Come to A Jane Austen Weekend in Hyde Park, Vermont!

Get out your quills Janietes! The Governor’s House in Hyde Park Vermont, home to five Jane Austen Weekends each year, has a special on offer! All you need to do is write an elegy, poem or short story…and be all about Jane, and you could qualify for a half-price stay at the Inn.

Governor’s House, Hyde Park, Vermont

This is direct from Suzanne (the Innkeeper):


I’ve been thinking that I should do something to recognize this important year and month for Jane Austen. But it’s been difficult to come up with an appropriate idea, something serious enough for our thoughts of a short life ( December 16, 1775 to July 18, 1817) not to mention the possibility of more books we could love, and yet celebratory enough for the great pleasure she has given so many readers for over 200 years.

This is what I am offering. Anyone who writes an elegy, poem, or very short story appropriate to be shared a Jane Austen weekend here at The Governor’s House may reserve any of the remaining places at weekends this summer at half price. There are rooms available at the Pride and Prejudice weekends August 4 – 6 and September 8 – 10 and one double or single room left for the in character weekend August 11 -13. I hope lots of you will be encouraged to put quill to paper, if not by my offer, then by her inspiration.

Governor’s House in Hyde Park
100 Main Street, Hyde Park, VT

Start writing! Send in your thoughts via email or by post to the Inn (info above) – with your permission, we will publish some of the entries here, all in celebration of Jane Austen…

c2017 Jane Austen in Vermont

Guest Post ~ “Encountering Jane Austen…”

Governors house

My friend Suzanne is the Innkeeper at the Governor’s House in Hyde Park, Vermont, where she four times a year holds Jane Austen Weekends for those of us who like to retreat into the early 19th century for a few days. She also offers an annual In-Character Weekend, where all manner of various Austen characters people the Inn and where one must remain in character for the whole time or risk being evicted… it is all in good fun, what with archery, and fencing, and quill-making and dancing and efforts to make bonnets and turbans , one easily forgets the call of the internet or the chatter of cell phones, and as long as a resident Lady Catherine or Mr. Collins, or a grave General Tilney do not ruin the festivities, one can really get quite lost in it all. One such weekend is coming up August 7-9, 2015 and you can read all about it here: Governor’s House-JA weekends.

But I write here today about Suzanne’s and my Love of London, discovered several years ago, and about which we have yet to stop talking… We have been there together, and alas! separately, and as she was in the UK this spring without me (I am struggling to forgive her…), I here offer a post that Suzanne wrote on her Innkeeper’s blog a few weeks ago about her latest trip and the rather alarming number of encounters she had with Jane Austen! – here is the first paragraph with a link to the rest of the post … a perfect trip for armchair travelers!


Encountering Jane Austen

After a tough Vermont winter and a serious bout of flu what form of R and R would be good before getting back to the 24/7 business of running a small inn? As is so often the case, a little Jane Austen seemed like a good plan. I’d been noticing how amazingly often JA is mentioned in whatever I’m reading, from Mr. Churchill’s Secretary to a serious article in the Economist just last week. So I wondered how many encounters there might be as I did some walking in her part of England and decided to chronicle my adventures. And all I can say now is that it is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen truly is everywhere!

Day 1


Arriving in London after an overnight flight, I immediately set out for a walk. First stop was Hatchard’s, England’s oldest bookshop founded in 1797. JA’s writings were well represented and it’s always a great place to look for guides to Regency London and places with literary ties, but the appeal for me is the list of authors who were also customers. Next stop was the National Portrait Gallery for “Sargent: Portraits of Artists and Friends”, John Singer Sargent’s striking portraits of Monet, Rodin, Robert Louis Stevenson and others, but certainly not JA who’d lived a century earlier. But returning the long way down from the third floor ladies, I came to this wall of JA’s contemporaries surrounding the tiny portrait of her we know so well.

