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Jane Austen News – Issue 142

The Jane Austen News looks at The Watsons

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Willoughby on Sense and Sensibility

In an article published in The Telegraph, this week we were surprised to find out that in his youth, Greg Wise (aka John Willoughby from the 1995 film of Sense and Sensibility) came close to giving up acting, which would have meant that he would never have met the love of his life, Dame Emma Thompson (who played Elinor Dashwood in the 1995 film, as well as writing the screenplay for it)!

The work I’m paid to do as an actor is really play. An awful lot of people who work in any form of arts have to have a childlike quality. A lot of us are quite childish as well.  

 

My parents wanted me to get a degree, so I studied architecture in Edinburgh for three years first. Although I never really wanted to be an architect, I’m thrilled I did it. I think everyone should do a year of architecture; it opens your eyes up to what is mainly really shoddy design.

 

Early in my final year I auditioned for drama school and ended up moving to Glasgow. I didn’t start earning until I was 25 – then after 18 months I decided to retire from acting. My closest friend, Simon, had drowned. I remember sitting opposite my agent, who was in tears, as I said I was giving up. I took myself off to Australia for six months and got my head together. I came back and I’ve loved working since.

 

I’ve never worked a great deal. It’s not been a career so much as a series of choices that you make for the best reasons at the time. Although if I don’t say Sense and Sensibility [written by and starring Emma Thompson, Wise’s wife] stands out in my career, I’ll get divorced. That was an amazing piece of work and I met the love of my life. I wasn’t paid very much, though.

We enjoyed reading a little bit more about Greg Wise and his changing relationship with acting, so we hope you did too.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 141

The Jane Austen News is ready for Sanditon!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Sanditon Just Down The Road!

There’s exciting news for those of us in the South West/Bristol area.

As you probably already know, Andrew Davies, the writer behind behind the likes of the TV adaptations of Pride and Prejudice 1995 and War and Peace has joined the team at Red Planet Pictures who are planning to film a production of Jane’s unfinished novel Sanditon. It’s set to begin filming in Spring 2019, and who it will star is yet to be announced.

Jane Austen managed to write only a fragment of her last novel before she died – but what a fragment! Sanditon tells the story of the transformation of a sleepy fishing village into a fashionable seaside resort, with a spirited young heroine, a couple of entrepreneurial brothers, some dodgy financial dealings, a West Indian heiress, and quite a bit of nude bathing. It’s been a privilege and a thrill for me to develop Sanditon into a TV drama for a modern audience.

Andrew Davies

As it is in it’s early stages of planning, not many details are known as of yet about the intricacies of the plot/script/costumes etc. However, the latest news to emerge from the Red Planet Pictures press team is that Bristol is going to be one of the main filming locations for the production! Exciting news since Bath is only half an hour away!

Specific locations in the Bristol area have not yet been named, but adverts have been spotted online calling for Sanditon filming crew at Bottle Yard Studios (a well-established studio based in Whitchurch on the outer fringes of Bristol). Who knows, perhaps a few of the Centre staff may be able to snag roles as extras!

Sanditon tells the story of the impulsive and spirited Charlotte Heywood, and her volatile relationship with the charming Sidney Parker. When a chance accident takes Charlotte from her rural hometown of Willingden to the up-and-coming coastal resort of Sanditon, it exposes Charlotte to the intrigues and dalliances of a seaside town on the rise, and the characters whose fortunes depend on its commercial success.

This will be the first time that Sanditon will have been brought to a television audience. The Jane Austen News is really looking forward to it.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 140

The Jane Austen News has a wedding reading list this week

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Forget Books Before You Die, Try Books Before You Wed

There are plenty of lists which lay out which books you need to read before you die, but one the Jane Austen News hasn’t come across before is a list of books to read before your wedding day. However, that’s exactly what we’ve come across this week, and we were very pleased to see that Pride and Prejudice made the list of five must-read books.

The majority of the list was non-fiction books, covering a range of subjects, but Pride and Prejudice was included on the list as it “will help you understand the difference between what’s material and essential in every relationship.”

The full list was:

Mindful Relationship Habits by S. J. Scott and Barrie Davenport – this book describes how to stay connected to your spouse even after being together for a long time.

The Kamasutra by Vatsyayana – tips on how to keep your sexual life varied

Every Woman by Derek Llewellyn-Jones – this book talks about female health issues like puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.

It’s Not You, It’s The Dishes by Paula Szuchman and Jenny Anderson – a book highlighting the importance of communication and role-playing.

Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen – a must for so many reasons!

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Historical Knotwork – The Sea Chest Becket

Historical Knotwork of a sea chest becketHistorical Knotwork – A Naval CV of Sorts This sea chest becket (handle) is exactly the sort which would have been found on the naval chests used by sailors in Nelson’s Navy. Not only is it a beautiful item in itself, it’s also an object which would have worked as a sort of “knotwork CV” for any boy who wished to be hired. Nelson himself joined the Royal Navy in 1771 at the age of twelve. In that era, children of this age were old enough to take up training or apprenticeships and it was normal for boys to go to sea to train as officers and, if they passed the examination before the Commissioners of the Admiralty, they could expect to be lieutenants at the age of eighteen. If any boy (or trained sailor for that matter) needed to prove his worth to a prospective captain or other marine employer, then a sea chest becket such as this one would show his skill with ropes, and prove that he would be a skilled pair of hands to have aboard ship. However, usually they would not be done by the sailor, but would come already installed on the chest. Those with the skill to make them would get the chest with plain beckets and then replace them when he had the time. How is it made? This sea chest becket is made from a rope centre, spliced at either end,  padded with canvas (or “pudding’d” to give it it’s technical (more…)
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Jane Austen News – Issue 139

The Jane Austen News takes us to Pakistan this week

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Pride and Prejudice Retold in Pakistan

US-based Pakistani author, Soniah Kamal, will soon be publishing her new book, Unmarriagable, which is (as you might have guessed from the heading) Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice retold in modern-day Pakistan.

