Writer Susanne Notman is helping to tell the story of Charles Austen, one of Jane Austen’s brothers who was an officer in the Navy, through her screenplay Our Own Particular Little Brother.
Notman’s screenplay recently won the Gold Remi award at the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, an event which attracts filmmakers from around the world. Notman’s work tells the story in the form of a part-fact, part-fiction script, which sees Charles Austen looking back over his life as he is dying of cholera in the Anglo-Burmese war in 1852. He reviews his time as the officer in command, his marriage to Fanny Palmer (the daughter of Bermuda’s Attorney-General), and his hope to get another command at sea, which effectively condemns he and Fanny to life aboard ship.
Notman’s research began when she met one of Charles Austen’s descendants, Francis Austen, in 1999. Since then she has found lots of information about HMS William (Charles’s ship) through the writing of Henry Wilkinson, who has written widely on Bermuda’s maritime history, and through ship’s logs, Charles’s diaries and letters from Jane Austen.
When Jane was writing to her sister Cassandra, she referred to him as ‘our own particular little brother… doing very well in Bermuda’. He sort of comes into his own in Bermuda.
Notman is currently developing the screenplay into a television series so that she can make room for the story to grow. We hope we’ll get to see Our Own Particular Little Brother grow into an excellent series and, maybe, on a screen near us soon!