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Interviewing The Cast of Sanditon

Interviews with the cast of Sanditon

As the date of the airing of the first episode of Sanditon draws ever nearer (Sunday 25th August, at 9pm on ITV) the cast of Sanditon and the director of the new series have been doing a series of interviews about their thoughts and experiences on bringing this unfinished Jane Austen work to life.

 

An overview of Sanditon

Rose Williams and Theo James, courtesy Red Planet Pictures / ITV 2019, Photographer: Simon Ridgway

The novel begins with a coach accident in which Tom Parker is injured, and the Heywoods, the local gentry, come to help him.

To show their thanks, the Parkers invite the eldest Heywood daughter, Charlotte, to Sanditon. Sanditon is a seaside village which Tom Parker is doing his best to turn into a fashionable spa resort – similar to Brighton; a seaside resort where rules were relaxed and having fun was the ultimate goal.

While in Sanditon, Charlotte meets the formidable financial backer of Parker’s plan to put Sanditon on the map, Lady Denham. Charlotte also encounters the dependants scheming to be Denham’s heir, and various members of the Parker family, including the roguish Sidney…

Thoughts from Andrew Davies, the director of Sanditon

Andrew Davies said that he had used up all his Austen material as early on as halfway through the first episode, which he found briefly daunting, then a liberating wheeze as The Times put it.

Davies had used up all his Austen material by halfway through the first episode, which he found briefly daunting, then a liberating wheeze. Entertainment was the aim. “We just sat around talking and thinking and saying, ‘Dare we do that? Yeah!’” he says, alluding to the furtive sex act the ingénue heroine Charlotte Heywood (Williams) stumbles upon in the first episode. It is a scene that — along with the bared buttocks of male swimmers and, elsewhere, overtones of incest — may have Austen purists reaching for the smelling salts. If Davies has been cavalier, even layering on a 21st-century sensibility, he is unrepentant. “What Austen did was set up a place and establish this wonderful group of characters very clearly, but she never really got the story going at all.”

 

Austen’s first working title was The Brothers. “This idea of a new kind of Jane Austen man had real appeal,” Davies enthuses. “These are not gentleman farmers or landed aristocrats, but businessmen and entrepreneurs. They’re something new, more representative of what the country was going to become in the industrial age.” Sanditon also fascinated Davies, a fan of Love Island, for its “Wild West-like” depiction of a place on the make, a resort trying to attract celebrities and influencers.

From The Times interview.

 

Thoughts from Anne Reid, who plays Lady Denham

On undertaking Austen’s unfinished work:

I think there will be people who say you can’t do it and you shouldn’t have done it, but we’re in the entertainment business and I think people love period dramas don’t they? You just keep your fingers crossed in this business, you can never predict how something will go, ever.

On being on set:

I’m quite difficult to work with. I can get very unpleasant on the set. I’m not very unpleasant I don’t think in life. But that’s when you see the worst side of me.

I can still be put off by a director or I can be thrown by something … It only needs someone to say, ‘I don’t like the way you are doing that’ or ‘Do you not think it a good idea if you do that?’ and I immediately get very thrown because I need to go away and think about it. The young people on this set are quite surprised – they said to me at the beginning that I still have the same problems that they have.

From The Gazette Series interview

 

Thoughts from Leo Suter (young stringer), Rose Williams (Charlotte Heywood) and Kris Marshall (Tom Parker)

Thoughts from Charlotte Spencer (Esther Denham) and Jack Fox (Sir Edward Denham)

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Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

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The Sanditon Trailer is Here!

The new Sanditon trailer is here

We love this newly released Sanditon trailer! We’ve even managed to spot a few nearby locations in the trailer. If you know the nearby Dyrham Park, keep your eyes peeled!

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Worthing as Jane Austen’s Sanditon, Then and Now

Jane Austen's Sanditon inspired by Worthing?

Could Worthing have been the inspiration for Jane Austen’s Sanditon?

by Donna Fletcher Crow

Jane Austen’s connection with Worthing was completely unknown until late in the 20thcentury when Fanny Austen’s diaries came to light and Austen scholar Deidre Le Faye began studying them. Before then, all that was known were the references in Jane’s letters regarding plans to visit Worthing. There was no confirmation, however, that the trip had actually come about, rather, considerable doubt was cast on the likelihood:

24 August 1805 Jane, who was at Godmersham, wrote to Cassandra about their 10-year-old nephew Edward who was ill and not recovering well.  It looked unlikely he would be able to return to school in Winchester with his brothers when term started that autumn, “& he will be of the party to Worthing.__If sea-bathing should be recommended he will be left there with us, but this is not thought likely to happen.”

