A Preview of Wickham’s Diary & Interview with Author Amanda Grange

Wickham's Diary, by Amanda Grange (2011)Please join us for the first stop on Austenesque author Amanda Grange’s blog tour of Wickham’s Diary, a new novella focusing on the early years of Jane Austen’s infamous ne’er-do-well from Pride and Prejudice, George Wickham, due out today from Sourcebooks.


11 July 1784

“Why should I be beneath Fitzwilliam? I am just as handsome as he is; I am just as intelligent, even though he works harder at his books; and I am just as amusing; in fact I dare say I am a great deal more amusing, for Fitzwilliam is so proud he will not take the trouble to entertain other people.

Yet although he is no better than me, when he grows up he will inherit Pemberley, and I will inherit nothing…”

Jane Austen’s ultimate bad boy finally gets his say. Face with an uncertain future―while his friend Fitzwilliam Darcy is set for life―dastardly George Wickham plots and cavorts in this rollicking prequel to Pride and Prejudice. Bestselling author Amanda Grange daringly explores the inner turmoil and secret motivations of the character every Austen fan loves to hate…


LAN: Welcome Amanda. I am so excited that you have joined us today. You are renown in Austenesque fiction for your five (soon to be six) retellings of Jane Austen’s classic novels from the heroes perspective. Wickham’s Diary is your first foray into one of her bad boys. What was your inspiration for this new novella?

AG: Hi, Laurel Ann, thanks for having me!

The inspiration was this passage in Pride and Prejudice:

Mr. Wickham is the son of a very respectable man, who had for many years the management of all the Pemberley estates, and whose good conduct in the discharge of his trust naturally inclined my father to be of service to him; and on George Wickham, who was his godson, his kindness was therefore liberally bestowed. My father supported him at school, and afterwards at Cambridge; – most important assistance, as his own father, always poor from the extravagance of his wife, would have been unable to give him a gentleman’s education.”

I’ve read Pride and Prejudice many times but each time I seem to find something new in it, and on a recent re-reading those words leapt out at me. They conjured up images of Wickham’s home life: a respectable father, an extravagant mother, and a young boy whose best friend was set to inherit a fortune  . . . I sat down and started to write. As I did so, I saw life through Wickham’s eyes: Pemberley, the Darcys and the difference in status between the two families, and I began to see why Wickham turned out so badly. I found it very satisfying to imagine his early life and to work out why, when he was raised in such a similar way, he turned out to be the opposite of Darcy.

LAN: In Pride and Prejudice, George Wickham’s dissipated nature is revealed slowly. Even Lizzy Bennet, a great observer of the “follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies” of character, falls for his charms. What motivates Mr. Wickham and how did you put yourself in his tall, black, shiny Hessian boots?

AG: I’ll answer the second part first, because I have to put myself in the character’s shoes before I can work out what motivates them.

First of all I made notes of everything Austen tells us about Wickham, eg Darcy saying Wickham was the “companion of my youth, the acknowledged favourite of my father, a young man who had scarcely any other dependence than on our patronage, and who had been brought up to expect its exertion”. I thought of the things he does during the course of the novel and the things Austen tells us he does before and after the novel; I thought of the relationships in his life, and I used all this to build up a picture of him from which I could deduce the missing pieces. Then I thought myself into his character in the way an actor thinks themselves into character, and that led me to his motivation, which, to me, boils down to a desire for easy living. He’s been brought up in affluent surroundings, he’s been sent to a good school and a good university, and in all ways he’s been treated like the son of a wealthy man. But in fact he isn’t the son of a wealthy man, and at the end of his privileged childhood he’s expected to go out and work for a living. That doesn’t appeal to George, who is intelligent enough to see that marrying a wealthy wife will bring him everything he wants, and that all he has to do is to exert his ready charm to get it. The fact that, in attempting to elope with Georgiana, he will be revenged on Darcy is the icing on the cake, I think, but Georgiana’s fortune is the real draw. After all, he attempts to run off with other heiresses later on, but he doesn’t attempt to take any further revenge on Darcy.

