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.
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"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
Yours very affectionately,