Six days later she wrote of a new complication: “The journey to London [to visit brother Henry] is a point of the first expediency and I am glad it is resolved on, though it seems likely to injure our Worthing scheme. . . It gives us great pleasure to hear of little Edward’s being better,” he was expected to be able to return to school.

She concludes by saying, “We shall not be at Worthing so soon as we have been used to talk of, shall we? This will be no evil to us, and we are sure of my mother and Martha being happy together.”

Mrs. Austen and their friend Martha Lloyd went ahead of the others to Worthing, staying in Stanford’s Cottage, the house in Warwick Street which still stands today. It was a charming dwelling, whose south-facing bow windows in those days had an uninterrupted view to the sea. Today it is a Pizza Express, but retains some recognizable features of the Austen’s time there, including the bow windows, although the view is extremely limited.

The streets on the north side of the cottage had only recently been upgraded from a farm-track. The view northwards was therefore over fields with a few scattered buildings and the Downs beyond.

Looking for links to Austen and her time there, as I was, the Pizza Express was my first stop. I approached with a certain amount of skepticism, but was given a warm welcome, a delicious lunch and encouraged to enjoy the building.

The walls are covered with collages of Austen quotations, Regency drawings and framed Penguin editions of her books.

I was told that the Jane Austen Society holds a yearly meeting in their upstairs room.

Enjoying the sight of the sun reflecting from the bay windows onto the courtyard, I thought, “They have done well with their heritage.”

Jane Austen arrived in Worthing on Wednesday 18 September 1805 with Cassandra, their brother Edward, his wife Elizabeth, oldest child Fanny and her governess Miss Sharpe. Fanny gives us a detailed record of a day at the resort. They walked on the sands, bought fish on the beach, and bathed “a most delicious dip.” That afternoon they entertained a guest (Miss Fielding, who may have been a relative), dined at 4:00, and in the evening went to the Raffle where Jane won 17 shillings.

The next day Fanny waited for Aunt Cassandra to come out of Wick’s warm baths and walked on the sands again. They went once more to the raffle as well, but apparently none of the party was enriched by the event.

On Sunday morning Fanny attended church with Aunt Jane and others. This was probably at the parish church of St Mary at nearby Broadwater, since there was as yet no church in Worthing.

The Godmersham party left Worthing the next day.

We know that Jane stayed at least 7 weeks in Worthing because on 4 November she witnessed a signature to her mother’s will. The visit may have continued until 1 January 1806 when Jane and Martha Lloyd arrived at Steventon, but there is no certain record since we are not told where they arrived from.

This positive evidence of Jane Austen’s time in Worthing, however, gives the town a considerable boost in the “Discover the Real Sanditon” stakes. In spite of the persuasive claims I presented for Bognor Regis last week, there is no documentation of Jane Austen having ever been there.

Indeed, Jane Austen not only spent considerable time in Worthing, she also seems to have become good friends with Edward Ogle, Worthing’s chief citizen and front-runner among contenders for the model of Tom Parker, Sanditon’s developer.

“Sweet Mr Ogle”, she wrote 8 years after their visit to Worthing, “I dare say he sees all the panoramas for nothing, has free admittance everywhere. He is so delightful! Now you need not see anybody else.” This, in a letter to Cassandra at Godmersham, it seems to be in reply to something Cassandra said to her in a previous letter—perhaps reporting on a letter she had received from Mr. Ogle.

Mr. Ogle’s entrepreneurship makes him a likely model, but not, perhaps his personality. In several readings of Sanditon, “sweet” was never a word I would have applied to the energetic and rather over-bearing Mr. Parker. Although, it’s always possible Jane was making a pun, since Edward Ogle and his brother James were involved in the sugar trade with the West Indies.

One writer explained the references to the panoramas Jane mentions as the splendid views of London from the river, which Ogle was able to see for nothing because he could travel up and down the Thames on his barges whenever he liked.

I take the reference more literally, though, as does Deidre Le Faye, who references Henry Aston Barker’s Panorama in Leicester Square which exhibited views of great cities, of battles, and so forth. LeFaye suggests Ogle may have been a friend of Barker and therefore given free admission. Jane, however, seems to attribute his free entry to his pleasing personality.

In 1801, four years before Jane Austen’s stay in Worthing, Edward Ogle purchased Warwick House and began to build Worthing into a thriving seaside resort. The house had been built in 1781 by the town’s first speculator-developer John Luther. Ogle laid out the gardens and made other improvements. Many believe this was the model for Mr. Parker’s Trafalgar House, although it was not on a hilltop. In the summer of 1807 seven-year-old Princess Charlotte’s stay in Warwick House brought Worthing to national prominence.

