Posts Tagged ‘Darcy’

When I have finished reading a novel, I always write down all family  names which occur in it because I would like to ask the author how and  why she or he has chosen these names. There occur 35 family names in Pride and Prejudice, but I can no longer ask Jane Austen those questions. I can only guess what she had in mind. Here is what my guesses, fortified by a little research on the Internet, produced.

The name which struck me first was DeBourgh, because the word Bourgh as in Cherbourgh is the French equivalent of the English Burgh as in Edinburgh. If the name DeBourgh refers to a French ancestry of the husband of the Lady DeBourgh it cannot mean “we are aristocrats from a Bourgh” (Burgh) because in French, they would have been named “DuBourgh”. More likely is the interpretation “we are aristocrats from a French town of Bourgh”, hence “DeBourgh”.

Photo of a fort or castle along a river at Bourg-sur-Gironde in the south of France.

Bourg-sur-Gironde, Image from Wikipedia.

Does a French town named Bourgh, or Bourg exist? Yes, it does! It is “Bourg sur Gironde” on the river Garonne and is located approximately 10 miles North of Bordeaux [1]. Hence my guess is that the town was originally named Bourgh and that the DeBourghs were a noble French family of which some members had moved to England.

Next it occurred to me that the 35 family names could logically be arranged in two groups. Group 1 contains the names of the aristocrats. DeBourgh, Darcy, and Fitzwilliam. Group 2 contains the names of the commoners [2]. I guess that Jane Austen had made those choices deliberately. The only French-sounding names were assigned by her to two of the noble families of the novel! Could Darcy, like DeBourgh, also be of French origin? Then there had to be a town named Arcy in France. Well, there is! The town of Arcy is located WSW of Paris near Versailles. In French, De-Arcy which means from Arcy would have been shortened to D’Arcy.

If the families DeBourgh and D’Arcy (later changed to Darcy) had come from France when and how had the first DeBourgh or Darcy emigrated? I had to go to the Internet to try my luck. I found the following in an article by Sharon Latham. According to her there had existed a French nobleman Richard D’arcy who had joined William the Conqueror’s army, had sailed with William to England, and had fought for him at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Under the existing economic system William became the owner of every square inch of land of England when he became King of England. It was in his interest, and it was common practice at the time, to make nobles his vassals by loaning them tracts of land. Apparently, William bequeathed large tracts of land to Sir Richard D’Arcy, among others in Dorset where Jane Austen located Pemberton. Eventually the most powerful nobles ignored their vassalage and declared that they owned their lands outright.

Today many Darcy’s live in Ireland. It is not fully clear to me why, how, and when they moved there but, in 1320, King Edward II sent Sir John D’Arcy as Lord Justice and General Governor to Ireland.

A second item on the Internet (in “Jane Austen in Vermont”) mentions a connection between the families of DeBourgh and Darcy. In 1329 there was a marriage of a John Darcy 1st Lord of Knaith with Joan De Burgh (the o was apparently dropped) whose father was Richard de Burgh, 2nd Earl of Ulster.

I am sure that there are numerous additional Internet and other studies on DeBourgh and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice done by real experts. I was satisfied that the two studies which I had consulted produced a sufficiently rational explanation for Jane Austin’s choice of two French-sounding names for the two noble families of her novel to set them apart from the commoners. Whether she knew the histories of these families, which existed in England at her time, I leave to the experts to debate.


[1] There is also a French town named “Le Bourg” 50 miles North of Toulouse. The reason why I have chosen Bourg sur Gironde for my guesses is its location in Aquitaine. After Eleanor of Aquitaine died the region was ruled by English Kings for about 300 years.

[2] Mr. Bennett is a “gentleman” but not an earl.

Genealogical Charts of the Characters in Pride and Prejudice, The Republic of Pemberley. Scroll down the page to find the charts.



Dr. Heymann, Image courtesy Rice University

About the author, Dr Dieter Heymann:

Dr. Heymann was born in Germany and received his M.S. and Ph.D. at the University of Amsterdam, Nederland. Today he is Professor Emeritus, Earth, Environmental and Planetary Sciences. Research areas: cosmochemistry, conditions in the early solar system, origin of elements, causes of elemental and isotopic inhomogeneities in the solar nebula. 

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From the desk of Shelley DeWees…An interview with Karen V. Wasylowski, author of Darcy and Fitzwilliam: A Tale of a Gentleman and an Officer

About the book: The first ever Jane Austen BROmance from debut author Karen V. Wasylowski, Darcy and Fitzwilliam: A Tale of a Gentleman and an Officer is a truly original look into the life of Mr. Darcy. Butch Cassidy has the Sundance Kid, Felix has Oscar. Darcy has…Fitzwilliam! Readers of Pride and Prejudice know that Darcy and Fitzwilliam are thick as thieves and each other’s most cherished counsel. But as strong as their bond is, the two are still polar opposites! Darcy is quiet and reserved, while the vivacious Colonel Fitzwilliam is a confirmed bachelor whose military feats have made him a hero. Cousins, best friends, and sparring partners, Darcy and Fitzwilliam have always been there for each other.

