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Jane Austen & Co. News

High School Creative Writing Winner: "Lydia Wickham's Letter"

Congratulations to the winner of our High School creative writing contest, Margaret Chaney! Margaret's short piece "Lydia Wickham's Letter" delighted our judges!

Margaret lives in sunny Southern California, and loves all things Jane Austen! As a hobby, she reenact civilian life from the American Revolution through World War II. Her other interests include English and Scottish country dance, Western line dance, classical guitar, baking, and historical costuming. She sews a growing collection of historical garments from the 18th century, Regency, Civil War, and Bustle eras, and 1940’s-50’s. She can often be seen watching A&E’s Pride and Prejudice while sewing on my vintage Singer machine.

Click here to learn how you can enter our next creative writing contest!

"Lydia Wickham's Letter"

My dearest Lizzy,

Mr. Wickham and I arrived in safety at Newcastle. It is so dreadfully dull

here. I have never seen such wretchedly plain and ill-favored people! The few

shops are so very wanting in what is fashionable for a high society lady. They

barely have decent ribbons or plumes for my bonnets. And, alas, our cottage is not

nearly fancy enough for an officer and his bride. We have but one servant, Lucy,

and she is incompetent at hairdressing; why, but yesterday I had to wear a day cap,

for that girl had quite made shambles of my lovely curls! Yet, worst of all, the

assembly room dance hall is as quiet as the grave. It would seem that balls and

parties are altogether scare here. Oh, Lizzy! How I wish I could frolic to a jig or

quadrille! It is so frightfully unfair that we should have been sent away from

Brighton; I much preferred it. Mr. Wickham must be made a captain or colonel, for

I shall not be able to bear it if I cannot purchase a decent gown soon.

Lizzy! Since writing the above I received some clothes from my aunt, Mrs.

Gardiner. How delighted I am! They are not the most fashionable, but are such an

improvement on my current wardrobe.

The parcels arrived this morning. I rushed up to my bedchamber half-

dressed. In only my chemise, I quickly arranged my hair and donned my stays. The

maid assisted, but she was very clumsy indeed and tangled the ties. Within the first

package, I found a pair of white silk stockings and blue shoes! I secured the

stockings with some green silk ribbon which I had been saving. The shoes pinch

somewhat, but should stretch. They must be the right size, for I believe my cousin

tried them for me. I placed a muslin petticoat over my shift and stays, and searched

in another bundle ‘til I found a new dress. Oh! It is a lovely pale pink linen with

white braided trim and a most elegant train. It will do very nicely for making me a

fashionable bride! I buttoned the dress, placed a beautiful lace fichu at my neck,

and clasped a gold chain about my throat. I don’t much care for the parasol my

aunt sent, but I am very pleased to at last have a scarlet cape like Mrs. Foster! My

new bonnet has lovely ribbons, and the prettiest flowers and bright feathers. And

you will never guess what else was sent, a hairpiece! Now I shall have fine tresses

despite that blundering maid! At once, I fastened the bonnet and cape to prance

round the village square. I am once again wearing London fashion. How the village

girls will envy me!

Well, I must away. Oh, how is everyone at Longbourn? Give my love to

Mama and Kitty. I may not write often, being a married woman leaves me time for

little else.

Yours very affectionately,

Lydia Wickham


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