Other P&Ps

ppAfter spending last weekend (see the post about Hyde Park) in an atmosphere dedicated to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice – where other B&Bers made use of the 1995 A&E video as well as the 1980 BBC DVD, I felt compelled to track down a copy of the Rintoul/Garvie TV miniseries from 1979/1980 produced by the BBC and aired here on Masterpiece Theatre. Was this what started off my own exploration into the life and works of Austen?? Bet it was! The theme music is oh-so familiar (from an album of Masterpiece Theatre themes now bundled away in a closet, or my own crude off-air tape recording??); the actors are also familiar, either by name or face. A few years younger than Garvie herself, I surely was captivated by this Austen adaptation.

Looking at the Internet Movie Database, we find these versions of Pride & Prejudice; everyone at the B&B wondered what else was out there, but we could not come up with a more definitive list than the usual suspects of 1940, 1980, 1995 and 2005:

1967 (UK; TV); Celia Bannerman as Elizabeth and Lewis Fiander as Mr Darcy. (6 episodes)

1958 (UK; TV); Alan Badel as Darcy and Jane Downs as Elizabeth. (6 episodes)

1952 (UK; TV); Thea Holme (!) is listed as Jane Austen (she wrote a delighful book on Jane Carlyle); Daphne Slater – Elizabeth; Peter Cushing (!) – Darcy (6 episodes); I’d give a lot to see Prunella Scales as Lydia!

1938 (TV???!! ; UK): Curigwen Lewis (Lizzy); Andrew Osborn (Darcy ) (55 minutes – oh my!)

An updating of P&P in 2003: with Lizzy (Kam Heskin) as a college student; Orlando Seale is her ‘Will’ Darcy; the 1940 film; 1980 and 1995 mini series; the newest film (2005), and of course the boisterous Bride & Prejudice, part of which I watched when in England in summer 2007. Don’t think that I’ve forgotten the Bridget Jones series — just not enough room or time to discuss this type of P&P.

In the BBC version, Moray Watson plays Mr Bennet – a familiar face from the likes of Rumpole of the Bailey. Somehow Mrs Bennet (Priscilla Morgan) reminds me of Prunella Scales as Mrs Fawlty, though toned-down. Mr Wickham (Peter Settelen) seemed a face recognized from somewhere: IMDB solved that one: he was Sandy in Flambards, which played here about the same time period as this P&P.

David Rintoul brings a hauteur rarely seen in Darcy — and not out of character. And those long, lingering looks at Lizzy! Charlotte Lucas is oh so right in noticing that this Darcy admires Miss Elizabeth Bennet, almost from the start. (Rintoul is possibly best remembered for his Doctor Finlay series in the 90s.) And Elizabeth Garvie is a quiet, but on-point Elizabeth Bennet. [I hadn’t realized that she lost her husband, actor Anton Rodgers, in December 2007…. he was in so many Britcoms that ran here in Vermont.]

I must agree with one Netflix reviewer who thought this version’s comic characters less over the top than the A&E series. How true: Mr Collins (Malcolm Rennie) is a delight as the silly and long-winded clergyman (can you imagine him in the pulpit???). I’ve yet to experience Judy Parfitts’ Lady Catherine, but have loved her in many shows, including The Jewel in the Crown. Charlotte Lucas (Irene Richard) is the voice of reason here, just as she is in the book. A wise head on those young shoulders (I will blog later on my thoughts that Charlotte at 27 is not quite ‘past it’…). And Lydia (Natalie Ogle) is sweet and flighty without being cloyingly annoying; Mary (Tessa Peake-Jones) is a talented-yet-can’t-really-play-or-sing-well middle sister who here DOES seem rather the obvious (and willing) choice for Mr Collins — she even reads Fordyce’s Sermons!; something Joe Wright and his screenwriter picked up on for their 2005 film. How much more conniving this Miss Bingley (Marsha Fitzalan) seems – you really feel her sticking the knife in. How REAL the characters seem when they are not caricatures.

Coincidently, Deb is also watching this version (actually, she’s comparing it to the 1995 version) — so you will be hearing more about Rintoul, Garvie et al quite soon.

