Guest Post: Mary Lydon Simonsen on Research and Travel

Welcome to today’s guest post from author Mary Lydon Simonsen, author of The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy. Following the guest post, be sure to check out the giveaway for US/Canada residents.

Let’s give Mary a warm welcome!

Thank you for inviting me to post on your blog.

You have asked me to talk about my research in general and if I have toured England as part of doing my research for The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy.

I have been reading non-fiction books on the Regency and Georgian Eras for probably thirty years. I just had no idea that at the time I was reading them that I was researching future novels. Like most people, I was drawn to the tangibles of that time, especially the gorgeous clothes, hairstyles, literature, architecture, romanticized view of traveling in elegant carriages, etc., but I was also attracted to the intangibles, such as the manners and speech of people who appear in Jane Austen’s books.

Having read so much about the era, I know how constrained the lives of most women were. From the moment of their birth, they were under the control of their fathers or a male guardian, then their husbands, or if they never married, possibly their brothers or another male relation. But Elizabeth Bennet is different. She has spunk, and I like spunk. After all, she turned down an offer of marriage from Mr. Darcy, one of England’s elite and someone who would have made her financially secure for the rest of her life. That took courage.

On behalf of the era’s repressed females, in The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, I stormed the fortress and liberated two ladies in Miss Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: Anne de Bourgh and Georgiana Darcy. In this story, Anne is no longer the voiceless daughter of Lady Catherine, but a woman who sees how her cousin, Fitzwilliam Darcy, suffers as a result of failing to capture the heart of the woman he loves, and she sets out to change that. On the way, she enlists Georgiana Darcy, who will shortly make her debut in society, and a flower ready to blossom. I wanted to open up Georgiana’s character, and so I wrote about a typical teenager: chatty, nosy, teasing, and curious, but someone who cares deeply about her brother.

As far as travel is concerned, I have been to England twice. During my first visit, I was more interested in the Tudors, and so I visited Hampton Court, the Tower of London, Warwick Castle, etc. On my second visit, I traveled with my two teenage daughters, who were not jumping up and down at the idea of visiting Chawton Cottage, Austen’s last home before moving to Winchester. I did, however, get to Bath and visited all the public rooms, an experience that was very helpful when I wrote Anne Elliot, A New Beginning.  I also drove through Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, and Derbyshire doing drive-by research. Although I did not stop at any Austen locales (except Winchester Cathedral), the countryside left an indelible impression on me and proved invaluable when I started to write Austen re-imaginings.

Thanks Mary for sharing your research and travel experiences with us.

About the Author:

Mary Lydon Simonsen’s first book, Searching for Pemberley, was acclaimed by Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and RT Book Reviews. She is well loved and widely followed on all the Jane Austen fanfic sites, with tens of thousands of hits and hundreds of reviews whenever she posts. She lives in Peoria, Arizona where she is working on her next Jane Austen novel. For more information, please visit http://marysimonsenfanfiction.blogspot.com/ and http://www.austenauthors.com/, where she regularly contributes.

Dear readers, Sourcebooks is offering 2 copies of A Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen for 2 U.S. or Canadian readers.

To Enter:

1.  Leave a comment on this post about one of your favorite travel spots

2.  For a second entry, Tweet, Facebook, etc. the giveaway and leave a link and comment on this post.

Deadline:  January 12, 2011, at 11:59 PM EST

For another chance to win this book, visit Austen Authors.


  1. Thanks everyone for joining me on my blog tour. Good luck in the giveaway.

  2. I tweeted also!

  3. One of my favorite days last year was spent in Bath, it ended with floating in the top pool at the new Thermal Spa, absolutely loved the place

  4. I love to tour old houses, so one of the favorite places that I have been is Natchez. I wish that I could go to England and Scotland.
    I tweeted. http://twitter.com/#!/mbreakfield/statuses/24580578309312512

  5. My favorite travel destination is Stockholm, Sweden. Part of my honeymoon was spent there and we plan to return soon!

  6. This was great especially because I’m reading this one right now!

  7. Hi Vic, Thank you for stopping by. I was mentioning you to Tony the other date as I have a post on Austen Authors about Frost Fairs on the Thames coming up, and I was able to use your excellent site (Jane Austen’s World) as one of my sources. Thanks. Mary

  8. Thanks for a wonderful post, Mary. I feel that I know so much more about you and your work! Vic

  9. Hi Chelsea, Margay, and Iliana, Thank you for stopping by and commenting. 🙂 Mary

  10. My first experience in England I did get a chance to go to Bath and it was also the first time I read a Jane Austen book, Northanger Abbey. It was perfect. Visiting the places she wrote about made the trip all the more memorable for me.

    Really enjoyed Mary’s guest post!

  11. I don’t travel a lot, but there’s a beach up in Maine I love to go to called Ogunquit.

    Tweeted: http://twitter.com/Margay/status/22733779558735873


  12. Chelsea B. says

    I love to travel to the beach! Though I would love to go someplace else, like Scotland, but I know that is pretty far fetched! 🙂

  13. Hi Anna, Kathy, Linda and Karen. Thank you for reading my post.

    Serena, I think I understand why so many people switch from Blogger to WordPress. Inserting more than 2 pictures in a post is a nightmare on Blogger as the pictures jump all over the place. My only problem with wordpress is that you can’t delete your comment. There are times when I have had serious typos, but I can’t do anything about it other than proofread the darn thing before I hit “submit.” 🙂

    • Mary, I think you can edit those kinds of comments in wordpress because Anna and I have both done that before. Just go into your dashboard and find the comment and edit, or go to the post where the comment is and hit “edit this.”

  14. i would love to visit London one day…thanks for the chance to read this fabulous novel 🙂

  15. My daughter and I have been planning a trip to England and Wales for 3 or 4 years, even went so far as getting a passport. Haven’t made it yet, but maybe this year. I hope, hope.

  16. It sounds like the author deserves another trip to England to visit all things Austen.

  17. No need to enter me, as I have the book and can’t wait to read it.

    I would love to visit England and the places mentioned in Austen’s novels (and of course, Chawton Cottage). My daughter is a budding Austenite, and after the project she did a few months ago, said she’d love to someday take the trip with me. No dressing up in Regency costume at those festivals, though. She was adamant about that!

  18. Serena, Thank you for having me, and thanks for doing such a terrific job with the links and photos. I’m going to have to figure out how to do that with the pictures. Mary

    • Thanks for offering a guest post. Adding links to pictures should be easy if you have wordpress, but if you have blogger, you have to insert the photo first, then highlight it and add the link.