Jane Austen, Christmas and Emma

2440370A00000578-0-image-a-5_1419436838163Christmas came to my house in the shape of Bleak House and Pride and Prejudice on Blue and rather sumptuous they are too.

Jane Austen is an extraordinary author and the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice along with Sense and Sensibility really gave me a chance to admire her writing, and the skill it takes to bring a story to the screen. With Ms. Austen in mind I came across this which if anyone has the spare funds would look rather good in my small yet rich library!

An untouched and unbound rare first edition of Jane Austen’s Emma is on sale at a collectors bookshop for almost £100,000.

The book is unique because it is in almost pristine condition and was found with the paper boards it would have had before being sent to the binder to bound in leather.

However the novel, which comes in three volumes, escaped the binder and is in almost mint condition.

It is priced at £97,500 and is being sold at Lucius Books in Fossgate in York by owner James Hallgate. It is understood to be the first time the book has been sold.

Mr Hallgate said: ‘This is probably the best copy in the world; it’s in entirely original condition still with the paper boards.

‘Back in those days a customer would buy the book and send it to their binder to be bound in leather. This copy escaped the binder.

‘It’s my favourite piece in the catalogue as it has lasted nearly 200 years in untouched, original condition. There isn’t a single one in the world that will look like that.


Pride and Prejudice (BBC) 2005

Untitled 1Pride and Prejudice, possibly the bench mark of period drama. Written a little before our time (although it is said the Victorian era was a ‘long century’) in 1813.

This 20 year old adaptation is a six-episode BBC drama adapted by Andrew Davies. He explained, “One of the first things that struck me about Pride and Prejudice is that the central motor which drives the story forward is Darcy’s sexual attraction to Elizabeth. He doesn’t particularly like her, he’s appalled by the rest of her family and he fights desperately against this attraction.

_67261500_carriage_bbcWith the superb Jennifer Ehle (Elizabeth Bennet) and Colin Firth (Mr Darcy). BBC One originally broadcast the 55-minute episodes from 24 September to 29 October in 1995.

Pride and Prejudice was critically acclaimed and a hugely popular success. It won several including a BAFTA Television Award for Jennifer Ehle for Best Actress and an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Miniseries or a Special. The role of brooding and handsome Mr Darcy served Colin Firth very well making him a household name and nowadays a star.

lat-20--20m-20pride-20130124212501161054-620x349The casting of Julia Sawahla as the stupid Lydia Bennett was fantastic and she carried off a difficult role so well that in the end you still have to like her for all her faults. The rest of the cast as excellent. You have David Bamber as Mr. Collins was suitably sweaty and snivelling, Alison Steadman as Mrs. Bennett was fantastically highly strung, Adrian Lukis as Wickham (what a cad) and Anna Chancellor’s, Miss. Bingley as a nasty piece of work.

It is gloriously shot with beautiful scenery, colourful period costumes and has a glorious wit running through the story line.

If you haven’t seen where have you been living!!!

Sense and Sensibility (BBC) 2008

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen was her first published work and appeared in 1811 under the pseudonym “A Lady”.

Sense and Sensibility is set in southwest England, London and Kent between 1792 and 1797 which is outside of our Victorian timeline. But Austin is recognised as a precursor to many Victorian writers.

Untitled 1The story portrays the life and loves of the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne. The novel follows the young ladies their loves, romances and heartbreak. The 2008 version is filmed on location in Berkshire, Surrey, Buckinghamshire and Devon. It is directed by John Alexander and produced by Anne Pivcevic.  It has a great cast with Charity Wakefield as Marianne, Hattie Morahan as Elinor, Janet McTeer as Mrs Dashwood along with the excellent David Morrissey. 

The BBC translates the excellent wit and sadness that surrounds the girls lives as much as it did with Pride and Prejudice which is not that surprising when multi-award winning writer Andrew Davies who also wrote Bleak House and Pride and Prejudice.

This is well worth watching and you can read the book here

The World of Jane Austin

Emma (1996)

Ah period drama…love it and yes I accept that Jane Austen is a few years before Queen Victoria took the throne…but I love period drama!

