A Tweet universally acknowledged

P&P 2

Today sees the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride & Prejudice, one of the most enduring of all English novels, and seemingly so resilient a romance that it can survive everything from erotic parody to an invasion of zombies.

One of the hashtags doing the rounds on Twitter last week was #Twittercametoolatefor, and when I saw that it was Jane Austen who came immediately to mind. As someone who’s tried to emulate her beautifully constructed and deliciously wicked prose, I can’t think of any novelist in the last 200 years who would have risen so exquisitely to the challenge of being regularly witty in bite-sized chunks.

And when I read that the BBC is marking the bicentenary with a full recreation of the Netherfield ball, I started to wonder how that famous episode in Pride & Prejudice might have played out if the characters had been able to tweet to each other – if the Bennet girls had iPhones in their reticules and Mrs Bennet’s chatter was on Twitter, if Mr Collins was confined to 140 characters and Darcy could DM….

Meryton’s daily newspaper @MerytonBugle

The evening’s events at Netherfield are about to commence! Tweet us your #gossip, #witticisms or #fashiontips Hashtag #Netherfield
Mr Bingley @MrCharlesBingley
@DarcyofPemberley Where are you Darcy? @TheMissBingley and I are in the hall to receive our guests
Mr Darcy @DarcyofPemberley
@MrCharlesBingley I am sure you will do very well without me. You know I detest dancing and besides there is no-one here in whom I take the smallest interest
Mr Bingley @MrCharlesBingley
@DarcyofPemberley Haha – I’m not so sure about that! I see the lovely Bennet sisters approaching even now….
Miss Bingley @TheMissBingley
@TheMrsHurst Raise the drawbridge - here comes the blowsy Mrs Bennet and her husband-hunting horde #deepjoy #not
Mrs Hurst @TheMrsHurst
@TheMissBingley Manners, Caroline, manners! ;)
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MissJBennet How do I look? I cannot remember ever feeling so much excitement in the anticipation of a ball! #butterflies
Jane Bennet @MissJBennet
@MissLizzieBennet You look very lovely – and I am sure a *certain person* will agree. Have you seen him yet?
Lydia Bennet @RedcoatsBabe
@MissLizzieBennet @MissJBennet Kitty and I will go searching for him among the redcoats #anyexcuse
Meryton’s daily newspaper @MerytonBugle
We hear the dashing @MrGeorgeWickham is not present – we’re told business called him away but is that the *real* reason? #gossip #Netherfield
Mr Denny @MrMDenny
@MerytonBugle I cannot imagine @MrGeorgeWickham missing the company of such beautiful ladies had there not been someone he wished to avoid
Lydia Bennet @RedcoatsBabe
@MissLizzieBennet Poor Lizzie! After all that time doing your hair! :(
Meryton’s daily newspaper @MerytonBugle
We’re also told that *some people* present have 100s of devoted followers but are too proud to follow anyone beyond their own circle #gossip
Mrs Long @MrsLongMeryton
@MerytonBugle Its a truth univ acknowleg’d that single men with large fortune are followed by women with marriageable daughters #youknowwho
Charlotte Lucas @MsCharlotteLucas
@MerytonBugle It’s no surprise a young man with family and fortune should think highly of himself. IMHO he has a right to be proud
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MsCharlotteLucas I could more easily forgive that *certain person’s* pride, if he had not mortified mine *sigh*
Mary Bennet @MissMBennet
#Humannature is especially prone to #pride but a person may be proud without being vain. #Pride relates to our opinion of ourselves, #vani …
Tommy Lucas @MrTommyLucas
*butting in* If I was as rich as Mr D I’d keep a pack of hounds and drink a bottle of wine every day – LOL!
Lady Lucas @TheLadyLucas
@MrTommyLucas You would do no such thing. And you can keep away from that rum punch
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MissJBennet Oh this is too bad! Poor Wickham excluded and now the person responsible is approaching to speak to me! *assumes cross face*
Jane Bennet @MissJBennet
@MissLizzieBennet Do not be discourteous Lizzie – we do not know the full reason for W’s absence –it may have nothing to do with Mr Darcy
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MissJBennet Fiddlesticks! Civility to *him* is injury to Wickham.
Jane Bennet @MissJBennet
@MissLizzieBennet They may both have been deceived in the other in some way we cannot understand. It is very difficult - one does not know what to think
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MissJBennet I beg your pardon – one knows *exactly* what to think
Jane Bennet @MissJBennet
@MissLizzieBennet *sigh*
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
One cannot be always laughing at a man without stumbling on something witty - one may be continually abusive without saying anything just
Meryton’s daily newspaper @MerytonBugle
