As you may have read in a previous blog, I made the assumption that the action taking place in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ begins just before Michaelmas (29th September) in the year 1800, two years before ‘the restoration of peace’ – the Treaty of Amiens signed in March 1802 – referenced in the book’s final chapter. On this basis, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy were married in November 1801. Book One of my ‘The Formidable Mrs Elizabeth Darcy’ (‘TFMED’) series begins in October 1802, ten months on from Elizabeth’s marriage to Darcy. As the action in the three books is meshed with real-life events and characters, I was obliged to develop a Timeline in which I could place the key events in both ‘P&P’ and ‘TFMED’ and interlace them with the historical events referenced in my story. Without a Timeline it’s oh-so-easy to misplace things.
The first part of my Timeline is shown below, detailing the events leading up to the start of P&P. The entries in bold are real events, others fictional. I’ve also done my best to cite the references in ‘P&P’ that led me to pick those dates (I’ll admit to some guessing, especially regarding the day and month of births and deaths). I’ve also allocated a number of new forenames.
12th May: Marriage of Mr George Darcy and Lady Anne Fitzwilliam.
4th May: Fitzwilliam Darcy born (‘from eight to eight and twenty’ i.e. he was 28 when he married Elizabeth).
30th September: George Wickham born (‘a young man of very nearly the same age with himself (Darcy)).
19th April: American War of Independence begins.
13th June: Marriage of Mr William Bennet and Miss Francis Gardiner (‘the experience of three and twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character’).
29th September: Mrs Reynolds hired to serve in Pemberley (‘I have known him (Darcy) since he was four years old’).
27th June: Charles Bingley born (‘Mr Bingley had not been of age two years, when he was tempted by accidental recommendation to look at Netherfield House’. As he did this in September 1800, q.e.d. he was 22 at the time, 23 when he married Jane).
20th November: Jane Bennet born (‘She is almost three and twenty!’).
27th September: Elizabeth Bennet born: (‘I am not one and twenty’).
14th January: Mary Bennet born (Okay … it’s a guess but we do know she’s the middle daughter and, hence, born sometime between Elizabeth’s 20 years and Kitty’s 17 years).
2nd April: Catherine ‘Kitty’ Bennet born (‘for I am two years older’ (than Lydia)).
3rd September: Treaty of Paris signed, ending the American War of Independence.
5th June: Lydia Bennet born (’she will, at sixteen, be the most determined flirt …’ and ‘she was only sixteen last June’).
12th October: Georgiana Darcy born (‘She was but fifteen …’ and ‘My sister, who is more than ten years my junior …’ Actually, if Darcy were accurate, she’d be twelve years his junior).
22nd May: The first meeting of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade.
30th April: George Washington becomes President of the United States.
14th July: Storming of the Bastille.
26th August: The French Assembly publishes ‘The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen’.
27th August: Darcy attends Cambridge University, studying mathematics under Thomas Postlethwaite. As Darcy’s father put Wickham thru Cambridge, it follows he’d have done the same for Darcy. Darcy, being a very bright chap, goes up to university at the age of 17.
13th March: Thomas Paine’s ‘The Rights of Man’ published. 14th April: William Wilberforce introduces the first parliamentary bill to abolish the slave trade.
14th October: Theodore Wolfe Tone establishes The Society of United Irishmen.
1st February: France declares war on England.
6th June: Darcy graduates from Cambridge (I have him graduating at the age of 20).
21st July: Emperor Louis XVI executed.
14th August: Death of Lady Anne Darcy (No reference to this in P&P, so I’ve had her predeceasing her husband).
22nd April: Death of George Darcy (father of Fitzwilliam Darcy): (‘since the death of Darcy’s father, five years before’). I think the Narrator was a little in error here, Darcy’s father having died six years before.
7th May: The Habeas Corpus Suspension Act passed by Parliament.
16th June: Death of Peter Wickham (father of George Wickham): (‘his (Wickham’s) own father did not long survive mine’).
22nd December: George Wickham refuses the living granted in George Darcy’s will and instead accepts £3,000 as compensation (‘within half a year of these events …’).
4th January: William Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, Earl Fitzwilliam arrives in Dublin as the new Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He is accompanied by his 21-year-old cousin, Fitzwilliam Darcy (this is a plot device of TFMED).
25th March: Earl Fitzwilliam is recalled.
26th April: Darcy, ordered to remain in Ireland after Earl Fitzwilliam’s recall, forms the Intelligence Bureau (this is a plot device of TFMED).
18th October: Thomas Bingley (Charles Bingley’s father) dies (‘his father, who had intended to purchase an estate, but did not live to do it’). A pure guess but I needed him to die after 1792 (you’ll have to read THFMED to find out why!).
17th November: Tsar Paul I assumes the Russian throne.
4th March: John Adams becomes President of the United States.
16th April: Sailors of the Royal Navy’s Channel Fleet mutiny at Spithead (an anchorage near Portsmouth).
12th May: Sailors of the Royal Navy mutiny at the Nore (an anchorage in the Thames Estuary).
30th May: Darcy’s success as Principal of the Intelligence Bureau results in its responsibilities being extended such that it is ‘empowered to thwart, baffle and prevent all malicious and seditious schemes designed to disturb the peace and tranquility of His Majesty, King George III, or his subjects in any and all parts of his realm’ (this is a plot device of TFMED).
20th September: George Wickham demands the living he once refused (‘For about three years I heard little of him …’).
12th May: The Combination Act outlawing trade unions is given Royal assent.
18th May: Sir Henry Sirr and Fitzwilliam Darcy capture the leader of the Irish rebels, Lord Edward Fitzgerald.
24th May: Ireland rises in rebellion.
1st-3rd August: French navy destroyed by Nelson in the Battle of the Nile.
24th September: Irish rebellion ends.
1st October: Darcy dismissed as Principal of the Intelligence Bureau and ordered back to England in disgrace by Prime Minister Pitt (this is a plot device of TFMED).
9th November: Napoleon stages a coup d’état and becomes ‘First Consul’ of France.
3rd July: George Wickham takes Georgiana Darcy to Ramsgate (‘last summer he was again most painfully obtruded on my notice’).