A few months ago we very much enjoyed watching a new production of E.M. Forster’s novel Howards End on the BBC. Unfortunately many of our overseas readers who would have liked to have seen it weren’t able to as they can’t receive BBC channels. The good news for those overseas fans is that the BAFTA-nominated series will now air on Starz at 8pm ET/PT on Sunday April 8th.
The series features Matthew MacFadyen as Henry Wilcox, one of the main characters. The same Matthew MacFadyen who played Mr Darcy in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. We mention this partly because many Austen fans also like the work of E.M. Forster and period dramas as a whole, and partly because in an interview Matthew gave to promote the airing of the series on Starz, he made a disclosure about his role as Mr Darcy: that he wasn’t everyone’s idea of a 2005 Mr Darcy!
As wonderful a production as Howards End is, at my house, you’ll always be Mr. Darcy. Did you have any second thoughts about taking on such an iconic role?
It was a little bit daunting. I mean, it took a long time to get the job. They didn’t really want me, you know. Somebody didn’t want me. So no, but it was lovely. It was a nice job to do. It was a little scary. I better not screw this up.
No wonder it was a little scary! We at the Jane Austen News thought he did a great job though!
If you’ll be in (or able to travel to) Bath on August 25th then you might like to know that there will be an open-air performance of a stage adaptation of Sense and Sensibility taking place that day.
The Chapterhouse Theatre Company will be performing the stage adaptation at the beautiful Claverton Manor, the commanding 1820 manor house on the outskirts of Bath which is home to the American Museum.
Tickets are limited so booking is essential, but it sounds like a marvelous evening out. The “doors” will open at 6pm for picnics and the performance itself will run from 7pm-9pm. Tickets for adults are £16, for children are £10 (under 5s go free), and family tickets are £46 (2 adults and 3 children [5 -18 years]).
“Picnic in some of the most beautiful gardens and enjoy a night of magical theatre under the stars.” Many of us at the Jane Austen News certainly intend to!
We mentioned in one of our previous newsletters a little while ago that a new online multiplayer role-playing game called Ever, Jane was being released. Well, for those fans who like the idea of a Jane Austen role-playing game, but who would rather not do it online and who instead prefer the idea of a few friends getting together to play in the same place, this one might be for you.
A Good Society is a role-playing game (RPG) which has been designed and made by the Australian team ‘Storybrewers’, after raising over AUS$ 154,774 through its Kickstarter campaign. Games reviewer Chella Ramanan was lucky enough to play an early test version of A Good Society, and she had this to say about it:
First the art for the game is beautiful and diverse and inclusive characters. Unlike most BBC adaptations of Austen, A Good Society includes black and Asian characters. Also the illustrations include different body types and no oversexualised women. So we’re off to a very good start.
Basically, the players create the story as they go, which sounds like a recipe for disaster, but actually, it works. The GM (games master) is the Facilitator, which means they help players by asking questions and throwing the occasional narrative spanner in the works to get the plot moving.
One of the best things about A Good Society is the collaborative aspect. Everyone decides what level of historical accuracy and seriousness they want.
It’s light on mechanics, leaving plenty of room for organic, cooperative storytelling, which is just really good fun. Plus, everyone needs more Regency in their life.
A new book by called Jane and Dorothy, A True Tale of Sense and Sensibility by author Marian Veevers might be one our fellow Austen fans might like to look up and add to their to-read piles.
Jane and Dorothy explores and contrasts the lives of Jane Austen and Dorothy Wordsworth, both female authors from the Georgian era, but two authors with very different writing careers. Jane Austen strove to make a living from her writing, while Dorothy lived with and made her primary focus caring for her brother, the famous poet William Wordsworth.
In looking at the lives of these two writers Veevers explores the huge subject of women’s roles in Regency society, as well as exploring the writings of the two authors’ friends, family and other contemporaries. Veevers also researched the British Navy, the French Revolution, the history of dissenters, and the East India Company for the book. So it should be a very interesting read!
The indie bookstore ‘The Wild Detectives’ in Dallas has launched an interesting campaign that caught our eye.
“Shequel” is a campaign which imagines what classic literature would look like if the male protagonists were replaced with women. Dracula becomes Draculess, Dorian Gray is instead Doris Gray, Oliver Twist is replaced by Olivia Twist etc.
The bookstore designed new covers for a few classic novels and created updated excerpts that replace the male leads with female ones.
The inspiration comes from our every day. Only 11 percent of women in the creative industry hold upper-level positions. The same happens in literature, both with writers as well as in the stories they tell. Women need more representation.
Marina Cuesta, a spokesperson for the project
Of course Jane Austen’s novels don’t need to be recast as they’re filled with amazing female protagonists already, but we like the idea of re-imagining some of the classics with a female lead. The bookstore is even recasting the 1873 classic adventure novel Around the World in Eighty Days, which is widely taught in schools across Texas, into The Adventures of Phoebe Fogg in Around the World in 80 Days so schools can offer both male and female versions of the book.
Here are some of the examples of their revamped “Shequels”:
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