RT @MissLizzieBennet One cannot be always laughing at a man without stumbling on something witty - one may be continually abusive without saying anything just #witticism
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MerytonBugle *laughs* It is such a spur to one's genius to have a dislike of that kind!
Mr Hurst @TheMrHurst
Is there no decent claret to be had in this damn place? #Harrumph
Meryton’s daily newspaper @MerytonBugle
We love @MissKingHeiress’s ringlets but @MissLucyStone might note that red is not customarily paired with pink #fashiontips #Netherfield
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MsCharlotteLucas I had no idea Wickham would not be here! I intended to dance with him a great deal and conquer all that remained unsubdued of his heart! :(
Charlotte Lucas @MsCharlotteLucas
@MissLizzieBennet And you were going to do all that in a single evening? *arches eyebrow*
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MsCharlotteLucas *laughs* I was determined to be at my most irresistible – but oh Lord here comes my cousin Collins to claim his dances #fateworsethandeath
Charlotte Lucas @MsCharlotteLucas
@MissLizzieBennet I am disengaged, if it will assist you….
The Reverend Mr Collins @TheRevMrCollins
I am most delighted to announce that the enchanting @MissLizzieBennet has honoured me with her hand for two first dances, and indeed I ferv….
Mr Darcy @DarcyofPemberley
@MrCharlesBingley I fear I have offended Miss Elizabeth. There is no other accounting for the way she spoke to me just now
Mr Bingley @MrCharlesBingley
@MrCharlesBingley I hear from her beautiful sister that Wickham has become a great favourite with her…
Mr Darcy @DarcyofPemberley
@MrCharlesBingley That does not bode well.
Mr Bingley @MrCharlesBingley
@MrCharlesBingley Why don’t you ask her for the two next? She looks thoroughly miserable dancing with that oaf – whoever he is, he dances like a baboon
Meryton’s daily newspaper @MerytonBugle
What do the young ladies think of regimentals? Does a red coat make the man? Tweet us at #meninuniform #Netherfield
Mrs Bennet @ThatMrsBennet
@MerytonBugle I like a redcoat myself and if a smart young Col with 5 or 6k a yr shd want one of my girls I shant say nay! #meninuniform
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MsCharlotteLucas Mr C gets more attentive by the day–I’ve an awful feeling he wants me as mistress of his ghastly parsonage. But do NOT mention it to mother
Charlotte Lucas @MsCharlotteLucas
@MissLizzieBennet *seals lips* ;)
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MsCharlotteLucas And now Darcy comes in state to ask *me* to dance. He never dances! What can he possibly see in me to bestow such an egregious honour?
Charlotte Lucas @MsCharlotteLucas
@MissLizzieBennet Your sparkling wit and flattering conversation? ;)
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MsCharlotteLucas :P
Charlotte Lucas @MsCharlotteLucas
@MissLizzieBennet I dare say you will find him very agreeable :)
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MsCharlotteLucas Heaven forbid! That would be the greatest misfortune of all! To find a man agreeable whom one is determined to hate!
Charlotte Lucas @MsCharlotteLucas
@MissLizzieBennet Seriously Lizzie – don’t be a simpleton and let your fancy for W make you appear unpleasant in the eyes of a man 10x his consequence
Meryton’s daily newspaper @MerytonBugle
We hear @MissLizzieBennet has received an extraordinarily distinction – to be asked to dance by @DarcyofPemberley! What can it mean? #gossip
Mrs Bennet @ThatMrsBennet
@MerytonBugle Well * Im* watching my @MissJBennet dancing with @MrCharlesBingley for the *3rd* time! A *certain event’ cant be far off! ;)
Sir William Lucas @SirWilliamLucas
@ThatMrsBennet My congratulations! @MrCharlesBingley and @MissJBennet are indeed a handsome couple. What a fine match for one of your girls!
Mrs Bennet @ThatMrsBennet
@TheLadyLucas @SirWilliamLucas I have no dout she will be settled at #Netherfield by Xmas - what pin money, what jewels, what carriages! :’)
Mrs Bennet @ThatMrsBennet
@TheLadyLucas @SirWilliamLucas That @MrCharlesBingley is such a charmin young man! So rich and living so close! #diedandgonetoheaven #fb
Mrs Bennet @ThatMrsBennet
@TheLadyLucas @SirWilliamLucas And J's marrying so well must throw the younger girls in the way of other rich men #havemyeyeonafewalready
Mrs Bennet @ThatMrsBennet
@TheLadyLucas I hope *you* will be as lucky with your Charlotte - how old is she now? 27 is it? Or even 28?
Lady Lucas @TheLadyLucas
@SirWillliamLucas *yawns*
Lydia Bennet @RedcoatsBabe
I don’t care how much money @MrCharlesBingley has – I wouldn’t even *think* of marrying a man without a redcoat :P #meninuniform
Kitty Bennet @ThatKittyBennet
Colonel Forster looks just *dreamy* in his. But if J does marry @MrCharlesBingley imagine what parties they’ll have! #wewantmoreballs
Tommy Lucas @MrTommyLucas
@ThatKittyBennet LMAO