LAN: You delve into events before the narrative in Pride and Prejudice begins, introducing us to Wickham’s childhood at Pemberley and his mother. Would you say that learning about his early life makes his character more sympathetic for readers or is forewarned, forearmed?

AG: I think that will depend on the reader! I wanted to portray him as a rounded person and he has his tragedies and his difficulties in life like everyone else. But anyone who forgets that a snake is still a snake, no matter how sympathetic he is, had better beware!

LAN: The highly anticipated Henry Tilney’s Diary arrives in the UK on May 31, 2011 and in the US on December 6. This will be your sixth novel based on one of Jane Austen’s heroes. Some would say that you have saved the best hero for last. Can you share anything with us today about Mr. Tilney and other projects you have in the queue?

AG: I adored writing Henry’s Diary. It was probably the most difficult diary to write because I needed to capture Henry’s light-heartedness, but at the same time I need to capture the gloomy and melodramatic flavour of the Gothic novel. Not an easy task!

I decided to start the book when Henry is sixteen because I wanted to write about his family before their mother died, and because I wanted to write more about Henry and his sister. I’ve always loved their relationship, which is such a close and happy one. Here’s a short taster, taken from early on in Henry Tilney’s Diary when Eleanor is thirteen:

“Eleanor opened her book.

‘What is it this time?’ I asked her. ‘Milton, Pope, Prior? A paper from the Spectator, perhaps, or a chapter from Sterne? Or is it a copy of Fordyce’s Sermons?’

‘No,’ she said, laughing. ‘It is something much better. It is A Sicilian Romance.’

‘What? A novel?’ I asked, affecting horror.

‘A novel,’ she agreed.

‘And is it very horrid?’

‘I certainly hope so.’ She thrust it into my hands. ‘You may read to me as I sew. I have to finish hemming this handkerchief. Mama says she will deprive me of novels altogether if I do not pay more attention to my needlework.’

And out of her pocket she drew needle, thread, and the handkerchief.

‘It is a good thing you are still in your schoolgirl’s dresses, for such large pockets will be a thing of the past when you start wearing more fashionable clothes – which will not be too long now, I think. You are very nearly a young lady.’

‘Pooh!’ she said. ‘Now read to me, if you please!’

‘Very well. But I see you have already begun.’

‘Not really. I have only read the first few pages, where the narrator says that he came across the ruins of the  castle Mazzini whilst travelling in Sicily, and that a passing monk happened to lend him an ancient manuscript which related the castle’s history.’

‘A noble beginning. And who lives in this castle? The heroine, I presume?’

‘Yes. Her name is Julia.’

‘And does she have any brothers and sisters?’

‘A brother, Ferdinand, and a sister, Emilia.’

‘I am glad to hear it. Brothers are always useful.”

As for future projects, next up is a short story in the Jane Austen Made Me Do It anthology, which will be out in October. My contribution is the story of Mr. Bennet’s courtship. I’ve always wondered why he married Mrs. Bennet and now I know!

LAN: I understand that you recently visited the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton with fellow Austenesque author Jane Odiwe. Can you share your experience with us?

AG: We had a wonderful day and I thoroughly recommend a visit to the museum for anyone who can get there – details here Jane Austen House Museum. It’s an amazing experience to stand where Jane stood, to look out at her garden and to wander round her house. There were echoes of her everywhere and as I stood by the door looking out onto the street I found myself thinking, “A mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing, and can see nothing that does not answer.”

But there was also another side to the house because it reminded me just how hard her life was in many ways. When I went into the outhouse and saw the washing copper I realized how much I love my washing machine!

The museum is run by lovely, dedicated people and the icing on the cake for me was that they invited me to give a talk there about my heroes’ diaries, so if anyone would like to come along I would love to see you. It’s on June 4 and there are full details on the website.

LAN: Now for a bit of fun. If you could be introduced to any of Jane Austen’s colorful heroes or villains, who would it be, and what penetrating question would you ask them?