Day 2… Continue reading at Suzanne’s blog here:


You can read more about the In Character Jane Austen Weekend for August 7-9, 2015 here: – it is not too late to sign up to give the performance of your life, Mr. Collins anyone?? and all you closet Mrs. Allens (dare I say Mrs. Norris??) can come and rave about your fashions to your heart’s content…

Showing off the Regency style turbans they made that afternoon in Hope Greenberg’s workshop

Showing off the Regency style turbans they made that afternoon in Hope Greenberg’s workshop


On another note of interest to members of JASNA-Vermont – Suzanne is hosting us at the Governor’s House for an Afternoon Tea on July 26, 2015, from 2-4, where we will hear my good friend Ingrid Graff speak on “A Home of Her Own: Space and Synthesis in Sense and Sensibility.” As a member of JASNA, Suzanne is offering us this Tea at minimal cost to us, $8. / per person – reservations are required, so please email or call – invitations are being emailed later today to all on our JASNA-Vermont mailing list. Hope to see many of you there!

[Images courtesy of Suzanne B. from her Governor’s House website]

c2015 Jane Austen in Vermont

A Jane Austen Weekend! ~ Guest Post by Tess Quinn

Dear Readers, 

As many of you as Jane Austen in Vermont blog readers know, The Governor’s House in Hyde Park, Vermont offers Jane Austen weekends throughout the year (you can visit their website to see upcoming  events). This past August Innkeeper Suzanne B. held another of her annual Character Weekends, wherein participants are to choose an Austen character from any of her works [alas! only one of each character allowed – who could take an entire weekend with not only one but perhaps FIVE of a fawning Mr. Collins! And one chatty Miss Bates is certainly enough ….] and play the role all weekend, through all the various activities of reading, chatting, needlework, writing, eating, dancing, horse adventures, and sport [the likes of archery and fencing!] – perhaps only giving up the role for a few hours of contented sleep!

This year a full-weekend I could not do, so I went for several hours on the Saturday and had the pleasure of chatting with the various characters, practicing a bit of archery, watching fencing matches, eating a sumptuous Regency-era meal, and dancing the night away with Val and Tom of the Burlington Country Dancers.  I came home well-satisfied indeed, and in Jane’s own words,  “[I] smiled & whispered to [myself] ‘This [was] a day well spent.'” 

One of the guests was Tess Quinn, who recently wrote a post on this blog about her experience at the Jane Austen Festival in Louisville – Tess has kindly offered to write another post about her weekend here in Vermont, along with many fine pictures! Thank you Tess for sharing this with us! [and it was great to see you again!]


A fair prospect

How often have Jane Austen readers wished they could experience Regency life as her protagonists do – at least the romanticized notion of it we derive from her books?  I can’t be the only one, or there would not be such a market for the myriad books published that deal with Austen fans, disillusioned with modern society, who suddenly find themselves transplanted in time and place to inhabit the body of an Elizabeth Bennet (e.g. Lost in Austen) or some other early 19th century character – for a day, a month or an eternity.  These books and films appeal because, for a little while, they take us away from mortgage payments and term papers and our children’s math homework; they sweep us off into a world our imaginations sketch as more genteel, more polite, less frenetic – more romantic.

Yes, literary time travel has huge appeal, no matter the book genre or historical era in question.  Readers well versed in Jane Austen’s society as depicted in her books must ‘experience’ the Regency in their imaginations; for as far as I know, a working time travel machine has not yet been perfected.  We cannot practically turn the clock back two hundred years… or can we?

I recently vacationed in Vermont where we came close to doing just that!  The Governor’s House at Hyde Park formed a distinguished setting for a gathering of ladies to come together and experience Jane Austen’s era for themselves—or rather, by adopting the personas of her characters for a few days.  The Governor’s House (formerly belonging to the gentleman who provided its name, and now a bed and breakfast inn) was built in the Victorian era but as a reproduction of a Colonial house.  As such, it reflects both periods in its ambience, yet gives one enough of the ‘feel’ of bygone days to transport one’s mindset to Regency England.