Lady Lucas @TheLadyLucas
@MrTommyLucas TOMMY!
The Reverend Mr Collins @TheRevMrCollins
5* review from @LadyCatherinedeB “I condescend to approve these discourses” SERMONS FROM HUNSFORD Download free today at http://t.co/3P3tKh
Charlotte Lucas @MsCharlotteLucas
@ThatMrsBennet @ThatKittyBennet @RedcoatsBabe I fear Mr D may have seen those tweets about Bingley and Jane…
Lydia Bennet @RedcoatsBabe
@MsCharlotteLucas I don’t see how – he only follows about *three* people
Mrs Bennet @ThatMrsBennet
@MsCharlotteLucas What is it your suggesting? What is @DarcyofPemberley to me pray that I shd be afraid of him? He is all ate up with pride
Mary Bennet @MissMBennet
@ThatMrsBennet In point of #composition the #grammar in that tweet is defective. I have often observed that ‘your’ and ‘you’re’ are used incor….
Lydia Bennet @RedcoatsBabe
*rolls eyes*
Mrs Bennet @ThatMrsBennet
@MissMBennet I will speak to *you* at home young lady
Miss Bingley @TheMissBingley
@DarcyofPemberley So that vulgar Lizzie Bennet is confirmed as your favourite? I recall you praised her ‘fine eyes’. When pray am I to wish you joy?
Mr Darcy @DarcyofPemberley
@TheMissBingley I dance with a woman once and you are already wishing me joy.
Miss Bingley @TheMissBingley
@DarcyofPemberley Ha! I now consider the matter as absolutely settled. You’ll have a charming MIL and of course she’ll be always at Pemberley with you ;)
Meryton’s daily newspaper @MerytonBugle
BREAKING: After weeks of speculation we have it from a reliable source that @MissJBennet and @MrCharlesBingley are indeed to wed! #gossip
Lady Lucas @TheLadyLucas
@ThatMrsBennet Your Jane may make a great marriage but I doubt her sister will be doing the same–she and Mr D barely spoke during the dance
Mrs Bennet @ThatMrsBennet
@TheLadyLucas Who cares about that odious man–besides I fully expect Lizzie will soon be in receit of an offer herself ;) #2daughtersmarried
Charlotte Lucas @MsCharlotteLucas
@MissLizzieBennet You and Mr D did seem remarkably silent as you danced. And yet I am sure he admires you – I think you may have more in common than you know
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MsCharlotteLucas I suggested that we are both of an unsocial disposition, unwilling to speak unless we can say something that will amaze the whole room ;)
Charlotte Lucas @MsCharlotteLucas
@MissLizzieBennet You *told* him that?!
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MsCharlotteLucas But when I mentioned Wickham there was such a look of consciousness in his face – such an appearance of guilt and duplicity
Charlotte Lucas @MsCharlotteLucas
@MissLizzieBennet Do not jump to conclusions Lizzie – there may be more to it than meets the eye – and Mr D is not one to talk openly of his private business
Meryton’s daily newspaper @MerytonBugle
We now hear *two* announcements may be imminent at Longbourn – @MissLizzieBennet is said to be most taken with @MrGeorgeWickham… #gossip
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MerytonBugle *blushes* You jump from acquaintance to matrimony in 140 characters! Though I concur that he is a most amiable gentleman
Miss Bingley @TheMissBingley
So @MissLizzieBennet is wildly delighted with @MrGeorgeWickham! Is she, perhaps, unaware that he is the son of the late Mr Darcy’s steward?
Miss Bingley @TheMissBingley
I recommend, moreover, that @MissLizzieBennet does not give credence to *all* his assertions – he treated Mr D in a most infamous manner
