That’s right, one week to go and Mrs Bennet isn’t the only one struggling with her ‘nerves’! The rest of the cast and I have been working VERY hard over the past few weeks to bring this Austen classic to life and now we are at the final stages. The set is up, the props are being gathered and scripts are being left behind.
Last week we focused on the epilogue; the letters. This scene has been specifically added to our adaptation by our directors after they were inspired by a performance at the Theatre Royal Bath.
A review by Laurel Ann Nattress Imagine eating white soup with Mr. Darcy, roast pork with Miss Bates, or scones with Mr. Collins! Just thinking of those dishes transports me back into the scenes in Jane Austen’s novels and makes me smile. In Dinner with Mr. Darcy, food historian Pen Vogler examines Austen’s use of food in her writing, researches ancient Georgian recipes, converting them for the modern cook. Even though Austen is not known for her descriptive writing, food is an important theme in her stories, speaking for her if you know how to listen. Every time we dine with characters, or food is mentioned, it relays an important fact that Austen wants us to note: wealth and station, poverty and charity, and of course comedy. While poor Mr. Woodhouse frets over wedding cake in Emma, Mr. Bingley offers white soup to his guests at Netherfield Park in Pride and Prejudice, and Aunt Norris lifts the supernumerary jellies after the ball in Mansfield Park, we are offered insights into their characters and their social station. In Austen’s letter she writes to her sister Cassandra about many domestic matters: clothes, social gatherings and food. When she mentions orange wine, apple pie and sponge cake we know it is of importance to her. “I hope you had not a disagreeable evening with Miss Austen and her niece. You know how interesting the purchase of a sponge-cake is to me.” – Jane Austen in a letter to her sister Cassandra, 15 June (more…)
Mary Russell Mitford (16 December 1787 – 10 January 1855), was an English novelist and dramatist. She was born at Alresford, Hampshire. Her place in English literature is as the author of Our Village. This series of sketches of village scenes and vividly drawn characters was based upon life in Three Mile Cross, a hamlet in the parish of Shinfield, near Reading in Berkshire, where she lived. She was the only daughter of Dr George Mitford, or Midford, who spent her mother’s fortune in a few years. Then he spent the greater part of £20,000, which in 1797 Mary, then aged ten, drew as a prize in a lottery. The family lived in large properties in Reading and then Grazeley (in Sulhamstead Abbots parish), but, when the money was all gone, they lived on a small remnant of the doctor’s lost fortune and the proceeds of his daughter’s literary career. He is thought to have inspired Mary with the keen delight in incongruities, the lively sympathy, self-willed vigorous individuality, and the womanly tolerance which inspire so many of her sketches of character. She was devoted to him, refused all holiday invitations because he could not live without her, and worked incessantly for him except when she broke off to read him the sporting newspapers. Later in life she moved from Three Mile Cross to Swallowfield, where she died on 10 January 1855 after being injured in a road accident. She is buried in the village. Her writing has all the (more…)
To Henry Thomas Austen Esqre. Sir I am now availing myself of the Liberty you have frequently honoured me with of dedicating one of my Novels to you. That it is unfinished, I greive; yet fear that from me, it will always remain so; that as far as it is carried, it Should be so trifling and so unworthy of you, is another concern to your obliged humble Servant The Author Messrs Demand & Co–please to pay Jane Austen Spinster the sum of one hundred guineas on account of your Humble Servant. HT Austen. £105.0.0 Letter The first is from Miss Margaret Lesley to Miss Charlotte Lutterell. Lesley-Castle Janry 3d–1792. Brother has just left us. ‘Matilda’ (said he at parting) ‘you and Margaret will I am certain take all the care of my dear little one, that she might have received from an indulgent, an affectionate an amiable Mother.’ Tears rolled down his cheeks as he spoke these words–the remembrance of her, who had so wantonly disgraced the Maternal character and so openly violated the conjugal Duties, prevented his adding anything farther; he embraced his sweet Child and after saluting Matilda and Me hastily broke from us–and seating himself in his Chaise, pursued the road to Aberdeen. Never was there a better young Man! Ah! how little did he deserve the misfortunes he has experienced in the Marriage State. So good a Husband to so bad a Wife! for you know my dear Charlotte that the Worthless Louisa left (more…)
To Miss Cooper COUSIN Conscious of the Charming Character which in every Country, & every Clime in Christendom is Cried Concerning you, with Caution & Care I Commend to your Charitable Criticism this Clever Collection of Curious Comments, which have been Carefully Culled, Collected, & Classed by your Comical Cousin The Author Letter the first From A Mother to her freind My Children begin now to claim all my attention in a different Manner from that in which they have been used to receive it, as they are now arrived at that age when it is necessary for them in some measure to become conversant with the World. My Augusta is 17 & her Sister scarcely a twelve-month younger. I flatter myself that their education has been such as will not disgrace their appearance in the World, & that they will not disgrace their Education, I have every reason to beleive. Indeed, they are sweet Girls. — Sensible yet unaffected — Accomplished yet Easy. — Lively yet Gentle. — As their progress in every thing they have learnt has been always the same, I am willing to forget the difference of age, and to introduce them together into Public. This very Evening is fixed on as their first entrée into life, as we are to drink tea with Mrs. Cope & her Daughter. I am glad that we are to meet no one, for my Girls’ sake, as it would be awkward for them to enter too wide a Circle (more…)
A Letter To Lord Byron by W. H. Auden “… There is one other author in my pack For some time I debated which to write to. Which would least likely send my letter back? But I decided I’d give a fright to Jane Austen if I wrote when I’d no right to, And share in her contempt the dreadful fates Of Crawford, Musgrove, and of Mr. Yates. Then she’s a novelist. I don’t know whether You will agree, but novel writing is A higher art than poetry altogether In my opinion, and success implies Both finer character and faculties Perhaps that’s why real novels are as rare As winter thunder or a polar bear. … I must remember, though, that you were dead Before the four great Russians lived, who brought The art of novel writing to a head; The help of Boots had not been sought. But now the art for which Jane Austen fought, Under the right persuasion bravely warms And is the most prodigious of the forms. She was not an unshockable blue-stocking; If shades remain the characters they were, No doubt she still considers you as shocking. But tell Jane Austen, that is if you dare, How much her novels are beloved down here. She wrote them for posterity, she said; ‘Twas rash, but by posterity she’s read. You could not shock her more than she shocks me; Beside her Joyce seems innocent as grass. It makes me most uncomfortable to see An English spinster (more…)
The style of the letter was much above her expectation. There were not merely no grammatical errors, but as a composition it would not have disgraced a gentleman; the language, though plain, was strong and unaffected, and the sentiments it conveyed very much to the credit of the writer. It was short, but expressed good sense, warm attachment, liberality, propriety, even delicacy of feeling. She paused over it, while Harriet stood anxiously watching for her opinion, with a “Well, well,” and was at last forced to add, “Is it a good letter? or is it too short?” “Yes, indeed, a very good letter,” replied Emma rather slowly — “so good a letter, Harriet, that every thing considered, I think one of his sisters must have helped him. I can hardly imagine the young man whom I saw talking with you the other day could express himself so well, if left quite to his own powers, and yet it is not the style of a woman; no, certainly, it is too strong and concise; not diffuse enough for a woman. No doubt he is a sensible man, and I suppose may have a natural talent for — thinks strongly and clearly — and when he takes a pen in hand, his thoughts naturally find proper words. It is so with some men.” Emma Everyone knows that Emma wrote Harriet’s response to Robert Martin’s proposal letter – but what if someone else wrote Robert’s letter, as well? A great deal of (more…)