Emma and Mr. Knightley

Emma and Mr. Knightley

Emma Woodhouse in this instance is played by a young Kate Beckinsale (Underworld), in fact the cast are quite familiar with Mark Strong (Green Lantern, John Carter, Robin Hood), Samantha Bond (James Bond, Downton Abbey) and many more.

‘Emma Woodhouse has a rigid sense of propriety as regards matrimonial alliances. Unfortunately she insists on matchmaking for her less forceful friend, Harriet, and so causes her to come to grief. Through the sharp words of Mr. Knightley, and the example of the opinionated Mrs. Elton, someone not unlike herself, Emma’s attitudes begin to soften.'(From IMDB)

Emma is actually a rather spoilt, annoying teenager and Beckinsale is great as her. It is well acted and worth a watch, much better than the Gwenyth Paltrow version which was released in the same year.


Mansfield Park by ITV 2007

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen was written at Chawton Cottage from 1812 – 1814 and was published in July 1814 by Thomas Egerton.

Adaptations are just that…an adaptation and whilst I think when adapting you should have seen give and take sometimes it can just lose the sense of the book and so it is with this adaptation of this somewhat dumbed down and lacklustre Mansfield Park by ITV.

Billy Piper, yes she of Dr Who fame and who I think is quite a good actress plays the adaptations Fanny Price very well but she is not meant to be this running around new age free spirit, tortured as per the book she is not…well no much anyway. This sort of kills it from the off for me…she has more in common with dizzy Lydia Bennet than Fanny Price.

They seem to have forgotten to send Fanny away from Mansfield to her poor home…a rather important point to the plot really.

Edmund played by Blake Ritson was the best out of the bunch to be honest, I found him to be excellent. But the rest of the cast seem to under play their characters or maybe they had been deliberately toned down.

For instance Sir Thomas Bertram was very stern and then he wasn’t. Tom Bertram a gambling drunk just wasn’t really very drunk was he! And Mrs Norris, the mean and officious skinflint of the piece…she wasn’t especially mean was she…I was a little bored about half way through!

All in all a bit of a disappointment.

Sense and Sensibility Audio Drama 2010

This audio drama was first broadcast on BBC Radio 7 between the 6th & 9th April 2010 and directed Vanessa Whitburn.

Jane Austin, a story of romance was published in 1811, is a British  her first published work under the pseudonym of ‘A Lady’, not exactly the best name ever!

This great work of romantic fiction southwest England in 1792 through 1797 and follows the lives and loves of the Dashwood sisters.

We have Ms. Elinor Dashwood (played brilliantly by Jane Leonard) who portrays the prudence and self-control of the time and Ms. Marianne Dashwood who is the flighty emotional younger sibling (played by Abigail McKern). They are the daughters of their father Henry’s second wife, the very nice Mrs. Dashwood

The story itself revolves about the girls establishing themselves and their identity in marrying and the trials and tribulations of finding that partner.

The story follows the young ladies to their new home after the death of their father,  they are to live in a meager cottage on a distant relative’s property in Devonshire. And it is here where Elinor, Marianne and Margaret experience love, romance and heartbreak.

The Dashwood daughters might be well-educated, but they lack sufficient financial wherewithal to prosper in life. Their brother John (David Calder) and sister-in-law Fanny (Auriol Smith) insist that they should marry as soon as possible, as a way of confirming their femininity as well as their own identity after all if they do not marry they are doomed to poverty, spinsterhood and no prospects whatever.

Up pops the cad of the piece Willoughby (played by Robert Gwilym) who appears to be a typical bounder by trifling with women’s affections, he could’ve been played a little meaner but is still played well.

There is the amiable but engaged Edward Ferrers (played by Tim Meates). The Dashwood ladies seem perpetually inhabit the public sphere of parties and family soirées.

Sadly it appears that money not love is of far more importance here

The action in this adaptation revolves more around the sister than John and Fanny who are there but more in the background.

The adaptation is quite true to the novel and the ladies end up with right men

The four episodes were quite simple in direction but very effective and indeed an enjoyable diversion.