Thank you so much for having me! It’s been a long five-year road to publishing Undoing, so I’m so excited for everyone to finally see what I’ve been holding on to for all this time. I thought I’d share a bit of my inspiration and thought process behind Elizabeth’s husband, Thomas Osborne, Duke of Leeds. I have a small excerpt after, a letter from Elizabeth to Jane. I hope you enjoy!
In Particular Intentions, I use the Earl Fitzwilliam as a nod to the actual earldom many believe Jane Austen used to show Fitzwilliam Darcy’s ties to the nobility in Pride and Prejudice, and I had some fun in a similar way with Undoing as well.
Have you ever heard of Lady Amelia Darcy? No, she is not a character in a Jane Austen novel. She was a real woman and the only surviving child of Robert Darcy, the 4th Earl of Holderness. Now, you are probably asking what her connection is to Undoing. Well, I will not say that is a simple answer, but I will give you the real and the fiction of Amelia Darcy.
In 1773, the real Lady Amelia Darcy married Francis Osborne, who was at that time the Marquess of Carmarthen. After Amelia’s death, Osborne became the 5th Duke of Leeds. When I first started writing Undoing over five years ago, I called the duke in my story by a different title (that’s a story for another blog post!) and his first name was Thomas. When I began updating it, I remembered this link between a real-life Darcy and a dukedom and wanted to use that link in my story as well—a little reality mixed in with the fiction.
The first thing I did was change the duke’s title to the Duke of Leeds. The problem was when I checked the name of Amelia and Francis’s son, it was George, a commonly used name for Fitzwilliam Darcy’s father. In fact, I had already been using George Darcy in the story. The last thing I wanted to do was go back and change every occurrence of Thomas and George, and frankly, I really liked the names the way they were. Just for kicks, I checked the names of the Dukes of Leeds before and after Francis to see if another name would fit. The Osborne men did not have a wide variety of first names, using Peregrine and Thomas most frequently. Needless to say, Thomas was there so I kept Thomas.
So does Amelia appear in Undoing? Yes and no. Amelia is referred to in Undoing, though only as Thomas’s mother. He is an older gentleman, only a few years the elder Mr. Darcy’s senior, so the fictional Amelia is long gone. However, I still love the true to life Darcy connection.
Just to give you a bit more information on the real Amelia. She had her own titles to join those of the Marquess. With the death of her father in 1778, she became the 12th Baroness Darcy de Knayth and the 9th Baroness Conyers since she was Robert Darcy’s only surviving child.
In contrast to the story, the real Amelia Osborne, much like Lydia Bennet, was not an ideal relation. In 1779, Lord and Lady Carmarthen actually divorced. Lord Carmarthen accused Amelia of adultery with John “Mad Jack” Byron, father of poet Lord Byron. Supposedly, Byron visited Amelia at her Grosvenor Square home while her husband was not in residence. The interesting part is that Amelia married Byron almost as soon as her divorce was complete—a patched up affair indeed!
L. L. Diamond
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