At this time Worthing had only a few terraces of lodging-houses and was not much more than a straggling overgrown village, largely reliant on farming and fishing. The only road into the town was essentially a sequence of winding lanes, which were all but impassable in severe weather. There was no drainage, no market, no church, no theatre and indeed no proper modern hotel.

Ogle’s first project was to build the Colonnade, at the corner of Warwick Street and High Street, just across the road from his house. The building consisted of three lodging-houses at the northern end, together with a library at the corner. Libraries were the main social institutions in seaside resorts of the period. As well as reading, they offered opportunities for gossip, gambling, musical entertainment, and shopping—“you can get a Parasol at Whitby’s,” Mr. Parker tells his wife.  The Colonnade Library and its rival, Stafford’s Marine Library, which had opened in 1797, would have been the main meeting-places for visitors to Worthing.

The Austen ladies could choose between the Colonnade Library practically across the street from where they were staying, and Stafford’s Library some two hundred yards away on the seafront. Mr. Parker offers just such a visit to Charlotte Heywood on her first evening in Sanditon right after dinner: “Mr. P. could not be satisfied without an early visit to the Library and the Library Subscription book;”

They had chosen a quiet time. “The Shops were deserted – the Straw Hats and pendant Lace seemed left to their fate both within the House and without, and Mrs. Whitby at the Library was sitting in her inner room, reading one of her own Novels for want of Employment. The List of Subscribers was but commonplace.”

Today’s fully modern library focuses on reading and information, but still offers meeting rooms.

Most importantly, Worthing possessed that prime requirement for a seaside resort—bathing facilities. As we saw in Fanny’s diary, Wick’s warm water baths were patronized by Cassandra, and the sea-bathing was “delicious”. This detail from a print of the time shows Wick’s on the right and bathing machines perched on the left.

Mr. Parker declares Sanditon, “the favourite – for a young and rising bathing-place – certainly the favourite.” “The finest, purest Sea Breeze on the Coast – acknowledged to be so – Excellent Bathing – fine hard Sand – Deep Water ten yards from the Shore – no Mud – no Weeds – no slimey rocks. Never was there a place more palpably designed by Nature for the resort of the Invalid – the very Spot which Thousands seemed in need of!”

Worthing today offers a beautiful seafront with art deco and Italiante buildings, their white and cream stucco gleaming in the sun.

Unlike Mr. Parker’s “fine, hard sand” Worthing has a pebble beach with crashing waves. It made me hope that Jane had a strong dipper to keep her upright in the surf.

Edwardian lampposts and fishermen lined the Victorian pleasure pier. “What do you catch?” I asked.                              “Bass and all sorts, really,” was the reply. It made me think of Fanny Austen buying fish on the beach with her grandmother.

The first theatre, which we know Jane would have enjoyed, wasn’t built in Worthing until two years after her visit. Today Worthing offers two theatres. The Connaught, built 1914, and the Pavilion, built 1926, host theatrical productions, concerts and cinema.

One of the pleasures of a visit to Worthing today is walking in the Steyne Gardens, just west of the former Stanford’s Cottage, running parallel to the footpath Jane and all the Austens would have taken to the shore.

The echoes of Jane Austen and Sanditon are strong in Worthing. Its location on the coast of Sussex, its enthusiastic, charismatic developer, library, sea-bathing, a grand house, lodgings to let . . . the list of similarities is persuasive. Ultimately, though, it’s unlikely that anything could be more real for Jane than the structure in her own head. That’s the resort I most long to visit.

*****

This article about Jane Austen and Dawlish was written by Donna Fletcher Crow, and the article is reproduced here with her permission.

Donna is a novelist of British history, and a traveling researcher who engages people and places from Britain’s past and present – drawing comparisons and contrasts between past and present for today’s reader. Her website can be found here.

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The Cast of Sanditon is Announced

The Jane Austen News looks forward to Sanditon

The Cast of Sanditon is Announced

Continue reading The Cast of Sanditon is Announced

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Jane Austen News – Issue 141

The Jane Austen News is ready for Sanditon!

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Sanditon Just Down The Road!

There’s exciting news for those of us in the South West/Bristol area.

As you probably already know, Andrew Davies, the writer behind behind the likes of the TV adaptations of Pride and Prejudice 1995 and War and Peace has joined the team at Red Planet Pictures who are planning to film a production of Jane’s unfinished novel Sanditon. It’s set to begin filming in Spring 2019, and who it will star is yet to be announced.