Miss Bingley @TheMissBingley
I pity @MissLizzieBennet for this discovery of her favourite's guilt, but considering his descent one could not expect better #lowbreeding
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@TheMissBingley His guilt and his descent appear to be one and the same, for you accuse him of nothing worse than being the son of a steward
Miss Bingley @TheMissBingley
@MissLizzieBennet Excuse my interference. It was kindly meant #youhavebeenwarned #dontcomecryingtome
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MissJBennet The insolence of that woman! But she’s bound to stand up for Mr D – I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s already reserved the @MrsDarcy ID…
Jane Bennet @MissJBennet
@MissLizzieBennet I did ask Mr B about W – he does not know very much but he does vouch for the probity and honour of Mr D
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MissJBennet It is natural that he should defend his friend. But since he has only heard Mr D’s side of the question, I intend to stick to my own opinion
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MissJBennet But I *am* delighted that Mr B talks so freely to you –I never saw so promising an inclination – no-one who sees him can doubt his affection
Jane Bennet @MissJBennet
@MissLizzieBennet :)) x
The Reverend Mr Collins @TheRevMrCollins
@MissLizzieBennet @MissJBennet I have made a most important discovery. There is even now in the room a near relation of my patroness Lady Ca…
The Reverend Mr Collins @TheRevMrCollins
@MissLizzieBennet @MissJBennet …therine de Bourgh! I am thankful the discovery is made in time to pay my respects to this @DarcyofPemberley
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@TheRevMrCollins You are not thinking of introducing yourself to him?
The Reverend Mr Collins @TheRevMrCollins
@MissLizzieBennet Indeed I am. I shall intreat his pardon for not having done so earlier
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@TheRevMrCollins I really don’t think that’s a good idea – he might well think it an impertinent freedom
The Reverend Mr Collins @TheRevMrCollins
@MissLizzieBennet I have the highest opinion in the world of your excellent judgment in matters within the scope of your understanding…
The Reverend Mr Collins @TheRevMrCollins
@MissLizzieBennet …but I consider the clerical office as equal with the highest rank in England—provided that a proper humility is maintained
The Reverend Mr Collins @TheRevMrCollins
@DarcyofPemberley *bows* Might I humbly introduce myself - I have the immense honour to call Lady Catherine de Bourgh my patroness, and when I discovered that…
Your message could not be sent. @DarcyofPemberley does not follow you
Lydia Bennet @RedcoatsBabe
@ThatKittyBennet OMG – someone just mentioned singing - just you wait – Mary’ll make a complete fool of herself *again* #shessopants
Kitty Bennet @ThatKittyBennet
@RedcoatsBabe :O
Mary Bennet @MissMBennet
I am honoured to oblige this esteemed company with a musical performance – I have selected a concerto by Johan Sebastian #Bach who is gener…
Lydia Bennet @RedcoatsBabe
@ThatKittyBennet Told you so *facepalm*
Miss Bingley @TheMissBingley
@TheMrsHurst Honestly – have you ever heard such a vile cacophony? Those Bennets have no shame - must they inflict *so many* daughters upon us?
Mrs Hurst @TheMrsHurst
