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Jane Austen News – Issue 142

The Jane Austen News looks at The Watsons

What’s the Jane Austen News this week? 

Willoughby on Sense and Sensibility

In an article published in The Telegraph, this week we were surprised to find out that in his youth, Greg Wise (aka John Willoughby from the 1995 film of Sense and Sensibility) came close to giving up acting, which would have meant that he would never have met the love of his life, Dame Emma Thompson (who played Elinor Dashwood in the 1995 film, as well as writing the screenplay for it)!

The work I’m paid to do as an actor is really play. An awful lot of people who work in any form of arts have to have a childlike quality. A lot of us are quite childish as well.  


My parents wanted me to get a degree, so I studied architecture in Edinburgh for three years first. Although I never really wanted to be an architect, I’m thrilled I did it. I think everyone should do a year of architecture; it opens your eyes up to what is mainly really shoddy design.


Early in my final year I auditioned for drama school and ended up moving to Glasgow. I didn’t start earning until I was 25 – then after 18 months I decided to retire from acting. My closest friend, Simon, had drowned. I remember sitting opposite my agent, who was in tears, as I said I was giving up. I took myself off to Australia for six months and got my head together. I came back and I’ve loved working since.


I’ve never worked a great deal. It’s not been a career so much as a series of choices that you make for the best reasons at the time. Although if I don’t say Sense and Sensibility [written by and starring Emma Thompson, Wise’s wife] stands out in my career, I’ll get divorced. That was an amazing piece of work and I met the love of my life. I wasn’t paid very much, though.

We enjoyed reading a little bit more about Greg Wise and his changing relationship with acting, so we hope you did too.

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Jane Austen News – Issue 106

The Jane Austen News is the Watsons and curlingWhat’s the Jane Austen News from Bath this week?  The Latest Olympic Sport – Jane Austen Curling Well here’s one we at the Jane Austen News never thought we’d see! A theatre company who are currently performing a stage adaptation of Sense and Sensibility at the Arvada Center in Colarado have gone viral with their latest video. Without breaking character, the cast pushes each other in rolling chairs trying to be the one ‘closest to the eligible bachelor’… The video has been shared over 3,500 times!   Controversy Over Church Commemoration A church in Adlestrop in Gloucestershire, England (Adlestrop being a village which is thought to have inspired features of some of Jane Austen’s works), is currently being met with controversy. Plans are afoot to introduce a new plaque into the church, dedicated to a woman who is not a member of the Leigh family, and who is a “relative newcomer” in the area. Since the 16th century, the Leigh family, Austen’s wealthy relatives on her mother’s side, had owned Adlestrop Park, the great house which is thought to have inspired Sotherton Court, an estate owned by the character James Rushworth in her novel Mansfield Park. Now it is owned by the Collins family – the relative newcomers. It has to be said that “relative” is the appropriate term, as the Collins family, whose coat of arms it is that is being proposed as the new addition, have lived in the area since at least 1974. Dominic Collins and his (more…)
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The Watsons/ Emma Watson by Joan Aiken

The Watsons/ Emma Watson by Joan AikenThe Watsons/ Emma Watson by Joan Aiken I confess: I had not read The Watsons before reading this edition and Aiken’s take on it. It felt very odd to be reading something of Jane Austen’s that was not as dear and familiar to me as the six completed novels are. The Watsons begins with Emma Watson, newly returned to her family home, after living with a beloved aunt for 14 years, and being taken by her eldest sister Elizabeth to a nearby village, where she will stay the night with the Edwards family and attend her first ball. Emma’s family is rather poor, her father is often ill, and she doesn’t really know any of them, brothers Robert and Sam or sisters Elizabeth, Penelope, and Margaret. After the death of her mother, Emma had been sent to live with an aunt, who taught her fine manners and appreciation for nicer things. As they travel to the ball, Elizabeth tells Emma about their sisters and some of the people she will undoubtedly be meeting at the ball, including the dashing and (possibly) dangerous Tom Musgrave who is “a young man of very good fortune, quite independent, and remarkably agreeable, a universal favourite wherever he goes. Most of the girls hereabouts are in love with him, or have been”. Apparently their sister Penelope was hoping he would look her way, but she’s a bit troublesome (having encouraged Elizabeth’s love to marry elsewhere in the past). Elizabeth hopes Tom dances with Emma, but (more…)
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The Watsons by Jane Austen

The Watsons by Jane AustenThe Watsons – An unfinished novel by Jane Austen This novel fragment was begun by Jane Austen somewhere in 1803-1805. It is unclear why she never finished it, though she clearly had intentions to. It was not published until 1871, and then, as part of James Edward Austen-Leigh’s Memoir (Jane Austen had left it untitled; the title “The Watsons” was provided by Austen-Leigh). The first winter assembly in the town of D. in Surrey was to be held on Tuesday, October 13th and it was generally expected to be a very good one. A long list of county families was confidently run over as sure of attending, and sanguine hopes were entertained that the Osbornes themselves would be there. The Edwards’ invitation to the Watsons followed, of course. The Edwards were people of fortune, who lived in the town and kept their coach. The Watsons inhabited a village about three miles distant, were poor, and had no close carriage; and ever since there had been balls in the place, the former were accustomed to invite the latter to dress, dine, and sleep at their house on every monthly return throughout the winter. On the present occasion, as only two of Mr. Watson’s children were at home, and one was always necessary as companion to himself, for he was sickly and had lost his wife, one only could profit by the kindness of their friends. Miss Emma Watson, who was very recently returned to her family from the care of an (more…)
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