Today, we welcome not only one of our Austen’s most famous “villains,” Mr. George Wickham, but the lovely Catherine Curzon, a dear friend. But as the gentleman “demands” his due, let us first hear what Mr. Wickham has to say.
Dear readers, what an honour it is to be invited to join you today to share a little of my world. Some of you will know me already, but for those of you who do not, allow me a moment to make your acquaintance. I am Mr George Wickham, solider, husband, adventurer and, I assure, a thoroughly misunderstood gentleman. A rum sort of fellow from time to time, but never a wicked one, I assure you.
Whilst perusing the archives of this unusual library, I was at first amused, then latterly intrigued and finally dismayed by the infamy that has attached itself to my name thanks to the estimable Miss Austen. I am guilty of naught but a romantic heart, a fanciful thought now and again, of a weakness for a certain vintage of young lady and of being, perhaps, a fellow who trusts too much. What have I ever wanted but a little adventure, a little romance? And what misunderstandings might occur from a heartfelt compliment, an accidental twinkle in a gentleman’s eye that a lady who reads novels might misinterpret in her giddy romantic way?
And a lady who writes novels all the more so.
Now, I know that I have received the black spot from a good many of you and any efforts I might make to wipe it from my countenance are doomed to fail, yet I will tell you this, I am indeed a fortunate man to have found my Mrs Wickham. The young lady who took my name has proven herself to be a most able and understanding military wife. Never happier than when in the company of her many friends or perusing the newest bonnets, my dear Lydia and I have quite unexpectedly found ourselves perfectly matched. She understands that a man such as I cannot be shackled, and I understand that a lady such as she must be kept in the most current fashion and finest style. Happily, her delightful family have proven themselves most willing to see that happen. After all, one cannot expect a mere soldier, a man whose whole life has been dedicated to the selfless service of others, to give what meagre coin he receives to the milliner.
Happily, the Bennet family have proven themselves as generous as ever, for they truly are the best of people. They have been there at our side, offering what support that could to their daughter and her humble son-in-law, as he served his country. I, naturally, am not rich in coin and what I do not give to charity or invest in my household I use to eke out my own, meagre pleasures. Perhaps the occasional trip to the track, though not to gamble, you understand, only to observe, or a wander through town with my fellows, with just enough to buy a warming draft in my purse.
So I ask, what on earth would anyone believe I am deserving of my comeuppance for? Mrs Wickham adores me and I, of course, am very fond of her. How could one possibly deserve comeuppance for making one’s wife so happy, and for making such dreams as she once had come true? And it is not only my dear Lydia to whom I brought happiness, there is the delightful Mrs Darcy too.
Why, if not for my efforts to bring out Mrs Darcy’s intelligent character and good humour, I might even go so far as to suggest that Mr Darcy, the man who is good as my brother, might not have noted the charms of his own wife. After all, I do seem to recall that the couple were not at all fond of one another until I employed my conversation to engage Mrs Darcy, though my affections were reserved for her sister, of course. I would not be so arrogant as to seek thanks or recognition for this, but let us say that I played my part at least.
So you see, for those calling for my comeuppance, perhaps I am not so bad as I have been painted. And if I am, I’m dashed entertaining with it!
The serialised memoirs of Mr Wickham, edited and compiled from the Wickham family archives by Catherine Curzon, can be found at http://austenvariations.com/author/catherine-curzon/.
As the Reign of Terror tears Paris apart, a dandy and a spy are thrown together on a desperate race through France.
In the darkest days of the Reign of Terror, rumors grow of the Star of Versailles, the most exquisite treasure ever owned by the doomed Marie Antoinette. For Vincent Tessier, the notorious Butcher of Orléans, this potent symbol of the ancien régime has become an obsession and he’ll stop at nothing to possess it.
When Alexandre Gaudet arrives in France to find his missing sister and nephew, the last thing he expects is to fall into Tessier’s hands. With Gaudet tortured and left for dead, salvation stumbles accidentally, if rather decorously, into his path.
For Viscount William Knowles, life as a spy isn’t the escape he had hoped for. Yet a long-held secret won’t let him rest, and the fires of Revolution seem like the easiest way to hide from a past that torments him at every turn.
Adrift in a world where love, family and honor are currencies to be traded, the world-weary Viscount Knowles and the scandalous Monsieur Gaudet have no choice but to try to get along if they want to survive. With Tessier in pursuit, they search for the clues that will lead them to the greatest treasure in revolutionary France—the Star of Versailles.
Amazon US: http://tinyurl.com/h8tneo4
Amazon UK: http://tinyurl.com/hxjk7xo
Catherine Curzon is a royal historian who has been published on matters as diverse as Napoleon’s politics, Marie Antoinette’s teeth and George IV’s diet. Her work has been featured on HistoryExtra.com, the official website of BBC History Magazine and in publications such as Explore History, All About History, History of Royals and Jane Austen’s Regency World. She has provided additional research for An Evening with Jane Austen, starring Adrian Lukis, at the V&A and spoken at venues including the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, Lichfield Guildhall and Dr Johnson’s House.
She is the author of two nonfiction books, Life in the Georgian Court (available now) and Kings of 18th Century Great Britain (30th March 2017). Her novels, The Crown Spire, and The Star of Versailles, are available now.
Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, writes fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London and Revolutionary France, whilst her nonfiction books lift the lid on the most shocking tales of 18th century royalty!