You may have heard the exciting news that Shannon Winslow has a new novel out called Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words. But what you might not know is that I played an important role in the inception of the book! About a year ago, I sat down for a brief, informal interview with the famous literary hero himself, and then one thing led to another…
Maria Grazia: Hello, Mr. Darcy and welcome to my humble place. It is certainly a great honour for me to meet you and a magnificent occasion to have the chance to talk with you today.
Darcy: [makes a slight bow] Thank you, madam. The honour is mine, I’m sure.
Maria Grazia: Oh, dear! I have so many questions for you and so little time. But I’d like to start by getting your reaction to a quote from a good friend of mine. Her name is Jane Austen, and after spending considerable time with you, she wrote: “Darcy was clever. He was at the same time haughty, reserved, and fastidious, and his manners, though well bred, were not inviting.” What is your response?
Darcy: Ms. Austen is, I believe, known for her keen insights into the human character and condition. Although I take some exception to the term “haughty,” the rest is entirely accurate.
Maria Grazia: You admit to being reserved, fastidious, and having well-bred but uninviting manners?
Darcy: Of course! These are not crimes, after all, although I do regret that such traits often make my actions and intentions easily misunderstood, especially with new acquaintances.
Maria Grazia: Ah, yes, I’m glad you mentioned that. Another friend of mine, Miss Elizabeth Bennet, told me she was indeed quite offended after meeting you for the first time. Did you really refuse to dance with her on that occasion?
Darcy: To my eternal shame, I must admit that I did. But there is much more to that story, I assure you – extenuating circumstances, faulty assumptions, and so forth, all of which I would be happy to explain.
Maria Grazia: We may come back to that if there’s time. But I wanted to be sure to ask you about something else, too. I’ve heard you have wedding plans. Can you confirm that you are soon to marry your cousin, Miss Anne de Bourgh?
Darcy: Certainly not!
Maria Grazia: Well, sorry, that is what Lady Catherine herself told a group of reliable ladies at a tea party. Or is this another one of those “misunderstandings” you spoke of?
Darcy: Yes, in a way. You see, it all started when our mothers got their heads together many years ago, just after Anne was born…
Maria: Excuse me, Mr. Darcy, but is this going to be a very long story? Because I’m afraid our time is running out, and I really did want to get to a few other things.
Darcy: Such as?
Maria Grazia: Such as the truth about your dealings with George Wickham. I’d like to know more about your parents and your responsibilities to your sister, too. And then there’s the business of her trip to Ramsgate. There seems to have been something not quite proper about that, or so I heard. Also, I was wondering about the current status of your relationship with Elizabeth Bennet. And does she know about that other woman you repeatedly called upon? Amelia Lambright, isn’t that her name?
Maria Grazia: Do you have anything to say on these subjects, Mr. Darcy? Others have spoken, but now it is your turn.
Darcy: I have a great deal to say, believe me! These are not simple questions answerable in a few words, however, and yet you tell me there is no time.
Maria Grazia: Yes, that is a problem. You have much more to tell than this brief interview format will allow.
Darcy: Exactly. So it seems we are at an impasse.
Maria Grazia: Wait! I have an idea! Perhaps you should write a book – you know, to have your say, to set the record straight. An autobiography of sorts. Your memoires, your life story in your own words. I’m sure we would all be very interested to read it. It might even become a best-seller! [pause] Mr. Darcy?
Darcy: What? Oh, forgive me; I was deep in thought. A book, you say? An excellent notion, Ms. Spila. That might be just the thing. I have been told that I write a tolerably good letter, so perhaps a book would not be beyond my capabilities. Although I know nothing about publishing, of course.
Maria Grazia: You could always get an experienced writer to assist you – somebody to help you organize what you want to say, write it in such a way that it makes sense and flows nicely, and then see you through the publishing process.
Darcy: Rather like a “ghost writer,” do you mean? I have heard of such a thing being done before.
And the rest, as they say, is history!
Fitzwilliam Darcy in His Own Words is now available at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited (audio by Harry Frost coming this summer). Here’s the back cover blurb:
What was Mr. Darcy’s life like before he met Elizabeth Bennet? – before he stepped onto the Pride and Prejudice stage at the Meryton assembly? More importantly, where is he and what is he doing all the time he’s absent from the page thereafter? And what is his relationship to a woman named Amelia?
With Fitzwilliam Darcy, in His Own Words, the iconic literary hero finally tells his own story, from the traumas of his early life to the consummation of his love for Elizabeth and everything in between.
This is not a variation but a supplement to the original story, chronicled in Darcy’s point of view – a behind-the-scenes look at the things Jane Austen didn’t tell us. As it happens, Darcy’s journey was more tortuous than she let on, his happy ending with Elizabeth in jeopardy at every turn in his struggle between duty and his heart’s desire, between the suitable lady he has promised to marry and the woman he can’t stop thinking about.