AG: I would be introduced to Mr. Darcy before he met Elizabeth, and my penetrating question would be, ‘Will you marry me?’ J

LAN: Thank you for joining us today Amanda. Best of luck with this new adventure with one of Austen’s villains. I am hoping that we will see another novel of the diary of one of Austen’s bad boys – how about Henry Crawford, Frank Churchill or John Willoughby?

AG: I don’t have any plans in that direction at the moment, but you never know, I might just be reading one of those books again and something might jump out and shout, Write me!

Amanda Grange at Chawton 2010


Amanda Grange was born in Yorkshire, in the north of England. She spent her teenage years reading Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer whilst also finding time to study music at Nottingham University. She went on to be a teacher and then managed to fulfill her ambition to become a published writer. Amanda has had eighteen novels published including five (soon to be six!) Jane Austen retellings, which look at events from the heroes’ points of view. Amanda Grange now lives in Cheshire, where she spends half her life in the twenty-first century and the other half in the early nineteenth century.


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Cover image, book description, author interview, author bio courtesy of Sourcebooks © 2011; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2011, Austenprose.com

36 thoughts on “A Preview of Wickham’s Diary & Interview with Author Amanda Grange

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  1. Thank you so much for hosting this amazing giveaway!

    I believe it would be infinitely intriguing to see what diabolical and mischievous plans are hatching in that incredibly handsome head of Mr. Wickham. I would like to know how he justifies marrying frivolous Lydia, even if for the money – what made him think it would be a lasting or beneficial marriage for either of them?

    That being said, I would love to see someone write a novel, from Caroline Bingley’s point of view. She is a peripheral character in the actual novel, but I believe her third-party observations would be a refreshing point of view to venture into. Plus, I would love to read what introspection Caroline Bingley deduces from being fairer and having a more elevated status than the Bennett sisters, and yet losing Darcy to one of them. I believe I’d love to see her take her observations and make some discoveries about her own character and nature – and perhaps strive to change herself, accordingly? That’s what I’d like to read.

    Thank you, again, for your generosity – and this lovely giveaway.

    Email: Enamoredsoul(at)gmail(dot)com
    Twitter: @inluvwithbookz


  2. I think that this book is going to be fascinating! Every time I read Pride & Prejudice, I wonder how it is that Wickham turned out the way he did and what is at the root of his motivations and actions. As far as future diaries, I would love to see one for Willoughby. Just how much of a scoundrel is he and why? I’m even more curious about him!

    Marla @ Starting the Next Chapter


  3. Hi Hira, thanks for dropping in! I think I should make it clear that Wickham’s Diary is a novella which starts when Wickham is 12 and ends when he fails to elope with Georgiana, so we don’t see his thoughts about marrying Lydia because the book doesn’t go that far. It’s a prequel to Pride and Prejudice rather than a retelling like my other diaries.

    I agree with you about Caroline, I think her background is interesting. She’s a member of the nouveau riche and I’m sure that’s why she’s such a snob.

    Hi Marla, my attitudes towards Austen’s characters change – I used to think Colonel Brandon was dull until I wrote his diary – but at the moment I don’t see Willoughby as redeemable, although I’m sure plenty of people disagree!


  4. It’s always lovely to tour Jane Austen’s House and I had a wonderful day out with Amanda! Good Luck with Wickham’s Diary, Mandy!


  5. Thanks for the interview and giveaway! So far I have only read Edmund Bertram’s Diary, but found it very enjoyable. I look forward to reading all the diaries, which are on my ever growing TO READ list.


  6. Thanks for this giveaway. I enjoy novels told through a diary format, and words from Wickham promise to be most entertaining. Also, I would like to add that the cover is great.


  7. I would love to see Ms. Grange do Edward Ferrers! After watching the 2008 S&S, he quickly became one of my favorite Austen heroes. I love how he is unsure of himself, and struggling to do what is right… he feels more like a real young man than the more heroic of Austen’s other leading gentlemen.


