pretty enough. She is not much more than 40 and has to still be quite pretty if not beautiful. While she need not be doll like pretty as Lady Bertram she has to still retain enough beauty to make it obvious that Mr. Bennet fell for a pretty face. It would also help if Jane and Lydia looked more like her at least in coloring. Both , also , have to be pretty.

  2. Hello Eliza and welcome 🙂

    You know, I never before realized that Georgiana doesn’t say a single thing in Pride and Prejudice. I’ve read so many variations, I think I got it into my head she has a line or two.

    I agree, she’s a fascinating character, and should be portrayed as tall. As for her looks, I think so much of what’s considered pretty is in keeping with a particular time period, that there’s more liberty to take there. However, after reading your thoughts, I agree that if Elizabeth is cast as being pretty in one way, Georgiana, if she’s cast as pretty, must be so in a different way, if that makes sense. I see what you’re saying, that her appearance didn’t conform to the idea of perfection at that time and wasn’t alike to Elizabeth’s.

    Thank you for a great post 🙂

    • Great point about the different interpretations of beauty. It reminded me of Mansfield Park, and of Maria and Julia Bertram not really minding Mary Crawford’s beauty because it is so different from their own.

      “Miss Crawford’s beauty did her no disservice with the Miss Bertrams. They were too handsome themselves to dislike any woman for being so too, and were almost as much charmed as their brothers with her lively dark eye, clear brown complexion, and general prettiness. Had she been tall, full formed, and fair, it might have been more of a trial: but as it was, there could be no comparison; and she was most allowably a sweet, pretty girl, while they were the finest young women in the country.” (Mansfield Park, Chapter 5)

      Let’s hope the new adaptation bears such things in mind 😉

  3. I never really thought about the depiction of Georgiana in my favourite (and in my humble opinion,definite) ’95 version of P&P.

    The casting of Emilia Fox,while a wonderful actress, isn’t really faithful to the Georgiana that Jane wrote. This never occurred to me before!

    The fact that she isn’t as handsome as her brother or as lively as Lizzy and Lydia also never occurred to me,as it illustrates that Wickham only wanted her dowry and spun her nothing but baseless lies.

    I’ve read that the fact that Jane mentioned Georgiana’s ‘womanly’ figure could mean that she was with child as a result of her dalliance with Wickham.
    I wonder is that correct?

    I must admit that I really enjoyed this post as it provided much food for thought.

    • I didn’t know about the speculation of Georgiana being with child. Fascinating stuff! I personally think that she would never sleep with a man before getting married (unlike others…) but that’s just my view. Glad you enjoyed the post!

  4. I always thought Georgiana was a nice counterpoint to Caroline. Darcy and Bingley have the complete opposite in sisters. It will be interesting to see what the new version does with her, and all of the characters. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Welcome, Eliza! We are honored to have you as our guest today!

    Excellent post! I could not agree with you more. Personally, having written my own novel exploring Georgiana Darcy, I think it is wonderful that Jane Austen left so much vague when it comes to her characters. As authors of JAFF, it gives us lots of leeway to be creative! I wish you great luck with your novel. Most sincerely, Sharon

  6. Thanks for this glimpse of Georgiana through your eyes. I love stories that include her character, since as you said, we know so little about her. AND because of that, it leaves a lot of room for creativity on the authors part. Jen Red

Your thoughts are precious!