Hello, and welcome to the Season 2, Episode 19 of the Bones & Bobbins Podcast!
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The Bones & Bobbins Podcast, Season 2, Episode 19: She Walks in Beauty Like a Fright?
S02E19: Mrs. Margaret Smith-Wilkinson, nicknamed the Countess of Monte Cristo, and Lady Jane Lewson, the possible real life inspiration for Miss Havisham. Come meet a hotel mogul turned high society con artist (who probably wasn’t a black widow), and the enigmatic walking fire hazard that might have inspired Dickens’ fictional jilted bride; two women whose actual lives are truly the stuff of fiction.
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Here are links to the sources and resources we used while researching this episode:
Links to research materials:
Mrs. Margaret Smith-Wilkinson, The Countess of Monte Cristo:
- Photo of Mrs. Smith-Wilkinson with her husband in 1921: https://www.alamy.com/society-and-stage-at-devonshire-house-ball-in-aid-of-the-people-s-league-of-health-mrs-smith-wilkinson-famous-for-her-wonderful-dresses-and-her-husband-26-november-1921-image359816792.html
- Mrs. Smith-Wilkinson in a fabulous striped dress: https://media.gettyimages.com/photos/portrait-of-mrs-smith-wilkinson-women-who-broke-all-records-in-the-picture-id500253813
- The Bizarre Tale of Mrs Smith Wilkinson: https://www.jazzageclub.com/the-bizarre-tale-of-mrs-smith-wilkinson/1713/
- Matlock: Chesterfield House Hydro Brochure, 1906-17: https://www.andrewsgen.com/matlock/pix/matlock_chesterfieldhousehydro_brochure01.htm
- Weekly Dispatch (London), 15 March, 1925: https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/BL/0003358/19250315/039/0003?browse=False
- Warwick and Warwickshire Advertiser, Sunday 13 December, 1924: https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/BL/0001670/19241213/114/0007?browse=False
- Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Monday 05 July, 1926: https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/BL/0000250/19260705/160/0003?browse=False
- Liverpool Echo, Wednesday 13 July 1921: https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/BL/0000271/19210713/118/0004?browse=False
- Hull Daily Mail, Saturday, 20 January 1923: https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/BL/0000324/19230120/002/0001?browse=False
- The Countess of Monte Cristo, Sunday Post, Sunday, 17 July 1921: https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/BL/0000566/19210717/121/0016?browse=False
- New York Times, July 20, 1921: https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1921/07/20/109814451.html?pageNumber=2
Lady Jane Lewson, possible inspiration for Miss Havisham:
- Great Expectations: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/1400/1400-h/1400-h.htm
- The History and Antiquities of the County of Suffolk: https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/suffolk-history-antiquities/vol1
- The Serpent’s Pen Blog: https://www.davidcastleton.net/miss-havisham-lady-lewson-jane-charles-dickens-great-expectations/
- All Things Georgian blog: https://georgianera.wordpress.com/2018/02/08/the-truth-about-the-eccentric-jane-lewson-who-died-aged-116/
- Wikipedia Entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Lewson
- The English Eccentrics by Edith Sitwell: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/839814.The_English_Eccentrics?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=OH1ozeIVOS&rank=1
- A Recipe for Miss Havisham’s Bride Cake: https://www.inliterature.net/food-in-literature/baked-goods/cakes/2013/04/great-expectations-miss-havishams-bride-cake.html