  8. I have often wondered about Wickham’s formative years, his early relationship with Darcy, and his seduction of Georgiana… and I know it will be an absolutely thrilling read, as only Ms. Grange can give us. I’d so love to win a copy of Wickham’s Diary!


  9. What probably intrigues me the most is that in his own mind, he isn’t a “bad” boy–and I’m sure that Amanda does an amazing job writing from his own point of view, and how he justifies his own actions. Thanks for doing the giveaway!


  10. I like how we can find out more about why Mr. Wickham is the way he is; what makes him tick, why he’s acted the way he does, etc.


  11. I have always liked reading things from two different point of views, and it would be great to be able to compare Mr. Darcy’s diary with Mr. Wickham’s diary. Great idea Amanda, and I’m sure you did a great job!!


  12. I think it will be interesting to see if I take even the slightest bit of pitty on Wickham. Amanda makes me feel a little sorry for him when she mentions him basically growing up like the son of a gentleman but then having to go to work. That is sad and I can see how Wickham would be mad and jealous.
    Amanda, I love your diaries! I have read several and am now reading Capt. Wentworths, and of course, loving it!
    Thanks for writing wonderful novels!


  13. Hi Fatima, I don’t have any plans to write Willoughby’s Diary at the moment, but if I do, Austenprose will be sure to hear about it!

    Hi Jane, Wasn’t it a good day out? I would really recommend it to anyone who can get there. And of course that’s where my photo was taken.

    I hope you like the other diaries, Amy!

    I so agree with you, Linda, Sourcebooks did a fantastic job of the cover.

    As for Edward Ferrars’s Diary, Elenatintil, I’m tempted by the idea. We shall see!

    Hi Syrie, how great to see you here.

    I’m like you, Joy, I always like to hear both sides of things. Everyone has a different point of view.

    Hi Jakki, I’m glad you’re enjoying Cpt Wentworth’s Diary and I hope you like Wickham’s Diary, too. Thanks for reading them!


  14. I’m sad it won’t take on what Wickham was thinking in marrying Lydia, because I’ve always wondered that. Even without that, though, it sounds like an interesting book. I’d never noticed that line about Wickham having an extravagant mother, so I’m interested to see how that affects things.

    I’d enjoy seeing someone do P&P from the point of view of Mary; she’s so ridiculous and always moralizing, but I think she has hidden depths. I’m always struck by the line at the end of the book about Mary not minding making social calls after Lizzy and Jane leave home, because she’s no longer being compared to them. I think a lot of her awkwardness and unsocial nature is due to being the younger sister of two beautiful, popular women. Who wouldn’t feel a little weird?


  15. I think it would be interesting to see exactly why he eloped with Lydia. Was it a revenge of some kind on Darcy? Or simply for his own pleasure? Thank you for the giveaway! I loved Captain Wentworth’s Diary and Mr. Darcy’s Diary, so it should be interesting to see the diary of a villain.


  16. Love this post! she is one of my favorite authors

    What I like about reading from Wickham’s perspective is to know from jane’s villains their side of the story, what made them be the person they were and so on.


  17. I’m excited about reading Wickham’s diary, because who doesn’t love the story about a bad boy who reforms? Not that I know if he will be reformed, but it will be interesting to see if he is, and if so, which woman’s love will do it.


  18. Oh, to find out what shaped that bad boy, Wickham! I’d love to win a copy of his diary. I agree with one of the other posters that it would be interesting to see if we feel differently about him.

    One character that could have an interesting diary would be Mary, the “plain” Bennett sister. Perhaps her diary could paint a much different picture of her than we see outwardly.


  19. Enjoyed the interview and would love to read more of Wickham’s story. Since Jane Austen is known for never writing scenes that she could have had no personal knowledge of (ie what men do and say when no ladies are present), Amanda’s diaries fill that blank for us.


  20. Thanks for the comment, Mystica, it’s good to see you here!

    Rosie, I agree, Wickham doesn’t see himself as a bad boy, and his point of view has a certain sort of warped logic.