Alistair Cooke’s thoughts on the series can be found in his A DECADE OF MASTERPIECE THEATRE MASTERPIECES (1981). Gosh!! how well I remember buying this large hardcover at Capitol Stationers on Burlington’s Church Street. Such memories… Cooke cattily comments that this series is “so squeakily clean as to suggest at times a doll’s house with doll-like emotions” but he goes on to praise Fay Weldon’s script which “was dramatized, over four careful years”. That care shows in so many lines from the novel expertly utilized. And who doesn’t know Weldon’s own work. Cooke quotes Weldon in a thought-provoking passage — “Miss Weldon explained why Jane Austen appears to many young readers remote and bewildering: ‘Partly because of the way in which it is written, partly because of the subtlety with which she examines the intricacies of human behavior, and mainly because the society she describes has gone forever. She anatomizes a world where women of a certain class can survive only through men…’.” Cooke again: “In all her novels, Jane Austen’s narrator is a dual character: the heroine as participant and the heroine (J.A.?) as onlooker.” A succinct description of Austen’s narrator, which here sides with Lizzy (and changes as Lizzy changes opinions) in how the reader is presented the world contained in the novel. Weldon’s “adaptation demonstrated a fine ear for the spare, exquisite language of the original and a ready talent for taking Jane’s maliciously cheerful view of social pretension.” Cooke goes so far as to say: “Viewers who dislike this Pride and Prejudice do not like Jane Austen”! I end with one Cooke comment that says something few would have dared think: “Dickens, the author-hero of his time, ends most of his romances on a love-dovey note that Jane would have giggled at.” Touché!

8 Feb 2009 update: after reading Joan’s email, I went back to IMDB – looking for Austen-related series and films. There turned up a De Vier dochters Bennet (1961). In German Vier is four, so the same undoubtedly holds for Dutch. So who got axed?? From the cast credits: Kitty!

I love that the 1967 production ‘labeled’ their episodes, thus: Pride (episode one); Proposal (2); Prejudice (3); Elopement (4); and (5) Destiny.

I am most surprised to see a new EMMA in the works! (listed as in pre-production, for television in 2009); the ‘trivia’ lists this a as production begun in 1995 – but put on hold because Miramax and Meridient were producing the same novel for film and TV. No cast announced.

All-Weekend Pride & Prejudice…

It is later-evening and S&S (back on PBS) is playing in the background as I write, but I had to take a few moments to write on the weekend I just spent in Hyde Park (Vermont). It was a Jane Austen Weekend, held at The Governor’s House at Hyde Park, a Bed & Breakfast run by JASNA member Suzanne Boden.

We were an intimate party that gathered Friday night – Wednesday’s foul weather caused a couple cancellations. Myself and three others stayed the entire weekend, participating in all the events: tea, book discussion, and breakfast-quiz.

On Friday night, I talked (rather at length, I’m afraid!) on Georgiana Darcy and the early-nineteenth century lady-artists Mary Yelloly, Diana Sperling, and Lili Cartwright. Given the intimate setting, I passed the books containing the albums of these ladies. Time went so quickly.

On Saturday there was free time in the morning and early afternoon, then a tea which brought such familiar faces as Hope Greenberg, who – as a member of the Burlington Country Dancers – danced at our December Austen Birthday Tea, and her daughter, and JASNA member Debbie Lynde, who came with a friend. Some delicious tea, served with a diverse variety of sandwiches, scones, breads. Suzanne read some excerpts on Tea and serving tea.

Saturday night our B&Bers were joined by an even larger group, and I was happy to meet the Olivers – who joined our JASNA chapter not too long ago. Jim is one of our three male members! Time passed quickly this evening too, and the dinner was extensive and very well received by all. The “book” discussion, of course, included many references to and comments about the Ehle-Firth P&P. One B&Ber watched the entire mini-series over the three days!

Sunday began with a quick muffin & tea/coffee breakfast, but concluded with a lovely brunch. The Austen quiz help point out that so many Jeopardy-type of questions can come out of Austen’s writing! (I never do well on such brain-picking quizzes…).

Have laundry to do, and a work-week to begin – so will log off tonight. But I hope to add some more thoughts in the coming days… stay tuned!

In “the company of well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation!”

This is the time of year for the many Austen Birthday Teas and events, so here is a round-up of happenings in a wide-sweep of the Northeast, starting with our very own Vermont.  


JASNA ~ Vermont

  • Annual Birthday Tea with the Burlington Country Dancers
  • Sunday, December 7, 2008 2-5 pm
  • Champlain College Burlington VT, Hauke Center
  • click here for the full post for information and to RSVP


Jane Austen Weekend at the Governor’s House in Hyde Park, VT

  • Friday – Sunday, December 12 – 14, 2008
  • Friday – Sunday, January 9 – 11, 2009

The Governor’s House in Hyde Park, Vermont is offering several “Persuasion” related Jane Austen Weekends.  Please click here for all the information.  You can sign up for the whole weekend or just take part in one or more of the activities: 

  •   Informal Talk with Coffee and Dessert, Friday, 8:00 p.m.,
  •   Afternoon Tea, Saturday, 3:00 p.m.
  •   Book Discussion and Dinner, Saturday, 7:00 p.m.
  •   Jane Austen Quiz and Sunday Brunch, Sunday, 11:30 a.m.



