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Jane Austen & Co. News

Creative Writing Grand Prize Winner: "Dearest Lady Russell"

Congratulations to Leslie Hawley, winner of our "Crafting with Jane Austen" creative writing contest. Leslie is a long-time lover of Jane Austen who enjoys continually learning about the Regency period and sharing her passion for all things Jane related.

Click here to learn how to enter our next creative writing contest.

"Dearest Lady Russell"


20 October 1814

My dearest Lady Russell,

Oh! What joy I had opening your parcel! Mary and I so longed to view the latest embroidery

patterns in the Lady’s Magazine. The innovative designs are always an inspiration and

opportunity to broaden the scope of my work. You are so thoughtful to think of me while I am

away from Kellynch. Fortunately, I thought to pack the white muslin shawl you so graciously

presented me last Christmas in my workbag, so I have a little fancy-work to delight me along

with helping Mary mend shirts. The Miss Musgroves recently returned from a fashionable school

in Exeter, where they acquired so many accomplishments and have kindly shared their

knowledge of patterns featured in La Belle Assemblée, as well as new approaches for working a


Mary has generously offered suggestions for enhancing my whitework, but alas has been too ill

to attempt any work of her own. She has lately been troubled because little Charles fell from a

tree. The boy is healing nicely, and I am keeping him company in the evenings while she dines at

the mansion-house with the family. It has been excessively diverting to work on the satin

stitches from the elegant sprig pattern featured in the first few pages of the magazine while

sitting with little Charles—they demand such precision! I have been considering ways to modify

the design to suit my taste, as I do so enjoy the challenge of deciding how to add my own

personal alterations.

At this last word, Anne put down her quill to reflect on the last few days at Uppercross and the refuge

her work provided from facing her own alterations. The small, delicate stitches she adorned to the fine,

handwoven Indian muslin had been a welcome diversion for her mind while the Miss Musgroves

gleefully discussed their evenings at the mansion-house with Captain Wentworth. It pierced her soul to

think Captain Wentworth found her so altered. Was she not like the shawl she carefully trimmed each

day? Altered by time and little adornments, but still the same constant, Anne underneath everything.

She sighed. Time had changed her physically, but if he knew her, he would understand her heart

remained faithful. Regardless, it was foolish to think any more of him because he would visit his brother

soon and be out of her life forever. She picked up the quill and continued her letter.

Once little Charles has healed, I feel it will be time for me to take my leave for Bath. You will

hardly recognize the shawl with the progress I have made on my trimming when you come for

the season. I remember you had been planning to start a new fire screen. Did you approve of the

oak leaf and flower design? Would it not look lovely with the style of your drawing room? If you

wish, I can cut out the pattern and bring it with me to Bath.



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