If you close your eyes and say “Elizabeth Bennet”, who do you see? This is something that I have tried to do many times whilst writing about her, with varying success.
Of course, throughout The Elizabeth Papers, “Elizabeth Bennet” is in fact, “Elizabeth Darcy”. The story commences in 1817, when our favourite couple have been married for some four years. At the very outset of this story, Elizabeth is, as she would have it, four and twenty years of age. She is married and has two young children with another one well on the way. In fact, she spends quite a lot of The Elizabeth Papers pregnant.
All of these things have ramifications for what she looks like, and how we can imagine her. I’m conscious that we are all influenced by the various actresses who have played Elizabeth. Often, once we have seen a character performed, we can’t get that face out of our minds. I have tried to apply a sort of method acting theory to my writing. Basically, I try to imagine myself back in time. What do the clothes feel like? How do the hairstyles feel when you touch your hand to them? How comfortable was Mr. Darcy’s carriage as it rattled out of Pemberley?
The questions crop up in relation to other characters as well of course. What does Mr. Darcy really look like? We know that he’s tall, but how tall? How have the years treated the wider Bennet family? Whay. I hope that you enjoy it. Can you guess who I imagine each one to be?