@TheMissBingley The younger two have done nothing all night but ogle at officers - such a want of propriety – and as for the mother *shudders*
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MrBofLongbourne Father please do something – Mary will shame us all
Mr Bennet @MrBofLongbourn
@MissMBennet That will do extremely well, child. You have delighted us long enough. Let the other young ladies have time to exhibit
Mary Bennet @MissMBennet
@MrBofLongbourn *sulks*
Meryton’s daily newspaper @MerytonBugle
The evening’s drawing to a close here now at #Netherfield. We’ll be updating our #FB page with all the #news #gossip and #pics tomorrow
Mr Bennet @MrBofLongbourn
@ThatMrsBennet Do you know what has happened to the carriage? Most of the other guests have already departed
Mrs Bennet @ThatMrsBennet
@MrBofLongbourn Oh I have arranged it all! I wanted to give dear J as much time as possible with her soon-to-be-intended! ;)
Mrs Bennet @ThatMrsBennet
@MrCharlesBingley It has been such a delightful evening! And you wd make us so happy if you would come to eat family dinner at Longbourn!
Mr Bingley @MrCharlesBingley
@ThatMrsBennet I should be delighted
Miss Bingley @TheMissBingley
@TheMrsHurst Heaven preserve us from *family dinner* at Longbourn…
Mrs Bennet @ThatMrsBennet
@MrCharlesBingley And please dont feel you have to bring anyone with you. Specially not that po-faced friend of yours….
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@ThatMrsBennet Mother – please!
Miss Bingley @TheMissBingley
Social events can be *so* fatiguing! Where *can* that Bennet carriage be? #outstayingtheirwelcome
Lydia Bennet @RedcoatsBabe
Lord how tired I am!! *hic*
Mary Bennet @MissMBennet
It is no sacrifice to join occasionally in evening engagements. #Society has claims on us all and I am one of those who consider #recreation…
Lydia Bennet @RedcoatsBabe
*headfloor*
The Reverend Mr Collins @TheRevMrCollins
@MrCharlesBingley @TheMissBingley @TheMrsHurst @TheMrHurst @DarcyofPemberley @NetherfieldButler @NetherfieldCook May I humbly take this oppo….
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MissJBennet if our family had actively set out to shame us this evening, I doubt they could have done so more comprehensively *sigh*
Elizabeth Bennet @MissLizzieBennet
@MissJBennet Remind me of that, won’t you, next time I look forward to a ball….
Jane Bennet @MissJBennet
@MissLizzieBennet :)

Lynn Shepherd’s 2010 novel Murder at Mansfield Park is available as an e-book from Corsair. Her new literary mystery, A Treacherous Likeness, is inspired by the lives of the Shelleys and will be published by Corsair on February 7th. Her Twitter ID is @Lynn_Shepherd

12 Comments

  1. Cliff notes – HA! This was brilliant Lynn!

  2. Stupendous!

  3. Excellent work Lynn – very good indeed :-) )

  4. Pingback: If Pride & Prejudice had been on Twitter... Lynn Shepherd

  5. Fabulous!

  6. Absolutely superb. Captures the characters perfectly.

  7. I *love* the idea of Lizzie and Caroline being in a massive Twitter war. Epic. (Well done!)

  8. Fabulous way to celebrate PandP200. Thanks Lynn.

  9. Christina B says:

    Please continue– brilliant!!

  10. Pingback: Roundup of Pride and Prejudice Turning 200 and other Amusements « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

  11. Very funny!! This could be a whole new genre! I would read more of this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>