Diana Villiers

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Diana Villiers is first introduced while riding in the hunt in the first chapter of Post Captain. She is a cousin to Sophie Williams, and lives as an almost penniless widow with her Williams relations.

Diana is a black haired woman with blue eyes, strikingly tall and slender. Her appearance is of some importance to her and she often capitalizes upon it. She is a woman with a reputation and is perceived to be flirtatious. Both Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin fall for her; indeed she is a woman who is attractive to many men. She does possess a sense of loyalty, albeit an unconventional one.

She occasionally hides her talents, such as the ability to play the piano; she is, however, a noted horsewoman. Her business sense is often lacking; she continually hovers between being poor and improvident. Much of her eventual wealth is due to the men she partners.



Before Master and Commander

Diana Villiers is the daughter of Mrs. Williams's sister, and of age with Sophie. Though English by birth, she has spent much of her life abroad, particularly in India, where both her father and her first husband were officers in the British army. She also remembers a stay in Paris as a girl.

SPOILER WARNING:  Plot or ending details for " Post Captain through The Hundred Days"  follow.

Post Captain through Desolation Island

Mrs Williams views Diana as a threat to Sophie's marriage prospects, and first bribes her with her own horse, and later arranges for her to care for their mad Cousin Edward. Stephen, although with no inducement from Diana, falls in love with her. Jack, though fond of Sophie, finds little encouragement when Mrs. Williams discovers the state of his finances. He then turns with more affection to Diana, to Sophie's jealousy. Eventually, the two women have an argument, and Diana leaves the Williams household permanently.

While Jack is stationed in The Downs, Diana pursues a romantic relationship with him, and insists on pure friendship with Stephen. This leads to the men's estrangement and nearly a duel. Eventually, she goes into keeping with Richard Canning, a wealthy married Jewish businessman in the East India Company, and the couple travel to India.

Jack, now engaged to Sophie, brings HMS Surprise to Bombay, where Stephen plans to meet Diana. She is unhappy with her situation, and thus encouraged, Stephen proposes. Upon his visiting her again in Calcutta for her answer, they are interrupted by Canning, which results in a duel. Canning is killed, whether on purpose or accident is uncertain, after he severely wounded Stephen. While Stephen is convalescing, she accepts his proposal and agrees to sail for England in the East Indiaman Lushington, after Jack first refuses her passage in the Surprise. Although the Surprise leaves earlier, they reach Madeira later due to weather. Diana, however, chooses to go with a new beau, Harry Johnson, to America, in hopes of making her fortune. She leaves a letter, with Stephen's ring, in Madeira.

She returns to London at the beginning of Desolation Island and is once again pursued by Stephen. Under the accusation of spying she flees again to America under the protection of Johnson. Among the friends she leaves behind is American Louisa Wogan, who is sentenced to be transported in the HMS Leopard for that very crime.

The Fortune of War through The Hundred Days

In The Fortune of War Stephen encounters Diana again in Boston, where Jack is held as a prisoner of war. Diana has grown disgusted with Johnson, and when Stephen takes refuge in her hotel room while on the run from a party of French spies, she hides him and helps him to secure Johnson's secret papers; however, she still resists his renewed proposal of marriage. Jack escapes with Stephen and smuggles Diana away with him. They are taken aboard HMS Shannon and are present throughout her battle with the Chesapeake. The Surgeon's Mate shows Diana in a new aspect, labouring selflessly among the men wounded in the battle. The three set out homeward, escaping a determined pursuit instigated by Johnson; but later, when Jack and Stephen fall into the hands of the French (following the wreck of the Ariel) and are lodged in the Temple Prison in Paris, Johnson himself appears and begins to move all the powers of the secret police against them. Diana pawns her most prized possession, the Blue Peter diamond, in an attempt to buy their freedom. Jack and Stephen escape with the connivance of Talleyrand and Diana accompanies them. At the end of the book she finally agrees to marry Stephen.

Trouble develops between the couple in Treason's Harbour. As part of his machinations against the French spy ring in Malta, Stephen has made use of a pretty Italian, Laura Fielding, as agent; Diana comes to believe that there has been an amatory liaison between them, and in outrage at the insult she leaves Stephen and travels to Sweden with Gedymin Jagiello, a young nobleman who was a fellow-prisoner in Paris. Only at the end of The Letter of Marque are the two reunited, when Stephen follows Diana to Sweden and she learns that a letter in which he explained the situation to her has been made away with by Andrew Wray to whom Stephen had unwisely entrusted it.

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