The book is due to be released in January 2019, but it was in the pipeline for Kamal long before this time – she’s wanted to write a Pakistani version of the novel since she was 16 as she loves, “this story of five sisters, their ineffectual father and desperate mother who just wants her daughters to ‘settle down’ (so Pakistani)”, and because she “really longed to read fiction that reflected my world and so without realizing it, I was following Toni Morrison’s advice to write what you want to read.”

The story centres around the Binat family. Lizzy is recast as Alys, while Mr Darcy becomes Valentine Darsee. Kamal has kept much of the original Pride and Prejudice storyline, which many die-hard Austen fans will be pleased to hear.

The challenge of doing a retelling (versus an ‘inspired by’) in order to satisfy Jane Austen fans is that you have to hit all the beats in the plot as well as stay true to the essence of each of the characters. But then for readers who are not coming for Austen, you have to write a story that stands on its own legs. Setting it in Pakistan meant writing for those familiar with the culture and those new to it. Writing Unmarriageable was a real juggling act.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 138

The Jane Austen News looks at Darcy

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Mr Darcy’s Reputation Condemned At Lit Fest

Writer and podcaster Dolly Alderton delivered a controversial judgement on Jane’s most famous romantic hero, Mr Darcy, at Cheltenham Literature Festival this Sunday.

Alderton put forward her opinion that Darcy is a conceited, rude, humourless snob, who has had a dangerous effect on dating culture. She also said that Darcy was probably the first written example of ‘negging’; a phrase which was coined by the American writer Neil Strauss, in his book The Game: Penetrating The Secret Society of Pick-Up Artists. Negging, in case you (like I) didn’t know, is the act of emotional manipulation whereby a person makes a deliberate backhanded compliment, or flirtatious remark, to undermine someone’s confidence and increase the need for approval.

Alderton quoted as one piece of evidence of negging from Pride and Prejudice, the point where Darcy says (in her earshot) that Elizabeth Bennet “is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me.”

When you Google Mr Darcy there are so many female apologists for his behaviour. So many say he is just shy. Women are so, so keen to preserve the romantic mysticism of Mr Darcy.

The idea that a man is there to be cracked or is hard to get or something to be won I think is very, very damaging. It should not be that difficult. Elizabeth is the prize to be won.

Alderton was taking part in a debate about which romantic hero from literature, Darcy or Heathcliff, was the worst. Hopefully Darcy fans will be able to take some comfort therefore in the fact that the audience agreed that Heathcliff, “a man who hanged dogs, beat up old women and imprisoned young women”, was worst.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 137

The Jane Austen News would lobve to visit!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


The Man Who Won A Bookshop

When Paul Morris, owner of Bookends bookshop in Cardigan, decided that he wanted to retire, he made the unusual move of raffling his bookshop off instead of putting it up for sale (it was worth an estimated £30,000 if he was to have sold it). Any customer who spent more than £20 in the shop over the past three months was eligible to be entered into the raffle to win the bookshop.

Overall sixty names were put into the raffle hat, and the winner was announced as Ceisjan van Heerden from the Netherlands. He says he will be taking over at the bookshop on November the 5th, alongside his friend from Iceland who is now moving to west Wales. Although, as if this story was remarkable enough, the pair have never actually met – but they have been friends online for nine years.

It might sound strange, but we are sure we can make it work. It is just an amazing opportunity

van Heerden

Mr Morris explained his decision to raffle the bookshop rather than sell it, and at the Jane Austen News we thought it was a charming reason, and we hope that Mr Morris has a fantastic retirement and that Bookends continues to thrive under its new management!

I thought about selling it, but I thought instead, let’s give someone an opportunity in life which they might not otherwise have had. The principle was to make sure the shop continues in good hands. I always wanted to have a bookshop, but I’ve had my stint, and now it’s time for someone else to take over.

Paul Morris

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Jane Austen News – Issue 136

The Jane Austen News learns about Colette

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


The Author Behind The Film

In the Jane Austen News last week we mentioned the upcoming film Colette, starring 2005 Lizzy Bennet actress Keira Knightley. Well since then we came across a brilliant TIME article which gave us a bit more background about the author, and we thought that you, as a fan of the pioneering author Jane Austen, might also enjoy reading a bit about another pioneering female author.

Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette was born in 1873 in Burgundy in France. At the age of 20 she fell in love with, and went on to marry, Henry Gauthier-Villars, then aged 34, who was the owner of a ghostwriting enterprise which published novels under the pen name “Willy”. Colette became a member of the ghostwriting team and, when there was a bad case of writer’s block and a lack of money, Henry asked Colette to write about her school days. The result, published in 1900, was the book Claudine at School, which became a huge hit and turned into the first of a best-selling four-book series.

As the books gained even more popularity, Colette and Willy argued about adding her name as an author. Eventually the books were brought out with “Willy and Colette Willy” on the covers as the publishers wouldn’t remove his name from the series until a long time after his death. Although, on the positive side, after the couple separated (following many love affairs on both sides which led to an open marriage) Colette’s talent was better recognised and she became the first female President of the renowned Paris literary society, the Academie Goncourt.

This may not sound like Austen and Colette had much in common, but their books, although very different in tone and primary subject, do have a shared theme; that of inherent human nature:

Her uncanny feminine understanding, hearty physical sympathy for the internal workings of human nerves and glands, make her a writer who cannot avoid being labeled passionate but who never runs any danger of being cheap.

Hopefully you found this brief background on Colette as interesting as we at the Jane Austen News did. The full article on Colette can be found here.

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