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Name: Olivia Phoebe Fitzgerald
Nickname (if applicable): Livia, Liv
Date of Birth: 2cd August 1793
Father: Richard Fitzgerald, Earl of Rotherham, born (b. 1752)
Mother: Madeleine Fitzgerald, Countess of Rotherham, (b. 1758)
Brother: Richard Fitzgerald, Vicount Surrey, (b. 1778)
Brother: Colonel Robert Fitzgerald, (b. 1782)
Sister: Lady Viola Fitzgerald
, (b. 1787)
Sister-in-law: Cordelia, Viscountess Surrey, (b. 1783) with two children
Aunt: Mrs. Dorothy Greystone (b. 1756)
Fiancé: Sir William Devenish (b. 1786) For further details, see Viola’s profile.
Olivia is the youngest child of the Earl of Rotherham and is a full five years younger than her next sibling, Viola. Despite the fact, they are close and became more so in latter years, when Viola has not been in London for part of the year.
Olivia shared her sister’s governesses and learned all the necessary requirements for being a young lady in society. However, she was never as diligent as Viola and shirked her lessons. Despite learning the pianoforte to a certain level and having singing lessons, she has little musical aptitude. Her interest in literature is generally limited to the most frivolous of novels though she is always excited to discover apparent profundity in them. She particularly enjoys reading Mr. Lane’s books, especially as she knows who their real author is, knowledge about which she has sworn to her sister to keep silent. She is uninterested in embroidery though she does it out of necessity. Her French and Italian are passable in England, but hardly anything to boast of. Despite these unpromising beginnings, Olivia does have some artistic ability. She draws and paints well enough, though she rarely has the patience to finish a picture, and she enjoys looking at visual art. She is an excellent and reckless horsewoman and enjoys outdoors pursuits far more than indoor ones. She enjoys hunting and country walking.
The biggest event of her childhood was a serious bout of pneumonia that she contracted when she was ten years old. The illness lasted a month and the entire family subsequently moved to Southampton to aid her recovery with sea air. She made a complete recovery. The illness scared her parents but Olivia herself has never been made aware of exactly how serious it was. She remembers little of it, except enjoying the sea side holiday!
Olivia’s closest friends growing up were William and Charlie Devenish on the neighbouring estate. Since she was fourteen, however, Olivia developed romantic feelings for Will, then a handsome and grown up student. Sceptics might claim that she would have fancied any decent looking young man in the neighbourhood, but Olivia, who is something of a romantic, convinced herself of its being love, and lack of competition and alternative forms of amusement only encouraged the feelings. The previous summer, when Olivia was only sixteen, Will confessed that he also loved her and they entered into a secret engagement. The decision to keep it secret was mutual. Will’s financial situation was ropy at best since his father’s death and he worried that he would not be able to adequately support a wife, especially an Earl’s daughter. He was also only too well aware of Olivia’s sheltered existence and wanted her to experience the world a little more before marrying, as well as being sure of her choice. Olivia would have been happier to make the engagement known, and she finds keeping the secret from everybody difficult, but she suspects disapproval from her family both on account of Sir William’s lowly rank, lack of fortune, and her extreme youth and inexperience. She has found her relationship with Viola has suffered a little in the last year considering the secret between them, though perhaps no more than it naturally would at that age.
Olivia was originally intended to make her debut this season, accompanied by her sister, but she refused to do it, not wanting to be parted from Will. Her mother, uninterested in the season herself and not entirely convinced that another year at home would not be a bad thing for Olivia, was happy to acquiesce. Viola left for the season on her own. Will is unhappy, however, at Olivia’s giving up her chances for him and has been very persuasive in trying to change her mind. He even half promised to come down to London himself. Three days of being without her sister and Olivia is already kicking her heels and wondering if she made a mistake. She will miss the first Almack’s of the season, but if her aunt would be willing to take on the heavy duty of launching a debutante into society, then she should arrive in London that weekend.
Olivia is of medium height (though taller than her sister) and of slenderbuild. Her complexion is a shade lighter than her sister’s and she would probably be described as less interestingly handsome but more classically pretty. Her expression is also less haughty and more mischievous. Her eyes are dark brown. Her eyebrows are striking and curvy, considered her most beautiful feature. Her face is particularly expressive and unreserved, whether of transports of affection, amusement, boredom or anger.
Olivia has the happy combination of unreserved manners, a ready wit, strong affections and a total lack of affectation and self-consciousness. She is an intelligent girl with a good sense of humour and a delight in the ridiculous as marked as her sister’s. However, being the younger daughter and rather indulged she has never felt any of the responsibilities that Viola did, and consequently she has become incredibly lazy. She rarely has the patience to follow through anything she starts, whether this is a painting or keeping up a friendship. As might be anticipated, she is a terrible correspondent. Her short attention span means that only the liveliest and wittiest people can hold her interest for a long time. She begins every activity, conversation or friendship with a high level of genuine interest and the best of intentions, but often finds her enthusiasm slipping away from her sooner or later. It must be hoped that she will not eventually feel the same way about her fiancé when they are no longer in the same county.
Her lack of experience of interacting in a wider social setting means that she has never learned the important skill of listening with patience to other people whom she may not like or holding her tongue. Having said that, she rarely means to be rude and she is so delightful in her naivety and her wit so charming that she is generally forgiven any breaches of etiquette, though what may provoke an indulgent smile in a family setting might not be so well received in London society.
Olivia has a very affectionate and warm heart and is a romantic. She finds people interesting if they have a particularly unusual or romantic or tragic past. She is inclined to sympathize with such situations and such characters, though whether her sympathy would extend to being practically useful to them is not clear. Her heart is romantic and she feels strongly how disinterested her love for Will is, since she is perfectly well aware that she could do a lot better than an impoverished baronet. She feels that it is a sign of how deeply she loves him. She thinks the idea of unequal marriages, forbidden love and repressed passion very appealing, though perhaps she has read too many novels!