Jane Austen managed to write only a fragment of her last novel before she died – but what a fragment! Sanditon tells the story of the transformation of a sleepy fishing village into a fashionable seaside resort, with a spirited young heroine, a couple of entrepreneurial brothers, some dodgy financial dealings, a West Indian heiress, and quite a bit of nude bathing. It’s been a privilege and a thrill for me to develop Sanditon into a TV drama for a modern audience.

Andrew Davies

As it is in it’s early stages of planning, not many details are known as of yet about the intricacies of the plot/script/costumes etc. However, the latest news to emerge from the Red Planet Pictures press team is that Bristol is going to be one of the main filming locations for the production! Exciting news since Bath is only half an hour away!

Specific locations in the Bristol area have not yet been named, but adverts have been spotted online calling for Sanditon filming crew at Bottle Yard Studios (a well-established studio based in Whitchurch on the outer fringes of Bristol). Who knows, perhaps a few of the Centre staff may be able to snag roles as extras!

Sanditon tells the story of the impulsive and spirited Charlotte Heywood, and her volatile relationship with the charming Sidney Parker. When a chance accident takes Charlotte from her rural hometown of Willingden to the up-and-coming coastal resort of Sanditon, it exposes Charlotte to the intrigues and dalliances of a seaside town on the rise, and the characters whose fortunes depend on its commercial success.

This will be the first time that Sanditon will have been brought to a television audience. The Jane Austen News is really looking forward to it.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 126

jane austen news

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 


Sanditon – The Family Saga Coming Soon

Jane Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon is being adapted for television for the first time ever, and at the head of the project is the screenwriter behind the iconic 1995 Pride and Prejudice TV adaptation, Andrew Davies.

On July 10, Polly Hill, ITV’s Head of Drama, announced plans to bring Sanditon to life for television audiences in the U.K. and – good news for American Austen fans – in the U.S.A too. The series will be a collaboration between Red Planet Pictures and Masterpiece on PBS. It will be an eight-part drama and will be based on the eleven chapter fragments author Jane Austen left behind in the manuscript she was working on at the time of her death.

Jane Austen managed to write only a fragment of her last novel before she died – but what a fragment! Sanditon tells the story of the transformation of a sleepy fishing village into a fashionable seaside resort, with a spirited young heroine, a couple of entrepreneurial brothers, some dodgy financial dealings, a West Indian heiress, and quite a bit of nude bathing.

Andrew Davies

There’s no news on which actors might be featured in the series yet, and a release date is also yet to be announced, but filming for Sanditon is expected to begin as early as spring 2019. We can hardly wait!

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 126

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Jane Austen News – Issue 84

The Jane Austen News looks at the promenade

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

A Wonderful Walk Was Had By All

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.


 

A New Pride and Prejudice Pilot Is On The Way

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.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 84

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Jane Austen News – Issue 73

The Jane Austen News watches the new display take shape

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

  Authors On Austen Up For Auction  

Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro and Ian McEwan, among others, have created revealing handwritten homages about Jane Austen in aid of a charity auction which is being held to raise funds for the Royal Society of Literature.

The auction includes Atwood writing on how Austen’s novels “set a bad example”, a new unpublished story by Hilary Mantel based on Pride & Prejudice, Ian McEwan on the “profound influence” of Northanger Abbey on his novel Atonement, Ian Rankin on disliking “stuffy” Jane Austen, and Sarah Waters turning cartoonist for “a good read”.

The auction also includes original works by other prominent authors (including Bath-born Jacqueline Wilson), and an annotated script by Andrew Davies from the BBC’s Pride & Prejudice TV mini-series.

At the Jane Austen News we’re sure the auction will be a huge success with such amazing items up for sale!

I especially liked the scene in which Elizabeth Bennett [sic] stands down Lady de Bourgh. I longed to do the same to my gym teacher, but occasion never offered.

Margaret Atwood


Austen vs. Austin 

It’s an incredibly common mistake – writing Jane’s last name as “Austin” rather than as it ought to be spelt – Austen with an eand it’s a mistake that even those who knew Jane personally made!

A royalty cheque which was paid to Jane from her publisher John Murray following the success of Jane’s novel Emma has shown that he also spelt her name wrong. However, it seems that either Jane didn’t really mind, or the fact that she was actually being given money for her writing was enough to let her gloss over the mistake, as she also signed the back of the £38 (plus 18 shillings and one pence) cheque as “Jane Austin”. According to the Bank of England’s inflation calculator, the sum would be worth about £3400 ($4385) today. We can see why she might have chosen not to complain!

The cheque is on display as part of the Which Jane Austen? exhibition at the Bodleian Library.

Continue reading Jane Austen News – Issue 73

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