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!
She may not be the actress who instantly springs to everyone’s minds when the subject of Lizzy Bennet being portrayed on screen comes up (and with Austen fans, that topic comes up a lot!), but for some she is the first and foremost onscreen Lizzy Bennet.
Keira Knightley, who played Lizzy Bennet in the 2005 film production of Pride and Prejudice directed by Joe Wright (a role for which she recieved her first Best Actress Oscar nomination), has just been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s 2018 Birthday Honours. She has been awarded the OBE for her services to drama and charity – she has been the face of an Amnesty International human rights campaign and has also partnered with Oxfam, Women’s Aid, WaterAid, Comic Relief and Unicef.
Our congratulations to Miss Knightley! A well-deserved award!
Number 16 New Street (a Georgian house museum in St Helier, Jersey) is looking for donations for its Georgian doll’s house.
As you can see the doll’s house is looking rather sparse at the moment and in need of a more Georgian style of family and furniture. Jersey National Trust are hoping that it will be filled over time with furniture more in-keeping with the exterior. The Trust say they would love to hear from anyone who would like to donate suitable period furniture. Anyone interested can contact the Trust via email@example.com
Novelist Helen Warner made a curious comparison this week. As the ITV hit show Love Island returned to screens in recent days, Warner has said that the cult dating show, which is seen as low-brow “junk” TV by some, isn’t that different to the classic works of Jane Austen.
Jane Austen’s novels and Love Island are essentially the same thing; popular entertainment with the sole premise of following a number of couples on their path to finding love.
We can’t help but feel that this is over-simplifying Austen’s works however. After all, more than one or two people have pointed out that her books are far more than just early boy-meets-girl stories. Northanger Abbey, to look at just one of her novels, is most definitely a satire on the early Gothic novel genre.
Having said that, if you’d like to read about the ways in which Love Island has been said to resemble Pride and Prejudice, you can find the comparisons here.
Like Love Island, Austen’s novels take place in a confined society where there’s not much else to do except gossip, dance and chase members of the opposite sex, so any secret liaisons don’t stay secret for very long.
Philandering players like John Willoughby, George Wickham, and Henry Crawford are always exposed in the end.
The city of Reading has finally seen its three-year Abbey restoration project completed. We mention this in the Jane Austen News because part of the project has been to see the Abbey Gateway restored, and this is one of the places where a young Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra attended school for a time.
Sadly the Abbey Gateway schoolroom doesn’t look like the setting Jane would have known (it’s been restored to become the home of the Victorian Schoolroom experience, rather than as a Georgian schoolroom), but nevertheless it’s lovely to know that this historic building with ties to the Austen family has been successfully preserved for future generations.
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