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Jane Austen News – Issue 159

The Jane Austen News enjoyed this new TED-Ed video

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?


An Animated Lesson on Jane Austen 

This week we came across a wonderful new video on the TED-Ed website.

TED-Ed are original lessons published on the TED website, only instead of an on-stage talk given by a speaker, the Ted-Ed videos feature the words and ideas of educators, that are then brought to life by professional animators.

This video below is given by Iseult Gillespie, who explores the sly societal satire and unique tongue-in-cheek humor of Jane Austen. At the Jane Austen News we thought the video utter charming.


1812 – One of the Worst Years Ever 

Writing for History Extra magazine, Derek Wilson choose to explore some of the worst years in English history this week, and Austen fans may be surprised to read that one of the five worst years which Wilson chose was 1812 – the same year which saw Jane Austen putting the finishing touches to her manuscript of Pride and Prejudice.

Considering how many Austen fans wish that they could have been around during her era, and how much fun many of us get from recreating Regency balls and attending Regency events, it might seem baffling that 1812 was chosen as a “worst year”. Especially given that 1812 was among the likes of the year 1349, when the Black Death was rampant throughout the land, or 1937, which saw fear and extremism reigning ahead of the second World War.

The reasons which Wilson put forward for 1812 being such a bad year were that;

  • The Midlands and much of the North were in revolt thanks to new machines seemingly taking jobs. “Sheer insurrectionary fury has rarely been more widespread in English history,” wrote EP Thompson The Making of the English Working Class.
  • In the previous year George III had finally succumbed to illness and his indolent and unpopular son was vested permanently with full regency powers in February 1812.
  • The country was at war against Napoleon and his forces.
  • On 11 May the prime minister, Spencer Perceval, was shot dead in the lobby of the House of Commons.
  • On 19 June, the United States of America declared war on Britain.

Overall the country in 1812 was “a divided nation. Economic disruption was severe. The cutlers of Sheffield were working at half capacity. In Birmingham, 9,000 factory workers were laid off. There was anarchy at home and debilitating war abroad. The Government was bereft of leadership and the country was at an all-time low.”

That’s certainly a new way of looking at the world in which Pride and Prejudice lived!


Bill Nighy to be Mr Woodhouse

Focus Features has announced Love Actually icon Bill Nighy and Call the Midwife actress Miranda Hart have joined the ensemble of a new film based on Jane Austen’s 1815 novel, Emma.

They will play Mr. Woodhouse and Miss Bates to Anya Taylor-Joy’s depiction of Emma Woodhouse and Johnny Flynn’s George Knightley.

Rounding out the romantic comedy’s cast will be Mia Goth as Harriet Smith, Josh O’Connor as Mr. Elton, Callum Turner as Frank Churchill, Rupert Graves as Mr. Weston, Gemma Whelan as Mrs. Weston, Amber Anderson as Jane Fairfax, and Tanya Reynolds as Mrs. Elton.

Autumn de Wilde is the film’s director, working from a script by Man Booker Prize-winning Canadian-born New Zealand author Eleanor Catton of The Luminaries.

Filming is now underway, with Emma expected to be released in 2020.


The Best Austen Hero Award Goes To… 

This week we came across a list which we’ve often had debates about at the Jane Austen Centre – who is the best hero of the Austen heroes?

Kathleen Keenan, writing for BookRiot.com, has published her own list of the worst and best Austen heroes, and we thought it was very well thought out. Her rules were that to count as a “hero” or love interest, the male character in question must begin one of the novels as a single men, and end the novel either married or engaged. However, Kathleen’s main criterion was is “this man someone you would actually want to be with in real life?” Although his estate and annual income did also play a part in the rankings after this consideration was taken into account.

And in reverse order (worst to best) the Austen heroes hierarchy ran thus:

Mr Wickham

Willoughby

Robert Ferrars

Mr Elton

Mr Collins

Edmund Bertram

Captain Benwick

Henry Crawford

Frank Churchill

Edward Ferrars

Robert Martin

Mr Bingley

Colonel Brandon

Mr Knightley

Mr Darcy

Captain Wentworth

And the number one best hero title was awarded to….

Henry Tilney

Keenan’s reasons for putting Mr Tilney top were that:

Mr. Tilney is the Austen hero who feels most real. Therefore, he wins the prize of “the one you’d actually want to be with in real life.” He’s sarcastic and funny, which makes him quite entertaining in a ballroom, but he’s able to turn on the polite social skills or be serious when necessary. He seems like a great judge of character, but he also enjoys poking fun at people. He likes to read, he’s handsome, he’s smart… Plus, he doesn’t rush into love, and takes his time to get to know Catherine. On a modern and not a Regency-era courtship timeline, that definitely works in his favor.

What do you think? Is that a fair assessment of the heroes? The fact that Robert Martin from Emma is seen as a better partner than Edward Ferrars might cause consternation for some, but all in all, we thought that it was a very good list.


Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

Jane Austen News is our weekly compilation of stories about or related to Austen. Here we will feature a variety of items, including craft tutorials, reviews, news stories, articles and photos from around the world. If you’d like to include your story, please contact us with a press release or summary, along with a link. You can also submit unique articles for publication in our Online Magazine.

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