What’s the Jane Austen News this week?
On Saturday (the 9th) we saw the fourteenth Jane Austen Festival in Bath officially opened with the traditional Regency promenade.
The parade began from the front of the Royal Crescent at 11am, and wound its way through the historic streets of Bath, finishing up at the beautiful Parade Gardens where a floral tribute to Jane Austen in this, her bicentenary year, has been on display throughout summer (you can read more about it in previous editions of the Jane Austen News here and here).
The promenade was a big success; the sun was shining and the weather was just ideal! Around 550 people took part in this year’s promenade and, in case you couldn’t be with us, here’s a quick edit of the event.
Curtis Sittenfeld’s Pride and Prejudice adaptation Eligible is getting a pilot.
Sittenfeld published her book back in 2016 as part of the Harper Collins ‘Austen Project’, which sees six famous authors re-writing Jane’s classic novels in a modern setting. Val McDermid rewrote Northanger Abbey, Joanna Trollope did Sense and Sensibility, Alexander McCall Smith took on Emma, and as for Persuasion and Mansfield Park, these are both still yet to be released and the names of the authors taking them on have not yet been announced.
The project has been a real success overall; especially Sittenfeld’s book. Eligible was on the New York Times Bestseller List for many weeks and was hailed as “book of the summer” by the Times. Now it appears that it may also be turned into a new TV series.
Currently ABC are still in the planning stages of the pilot, but the writers have been announced (veteran writers Sherry Cooper Landsman, Jennifer Levin and I. Marlene King) and the pilot has been committed to! When, or if, it will become a full series and available in the UK is still unknown…
The best and most astute twist in Sittenfeld’s retelling is that Darcy’s friend Chip Bingley starred on a reality show that sounds an awful lot like The Bachelor. In the book, it’s called Eligible, hence the title, the themes, etc.
A Cambridge college gave the public a “rare chance” to see the manuscript of Jane Austen’s last unfinished novel, Sanditon, this weekend.
Austen began Sanditon in January 1817, in three separate booklets, the last of which was dated 18 March 1817, just a few months before she died.
The unfinished manuscript of Sanditon was given to King’s College in the 1930s by Jane Austen’s great-niece, Mary Isabella Lefroy. It is said that Lefroy gave the college the manuscript because her sister was married to the college’s 32nd provost, Augustus Austen Leigh, who was also a great-nephew of the author, and also because she was concerned that the manuscript could be sold by relatives after her death.
“It’s one of the few Austen manuscripts around” said King’s College librarian James Clements.
The college also holds one of the few surviving complete letters by Austen, to her publisher James Murray. While the manuscript and letter are no longer on display, they may well be again in the future, as this isn’t the first time the college has put them out for the public to see. Essentially, if you want to see them, watch this space!
Who would have thought that all we really needed in order to make the elegant empire-line dresses of the Regency popular once more, was for the Duchess of Cambridge to give them her royal approval? But, as the public relations team at Kensington Palace has now confirmed, the Duchess is pregnant again and carrying what will be her third child. This will mean a new wardrobe for the Duchess, in which, as we saw with her two previous pregnancies, the empire waistline will likely play a prominent role.
The reason this might mean more of a return to the elegant Regency style in general? Whatever Kate wears tends to become an overnight fashion sensation. In 2015, when Kate wore a black polka dress from Asos, the same dress completely sold out on their website within thirty minutes of the Duchess stepping out of her car. This year the same sell-out trend has continued – even causing websites to crash thanks to the popularity of her outfits.
So, if the pattern continues (and why shouldn’t it?), maybe we’ll see more of a return to the Regency styles thanks to Kate! We can hope anyway.
In a recent interview with Digital Spy, Colin Firth reflected on the jobs he’s enjoyed the most, and while he knows he will forever be Mr Darcy to most, the film he picked as one of his favourites to work on was Mamma Mia; a film version of the ABBA stage musical, in which he played Harry Bright and had plenty of opportunities to don flashy spandex outfits and platform boots!
“I actually really loved [it]. I know that it’s… I saw a journalist actually changed colour when I said that was one of my favourite things I’d done, because I think it doesn’t pass the snob test very easily. But I do think it is incredibly unusual to find a piece of entertainment that hits common ground. Because, frankly, it doesn’t matter what you think of ABBA – you know it.”
(Like the work of Austen maybe….?)
The interview was given in part to promote the Mamma Mia sequel, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!, which will be out next summer.
“My past is coming back… like an acid reflux,” he joked. “I suppose I have to be grateful that I must have done a couple of films that people want to see revived in some way.”
Yes, we at the Jane Austen News could name at least one more of Firth’s performances that we’ll never be tired of seeing! (And we’re sure we’re not alone in that!)
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