To read Shelley de Wees’s refreshing review of this debut novel, click on this link to Jane Austen Today.

1.The problems faced by the characters in Darcy and Fitzwilliam are not quaint trifles by any means. Rather than being consumed by dilemmas of fashion or gossip or health, they’re instead met with huge setbacks and major trials of spirit. They encounter serious issues of social expectations, the solutions of which require lots of thinking and personal toil. What inspired you to write this way, especially in a genre that’s usually overrun with fluffy worlds of happiness and harmony?

First of all, thank you so much for saying that because that was truly what I wanted, to portray these men as real people, not Darcy the perfect romance hero and Fitzwilliam the affable side kick, nor did I want the women to be just caricatures of femininity. Real life is a struggle, very often between men and women, and that is so much more interesting to me than ball gowns and Almacks. There is a saying that life is what happens while we are busy making other plans and that’s the truth. Love and family can bring ecstasy and make you crazy, and sometimes all at once.

2. I really admired the way Lady Catherine De Bourgh was portrayed. Witty and stubborn yet refreshingly aware of her surroundings, your representation of her was one of the more ambitious ones in Austenesque literature. What motivated you to develop her so fully?

I loved writing Lady Catherine. I could say outrageous things that made no sense. As head of the family she feels she has the right, no the obligation, to infuriate these two men and interfere in their lives because, in her eyes, they are still horrid boys. She means well, she really does, and she’s the voice of the older generation that never can quite come to terms with the younger one. In my head Judy Dench starred as Lady Catherine, looking outraged at Fitzwilliam’s filthy boots or explaining procreation to Lizzy. Judy Dench was brilliant in my head.

3. When you’re not writing or volunteering, how else do you spend your time? Do you have any other hobbies?

No, not really. We live in Florida and that’s a pretty laid back lifestyle. Eating out is a hobby here, sleeping late. I love writing but I’m not disciplined in the least and I don’t feel much confidence yet. At any moment I think I’ll never create another scene or another word and that is scary, but exhilarating.

4. Tell us about the process you engage in when you sit down to write. Do you need complete silence, or do you write in the bedroom while throwing wild parties in the livingroom? Do you stick to a schedule? Do you prefer to write barefoot? Any other weirdness you’d like to share for the sake of our fascination?

Most of the time I need silence; anything on the television in the family room will bother me and I sit at my desk and marvel at the amount of female screaming there is on television – very disturbing on many levels. Other times a car could backfire in the family room and I wouldn’t hear it. There is no rhyme or reason. I have no schedule at all, spend a great deal of time ‘getting ready’ which means I play computer chess, and solitaire, I check Facebook, answer e-mails, go into the chat rooms, read the fan fiction sites, see if anyone left a nice compliment for one of my stories there, etc. After about an hour of this I feel ready to start. And then the phone rings – I get angry, grumble that I’m being disturbed, and the whole process begins again. It’s amazing I finished a book at all.

5. Are you working on anything new? Any more beguiling tales of love and intrigue we should know about?

Well, to tell you the truth, I have two books started. One covers the time before Darcy and Fitzwilliam, centering on Lizzy and Darcy and how they coalesce into a single unit as it were. I imagine it was quite a process for him to really understand her family and for her to adjust to his status. Their differences were vast, and I don’t think we, two hundred years later, can truly appreciate how difficult their adjustment must have been. I also want to show the effects of the war on Fitzwilliam and how years of warfare had attacked his spirit, causing his slide into the sort of debauched lifestyle he was living at the beginning of Darcy and Fitzwilliam.

The second book then is the period after Darcy and Fitzwilliam. It involves their children and all the blessings and madness that go with parenthood and getting older. Only heaven knows if either book will see the light of day but it is fun to be with my boys again. I told my husband, “You know it’s like I know what goes on in their heads.” He looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Karen, you are their heads.” I had forgotten. They are that real to me.

6. Finally, is there anything else you’d like to say?

I’d like to thank Deb Werksman and Sourcebooks Landmark for publishing Darcy and Fitzwilliam. No agent would even consider me – I wasn’t a famous name, nor a celebrity. So, I defied all logic and sent my manuscript directly into the publisher who gave me my chance. It proves that if you really love what you are doing and if you have faith in it, anything is possible. Never give up.

Karen Wasylowski

About the author Karen V. Wasylowski: Karen is a retired accountant and CPA. This is her first novel. She and her husband spend much of their free time volunteering with charitable organizations in their community. Karen and her husband live in Bradenton, Florida.

About the interviewer Shelley de Wees: This is Shelley de Wees’s first interview for this blog. She has written five reviews for me – three for Jane Austen’s World and two for my other blog, Jane Austen Today. Shelley also oversees her own blog, The Uprising, which features vegan recipes. Yum. She lives in the northern U.S. I shiver just thinking about the cold at this time of year.

Image of the author taken from My Jane Austen Book Club.

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