The Burlington English Country Dancers ~  Nov-Dec schedule:

Friday, November 21, 2008
7:30pm to 9:30pm
Music by Lar Duggan (piano) & Dominique Gagne (flute) of Impropriety
Teaching by Wendy Gilchrist, Martha Kent, Val Medve
Elley-Long Music Center
223 Ethan Allen Ave., Colchester, VT
(in Fort Ethan Allen complex, off Route 15)
$8 ($5 student)

Friday, December 5, 2008
8pm to 10pm
Music by Impropriety
(Lar Duggan on piano, Dominique Gagne on flute, Laura Markowitz on violin, Ana Ruesink on viola)
Teaching by Val Medve
Vermont International Festival
Champlain Valley Expo (Fairgrounds)
Route 15, Essex Junction, VT
Enjoy supper (extra charge), concerts, and great shopping at the festival from 5pm to 8pm.
Combo ticket is $12 ($9 student) & includes all-weekend festival pass PLUS this Friday night dance.
Combo ticket is $5 for our dance series subscribers & includes all-weekend festival pass PLUS this Friday night dance.
Otherwise, dance only is $8 ($5 student) and all-weekend festival pass is $6 — available at door.
Combo ticket is available in advance (at our Nov. 7 & 21 dances or from Val Medve) OR at door.

Friday, December 19, 2008
7:30pm to 9:30pm
Music by Impropriety
(Lar Duggan on piano, Dominique Gagne on flute, Laura Markowitz on violin, Ana Ruesink on viola)
Teaching by Wendy Gilchrist, Martha Kent, Val Medve
Elley-Long Music Center
223 Ethan Allen Ave., Colchester, VT
(in Fort Ethan Allen complex, off Route 15)
$8 ($5 student)



JASNA ~ Massachusetts:

  • Sunday, Nov. 16th, 2 p.m.                
    Marcia Folsom 
    Wheelock College, Brookline Campus, 43 Hawes St.
    Topic: The Privilege of My Profession


  • Sunday, Dec. 14th, 2 p.m.  Jane Austen’s Birthday Celebration
    With The Newton Country Players Wh
    eelock College, Brookline Campus, 43 Hawes Street.   


JASNA ~ Montreal-Quebec:

  • November 17:  regular meeting [Report on the Chicago AGM; discussion of Kipling’s short story “The Janeites”]
  • December 16 (Tuesday):  Annual Birthday Tea
  • Contact:  Elaine Bander ( ebander [at] dawson college [dot] qc [dot] ca )



                                                    JASNA ~ Metropolitan NY:regency-dress

 A Frivolous Distinction, Dress in the Regency Period 

BIRTHDAY MEETING – SUNDAY, DECEMBER 14 at 2:00 p.m.  General Society Library, 20 West 44th Street (between Fifth & Sixth)

The well known designer and fashion historian, Daniel Cole will present an illustrated talk on Regency clothing explaining many of the intriguing mysteries of both women’s and men’s clothing.  What, for example, are half-boots?  Were women’s dresses actually wetted down to make them cling?  Why were knee britches for formal attire and pantaloons for daytime?  These and many other fascinating facts about clothing in Jane Austen’s time will be explored.



JASNA ~ Central New Jersey:

A Jane Austen Christmas Event in Mahwah-12/10

Wednesday, Dec 10 7:00p to 8:30p at Mahwah Public Library, Mahwah, NJ

Join Carolyn Epstein (member of JASNA) for a discussion of how the characters in Jane Austen’s books amused themselves during their social gatherings, the importance of music, word games, and cards, and “an Emma Christmas Eve”
Price: Free, registration required
Phone: (201) 529-7323
Age Suitability: All Ages

Carolyn Epstein teaches at St. Thomas Aquinas College in the English/Writing Department. She is a member of the Jane Austen Society of North America.
Registration necessary beginning November 10th
Event Website



JASNA ~ Eastern Pennsylvania:

Winter Program to celebrate the 233rd anniversary of Jane Austen’s birth by making merry with fellow Janeites, good company and good cooks. What devilish and challenging game awaits us this year? Please join us to delight in each other’s company as we cavort merrily and behave in ways “most profligate and shocking.”

  • Location: Ellerslie at Crosslands, Kennett Square, PA 19348
  • Date: Sunday, December 7, 2008
  • Time: 1:30 PM to 4:00 PM
  • Directions: Follow Route 1, north or south depending upon one’s starting point, to Route 52 north. Turn onto Route 52 north, then follow Route 52 north, until turning onto Route 926 east. OR follow Route 3, east or west depending on one’s starting point, then turn onto Rout 926 west. Turn into Crosslands parking lot from Route 926.
  • Please bring a sweet or savory to share. Coffee and tea will be provided. Another Birthday Basket will be offered. Take a chance!


If there are more events out there in the east, please email me to let me know ~ and Kelly and I send wishes for all to have grand celebrations!