    Hi Emily, Hi Lynn, it’s interesting to speculate about Mary, isn’t it? I wrote a very short extract from Mary’s diary (there isnt a book to go with it, just this short piece). You can find it here http://historicalromanceuk.blogspot.com/2009/04/mary-bennets-diary.html I see her as pompous, but I think a good case could be made for her simply being overshadowed by her prettier sisters and blossoming when they leave home.

    Hi Swordgirl, thanks for dropping by!

    Lieder, I’m so glad you loved the other diaries, I hope you love this one, too.

    Hi Patricia, lovely to see you here!

    Annalynn, a bad boy who reforms? I can see the appeal! But whether Wickham will reform I can’t tell you without a spoiler. Let’s just say we know he goes on to elope with Lydia, so maybe something about leopard and spots springs to mind!

    Hi Shannon, I agree, that’s why I love writing the diaries, to fill in the blanks and also to see how things look from the other side.

    Thanks to everyone who visited the blog and thanks to Laurel Ann for hosting the first step of my blog tour.



  21. Thank you for stopping by and for giving us a small peak at this new book! And for offering the giveaways! :)

    I think I would like to see a book about Willoughby, and how/why he came about being the “blackard” that Col. Brandon described him as. Edward Ferrars would be great too! He’s just so kind, & “oh so affable” – I think it would be nice to see what his thoughts were when he first met Elinor, and how his feelings evolved as he became better acquainted with her.


  22. I just want to get inside the mind of the most notorious bad boy in literary history to find out what makes him tick – and why he went after Lydia.


  23. I’m almost embarrassed to say I’ve never read any of Ms. Grange’s books. I’ve been wanting to, but they’ve been sitting on my “to read” list. This novella sounds very good. I’ve always wondered how Wickham turned out to be such a scoundrel. I’m very excited to read the book and I think it will be a good place to start before reading the others.

    Looking over the list of previously published books, I see one of my favorite male characters missing: Edward Ferrars. I would love to read his diary and find out more about him and his feelings. I’d always felt sad for him being tied to Lucy when he doesn’t love her and she’s so annoying. We know it was difficult for him to balance his feelings and need for secrecy when he left a vist to Lucy to go and visit the Dashwoods at Barton Cottage. I’d like to read what was going through his mind at such a time.


  24. I love Amanda Grange’s Diary stories because I love getting to know what these men are thinking and feeling! I would love to read Edward Ferrars’ diary, to know what he was going through as he was trying to do what was right by Lucy but being in love with Elinor!!


  25. Two Sense & Sensibility-themed diaries:
    Edward Ferrars

    Willoughby’s just such the *charming* bad boy, haha :)

    And Edward … Oh Edward, I’d love to know what was going on in your hear ;)


  26. Hi Christina, I hope you like Mr Bennet Meets His Match.

    Hi Valerie, I don’t have any plans to write about Willoughby at the moment, but never say never . . .

    Tarina, I agree about Wickham being interesting. With his good looks and charm he could have been a hero but unfortunately his character got in the way!

    Ann, I hope you try the diaries and enjoy them.

    As for Edward Ferrars, I agree with you, Joanna, Kelli and Rivka, he’s a good subject for a diary. I don’t have plans to write it at the moment, but maybe some time in the future I will.

    Thanks again to Laurel Ann for hosting the interview, it was a lot of fun.


  27. I have to say that I’ve always been VERY intruiged by Wickham … and wished I knew more about him and his motives. So, this book is right up my alley! :D I have not read any of Amanda’s books. :(

    I agree with the ladies above with wanting to read Ferrars diary … *hint hint*

    But, thank you for the chance to win and good luck with your book, Amanda!


  28. Would love to read about Wickham further, learning more of what he really thought about women or who he fancied himself ending up with-a Lady? a Countess? Please put me down for a chance in the giveaway!

    Would love to read Henry Crawford’s Journal/Diary…Did he really fall in love with Fanny or was it the chase that made her more enticing? What was his sister and he up to when they were in London…could be a fascinating read.



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