The Royal Society of Literature is auctioning off a collection of Jane Austen memorabilia, including some handwritten letters about the author from contemporary writers. In her note about Austen, The Handmaid's Tale author Margaret Atwood writes a very important criticism about Mr. Darcy, aka Everyone's Favorite Regency Heartthrob.
In her letter, Atwood questions whether bookish girls’ teenage obsessions with Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy set us up for failure. After noting that Darcy was “a hero who was unpleasant to the heroine, but later turned out to be not only admirable and devotedly in love with her, but royally rich,” Atwood wonders:
Were underage readers of this book, such as myself, doomed to a series of initially hopeful liaisons in which unpleasant men turned out to be simply unpleasant?
Good question. I’ve known many more seemingly pleasant men who turned out to be wholly disagreeable than the reverse, and I’m sure I’m not alone.
Atwood's letter is one of six items in the live auction, which also includes a letter on Northanger Abbey from Atonement author Ian McEwan and an original short story by Wolf Hall author Hillary Mantel. Bids for the live auction may be emailed to The Royal Society of Literature Development Director Lucy Howard prior to 6 p.m. Monday, per The Guardian.
Twelve more items await bidders in The Royal Society of Literature's online auction. These include letters from Tracey Chevalier, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian Rankin, Sarah Waters, and Jacqueline Wilson, as well as original cartoons from Quentin Blake and Posy Simmonds. Bids will be accepted through the website until midnight on Tuesday, June 27.