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Austen as a Hot Property

Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet(But Not Available for Book Signings) It is a truth universally acknowledged that an author in possession of a good book must be in want of a producer. However little known the feelings or views of such an author may be on her first writing a best seller, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding film companies, that she is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their directors. Although that is not exactly the beginning of Pride and Prejudice, it is what Jane Austen might have written had she been alive in the 1990s to experience what literary critic John Maurice Ford has termed the Austen phenomenon (12), which came as something of a surprise even to the movie industry itself. In 1994, an American film company was interested in investing in the new BBC Pride and Prejudice series, but the Americans did not realize that Pride and Prejudice was a novel, did not know who the author was, nor, having been told, know that Jane Austen was deceased, and had been since 1817: So she wouldn’t be available for book signings? (Birtwistle & Conklin viii). When Columbia began filming Sense and Sensibility, a studio executive suggested a ‘novelisation’ of Emma Thompson’s screenplay, paying a novelist to convert the script into book form and then marketing the new book as Sense and Sensibility, apparently not realizing that the screenplay was itself already based on a novel by that name. Emma

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