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Friday, 21 November 2014

Off To Gretna Green!

A Clandestine Interview.
This week I've written a guest post for the British Newspaper Archive blog on a true-life thrilling 19th century elopement - that of Mr Giles, a penniless comedian, and Augusta Nicholson, a rich heiress. Elopements were standard newspaper fodder in Jane Austen's day. In Scotland, it was legal for people as young as sixteen to marry without their parents' consent. The village of Gretna Green, just over the Scottish border, was easily accessible and it was famous for runaway marriages. In Pride and Prejudice, George Wickham famously runs off with flighty Lydia Bennet after an earlier unsuccessful attempt to elope with Mr Darcy's sister
News reaches Longbourn that Lydia and Wickham have been found.
Georgiana. When Lydia first disappears with Wickham, she leaves a note to say that they are going to Gretna Green. The Bennet family are upset but philosophical about Lydia’s ‘imprudent’ marriage, but when news reaches them that the runaways have not gone to Gretna, her parents ‘believe the worst'. Darcy proves that he really loves Elizabeth Bennet when he goes to London to ensure that her sister Lydia marries Wickham.
Illustrations by Hugh Thomson.

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