The two plays of the Christmas at Pemberley series, both penned by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, are imagined sequels to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, picking up approximately two years after the novel ends. The plots of Miss Bennet and The Wickhams take place at the same time! The Wickhams depicts the events happening downstairs in the servants’ quarters, while the events of Miss Bennet take place upstairs in the main house.
Wickham & Darcy: A Turbulent Past
From the beginning of Pride & Prejudice, Fitzwilliam Darcy and George Wickham do NOT get along. In Miss Bennet he is not present but referred to with disdain, and in The Wickhams he is an unwelcome guest, to say the least. Explore the events that divided these boyhood friends:
- George Wickham grew up at Pemberley, the home of the Darcys, as the son of the steward who served Fitzwilliam Darcy’s father. The families were close; Darcy’s father was Wickham’s godfather, and the two were boyhood friends. Darcy’s father felt attached to Wickham, even including him in his will. Wickham was to receive a parsonage and steady income.
- After the elder Mr. Darcy’s death, Wickham refuses his inheritance and demands a large sum of money instead! Darcy obliges, Wickham squanders the money, and then asks for his original inheritance back. Knowing of Wickham’s debts and gambling habits, Darcy refuses.
- Wickham schemes to get more money from the Darcy family by courting Darcy’s sister, Georgiana, convincing the 15-year-old to elope with him. Darcy discovers the plot and stops them just in time. From this point on, Darcy’s despise for Wickham is irreversible.
- Saddled with debt and without a source of income, Wickham has joined the army. He and Darcy arrive in Meryton and meet the Bennet family around the same time. While Darcy silently judges the entire Bennet family, Wickham ingratiates himself with them.
- Wickham continues to grow deeper in debt. To escape his creditors he plots to run away, taking the youngest Bennet sister, Lydia, with him, effectively ruining the honor of her and her entire family (as they were not married).
- Darcy to the rescue again! Though Lydia cannot (and does not want to) be detached from Wickham, marrying him would uphold her and her family’s respectable reputation. After searching and finding the couple in London, Darcy secretly forces Wickham into marriage, paying Wickham’s debts and commission, and covering the wedding expenses.
- Wickham and Lydia head for Newcastle for Wickham’s new post in the army, and Darcy hopes to never see him again (…again).
Lydia & Wickham: A Series of Unfortunate Events
In Pride & Prejudice, Lydia Wickham (the youngest Bennet sister) narrowly escapes scandal in her romance with George Wickham. While Wickham himself is not present in Miss Bennet, the play reveals more information about his and Lydia’s life together as a married couple. Here’s the step-by-step of what we know about Lydia and Wickham’s romance and marriage:
In Pride & Prejudice:
When the eligible Charles Bingley comes to town and the rest of the Bennet sisters fly into a tizzy, Lydia devotes her time to conversing with the officers passing through, like George Wickham, who has a long-standing feud with Mr. Darcy (see above).
Mrs. Bennet allows Lydia to travel to Brighton with Colonel and Mrs. Forster. The Colonel leads the officers, including Wickham, who will also be on the journey.
Lydia and Wickham run off together, Lydia with the belief that Wickham intends to marry her, and Wickham to escape his gambling debts (without any apparent intention to wed).
Darcy finds Lydia and Wickham and offers to bring Lydia home to avoid a scandal. Lydia refuses, so Darcy secretly pays Wickham’s debts and acquires a commission for Wickham in a northern regiment, in exchange for Wickham marrying Lydia, saving the Bennet family from disgrace.
Lydia and Wickham move to Newcastle with his regiment and continue to spend recklessly, while Lydia remains blissfully unaware of Darcy’s role in her wedding.
In Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley:
Lydia visits Pemberley at Christmastime without Wickham, who is not welcome due to his past with Darcy.
Mary Bennet reveals that Lydia and Wickham have spent much time apart this past year, although Lydia denies that it has any impact on their love.
Jane and Lizzy speculate on Wickham’s behavior. Lizzy believes he is adulterous.
Lydia flirts with Darcy’s cousin Arthur de Bourgh, even going so far as to send him a note of her affection, though everyone quickly figures out that Arthur and Mary are in love.
Lydia doubles down on her love for Wickham, but, when expectant mother Jane asks Lydia to come live with her once she gives birth, Lydia gladly accepts.
Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley
Many subscribers will remember the first in the Christmas at Pemberley series, Miss Bennet, had its world premiere at Northlight in 2016. In case you missed it (or if memory fails you), here’s a quick recap of what happened in the last installment:
The Bennet sisters gather at Pemberley, the home of Elizabeth (Lizzy) and Darcy of Pride & Prejudice fame, for Christmas. After the marriages of Bennet sisters Jane, Lizzy, and Lydia, only Mary and Kitty remain single. Mary, a bit of a recluse who is fascinated by eccentric subjects that escape the notice of most people—and who is committed to practicing the piano, loudly and often—has resigned herself to a solitary intellectual life in her childhood home, looking after her parents. But then, in walks Lord Arthur de Bourgh, Mr. Darcy’s brilliant but introverted and slightly awkward cousin, and a new romantic story begins to unfold.
Mary and Arthur hit it off immediately, but as both are more used to the company of books than people, they struggle to express their affections. Their budding romance is first complicated by Lydia’s naïve, incessant flirting with Arthur, which is the result of her loneliness and dissatisfaction with her own husband, the elusive and untrustworthy Mr. Wickham (foreshadowing!). Their love is next foiled by Anne de Bourgh (Arthur’s cousin, once removed) who claims her mother Lady Catherine de Bourgh (Darcy’s aunt) professed that her dying wish was for Anne and Arthur to be married, though Anne was also supposedly betrothed to Darcy from childhood as well.
In the end, with the help (or hindrance) of well-meaning sisters, love conquers all just in time for Christmas, and Mary finds herself facing a future full of adventure and love, with the oddest, smartest man she has ever met.
What is to become of Lydia, Wickham, and the rest of the Bennet-Darcy Family? Find out in The Wickhams!Buy Tickets Here