“I am proud to say that I have a very good eye at an Adultress,”
Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra on 12 May 1801
Did you hear the rumor that Fitzwilliam Darcy, one of Austen’s most principled and honorable heroes, was once involved in an outrageous scandal during his lifetime? Well, not actually Austen’s fictitious character himself, but the man that one scholar believes was the inspiration for Austen’s beloved character, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley in Derbyshire. Dr. Susan Law asserts that Austen’s wildly popular hero was based on the intense, charming and somewhat controversial, 1st Earl of Morley, John Parker.
|Dr. Susan Law|
Dr. Susan Law, who has spent a lot of time during recent years investigating scandals from long ago throughout England, says that Jane Austen spent time at the Earl's home in Saltram House in Plymouth, Devon, during a period when she wrote “Pride and Prejudice,” in the early 1800s. The Earl's second wife, Francis, was also known to be a very close friend of Jane Austen.
|Earl of Morley, John Parker and Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy |
(images courtesy of National Portrait gallery and BBC)
However, before he became acquainted with Francis, the brooding and handsome, 1st Earl of Morley, John Parker, was embroiled in a sordid sex scandal that led to a divorce for his first marriage. The Earl of Morley sued his first wife, Lady Augusta Fane, for adultery after she eloped with a family friend, after finding out he had three illegitimate sons by his married mistress, Dr. Law’s book reveals.
Saltram House, where Austen stayed when
she wrote parts of Pride & Prejudice
His divorce became widely circulated amongst the press and led to a media frenzy, making it likely that Jane Austen was well aware of the scandal. "The original adultery is generally believed to have been behind the adultery plot in Mansfield Park,” claims Dr. Law, a journalist and historian, who spent five years researching her book, Through the Keyhole: Sex, Scandal and the Secret Life of the Country House, which involved the process of unearthing old letters, diaries and newspapers, including many hours spent in archives reading material on John Parker, the 1st Earl of Morley.
John Parker, 1st Earl of Morley Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, BBC
"It is clear that Jane Austen had very close links with the family. She sent Frances one of the first editions of Emma - when she only had 12 printed, states Susan Law. It is also known that Jane Austen's brother, Henry, was also a university friend of the Earl of Morley. They were contemporaries and he then become a banker to his regiment and later the domestic chaplain to the Earl of Morley's family. Even though we can’t say with 100% certainty that Ms. Austen based Mr. Darcy’s character on the 1st Earl of Morley, isn’t it fun imagining the possibilities?
Yet, Jane Austen herself was no stranger to scandal; after all, her lifetime took place during an era that became known as the Age of Scandal. Even as clergymen were preaching about the virtues of fidelity and morality, citizens of the Regency era were well aware that adulterous relationships were taking place throughout the country, including amongst the royals, the peers and peeresses of the realm, admirals as famous as Lord Nelson himself, society hostesses, and politicians. Was it any wonder that even Parliament became concerned about these behaviors and passed several laws in an attempt to curtail the amount of scandals erupting throughout England?
From the very first volume of The Coming Of Age Of Elizabeth Bennet, Darcy and Elizabeth find themselves facing the threat of a looming scandal. Due to both of their hasty actions, rumors are swirling throughout the ton regarding both of them, leaving them to speculate about what can be done to maintain both of their reputations? However, once it becomes clear that a scandal may be inevitable, they find themselves forced to make a life-altering decision. What becomes of their young lives once this decision is made provides the backdrop for this coming-of-age story, told through four poignant volumes filled with delicious tension, youthful indiscretions and a love story that will leave any Pride and Prejudice fan longing for more… Can the threat of a scandal lead anyone to everlasting happiness?
I want to say thank you to everyone who followed Caitlin Williams’ first blog tour! It’s been amazing reading each and every comment from her readers and it’s been a thrill for me to support such a mesmerizing and romantic story that takes us back to Darcy and Elizabeth’s earlier years. However, today, I also wanted to wish Caitlin Williams a very “Happy Birthday” and encourage her to relax and savor the hard work and achievement that she’s been part of for the last several months. When she said “Yes” to a blog tour, I had no idea I would have the honor of working with such a gracious, kind and humble person. Whatever is coming your way in the future, I will ardently support and admire you! With fond regards, Claudine
Fullerton, Susannah, Jane Austen and Adultery
“The Coming Of Age Of Elizabeth Bennet”
About the Book
The very worst has happened. Mr Bennet has died, leaving his wife and five young daughters bereft. The family estate, Longbourn, is now lost, entailed away and fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Bennet is to go two hundred miles away to live with strangers. George Darcy, repaying a debt of gratitude, has offered to take her to Pemberley, to live under the mantle of his care and be raised alongside his own daughter, Georgiana.
But on the day she is to leave Longbourn forever, young Elizabeth, grieving and confused, runs off into the Hertfordshire countryside. Fitzwilliam Darcy gives chase, telling his father he will have her back in an hour or two. Luck and fate, however, are not on his side and capturing Elizabeth Bennet turns out not only to be more difficult than he could ever have imagined, but events conspire to turn her little adventure into his worst nightmare.
The prideful man and the girl prejudiced against him, meet much earlier in this rethinking of Jane Austen’s masterpiece. Elizabeth grows up under the ever-watchful eye of Mr Darcy, from fifteen to twenty-one. She errs and falters, there are stumbles and trips, but could this ‘disobedient little hellion’ one day become mistress of Pemberley and the keeper of his heart?
Meet the Author
Caitlin Williams lives in Kent, England, with her family. She fell in love with all things Regency as a teenager, but particularly admires the work of Jane Austen and the way she masterfully combines humour and romance, while weaving them through such wonderful stories and characters.
Pride and Prejudice is Caitlin’s favourite novel and she finds Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet so deliciously entertaining that she likes to borrow them from Ms Austen and enjoys the challenge of putting them in different places and situations.
Her debut novel, Ardently, was written as a hobby, usually with her laptop balanced on the kitchen worktop, typing with one hand, a glass of wine in the other, while she also attempted to cook dinner and keep her children from killing each other. The success of Ardently was as much a surprise to her, as it was to anyone else, and she has been thrilled and genuinely thankful for the positive responses and reviews it generated.
Her second novel, The Coming of Age of Elizabeth Bennet, is a portrait of a much younger Elizabeth, who is thrown into an extraordinary set of circumstances due to the premature death of Mr Bennet, and she hopes you all enjoy it very much.
June 13/ My Jane Austen Book Club/Launch Post/“Happy Birthday Fanny Burney & The Coming Of Age Of Elizabeth Bennet” & Giveaway
June 14/ So Little Time... / Book Excerpt & Giveaway
June 15/ Just Jane 1813/An Exclusive Interview with Caitlin Williams
June 16/ Pemberley to Milton/Book Review & Giveaway
June 17/ Margie's Must Reads/ Book Excerpt & Giveaway
June 18/ The Calico Critic/Book Review & Giveaway
June 19/ Babblings of a Bookworm/“The Education of a Young Lady” Guest Post & Giveaway
June 20/ Half Agony, Half Hope/Book Review
June 21/ More Agreeably Engaged/ Book Review & Giveaway
June 22/ My Kids Led Me Back to Pride and Prejudice /Book Excerpt & Giveaway
June 23/ Liz's Reading Life / “A Nod and A Wink to Austen” Guest Post & Giveaway
June 24/ Diary of an Eccentric/Book Review
June 25/ Laughing With Lizzie/ “The Young Master” Guest Post & Giveaway
June 26/ A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life/ “A Most Scandalous” Guest Post
Written content of this post copyright © Caitlin Williams, 2016.