Governor’s House in Hyde Park, Vermont,
the setting for a Jane Austen Character Weekend,
and the whole of the experience was delightful.

We gathered first on Friday evening for introductions, each participant in turn describing something of her background until correctly identified.  Most of the books were represented.  Present were Elizabeth Bennet and her aunt Mrs Gardiner, along with Miss Charlotte Lucas.  Anne Elliot attended in the company of her sister, Mary Musgrove and her friend, Lady Russell; as well as a recently-arrived tenant of Kellynch Hall, Mrs Croft.  Eleanor Tilney appeared quite affable in the absence of her father the General.  And Emma Woodhouse came, being in company with both her former governess, Mrs Weston and her nemesis, Mrs Elton; as well as a most entertaining trio – Miss Jane Fairfax, Miss Bates and the elder Mrs Bates, the latter making her presence felt all the weekend though she uttered not a word.

Lady Russell – Miss Tilney – Mrs Weston

Introductions accomplished, we became friends over refreshments, followed by moving to the card tables for an evening of Whist.  I was grateful to find myself at one of the less competitive tables; we did not play deep, but we laughed deeply.

At the Whist table

As most of us had travelled long that day, we retired after a few rounds, but gathered early on Saturday for breakfast in order to make the most of the day’s activities.  We began with a most excellent fencing master, Vivica Fox, who after providing us some historical information on the sport, led the group through the proper positions and stretching exercises.

Viveca Fox

Throughout the morning, then, Miss Fox gave private lessons to each of us who ventured so boldly.   The moves appear so graceful and natural when one observes accomplished fencers; but after many attempts to combine form, technique and strategy all at once in lunges, parries and ripostes, my best accomplishment was a greater appreciation for the skill and difficulty involved.  I was highly intrigued by my session, however, and would love to continue my training.

While several took advantage of the individualized fencing lessons, others of us moved to the back garden to take up bows for archery.

Archery lessons for Lady Russell and Emma Woodhouse

I am delighted (relieved) to report that a grand time was had by all, the target often was struck, and no dogs were dispatched.

Miss Fairfax, archer

The morning had begun with a fine hot sun which continued throughout our activities; fans and parasols were employed assiduously.  A number of our party, after archery, chose to retire to the shade of a large porch with their books or embroidery, rather than be kept in a continual state of inelegance.

Mary Musgrove driving Judge

But for some, a short journey to a horse farm brought the next adventure: learning to drive a gig!

The head groom very graciously allowed us to assist in harnessing Judge, an extraordinarily gentle animal (one could hardly call him a beast) – although of course, as ladies we would never perform this task for ourselves in the usual manner of things.  We then began by walking Judge around the paddock.  This was to become accustomed to working with him, especially for any of us who were no horsewomen.  Once each had achieved some comfort with the reins, a lovely small carriage was attached and off we went through a park land of varied prospects.  (I must confess that I saw little but the posterior of the horse in my turn, so concerned was I lest I steer poorly and hit a post which might have overturned us.)

Just as we bid adieu to our mount and made to leave, another group from our party arrived for a carriage ride.  We bade them a lovely tour and made our way back to the Governor’s House.  There we enjoyed a light fare set out by our hostess – since we had breakfasted so early – to tide us over until the dinner hour.

The last hours of our morning were passed again in satisfying retirement on the back porch; for as we all know, to sit in the shade on a fine day, and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.  Some ventured to trundle a hoop, or play the Graces.  Most found contentment in a cool libation and the company of clever, well-informed people who had a great deal of conversation – the best company!

Finding shade

Charlotte Lucas

Reading Jane Austen

Lawn Ladies


Quite soon, it seemed, the time came to dress for dinner and we dispersed to don our fashions.

Mrs. Elton in full fashion!

Jane Fairfax – Mrs Bates [there in spirit!] – Miss Bates

Our repast for the evening was a full course, enlivened by so much entertaining discourse and laughter that we all remained at the table right up until the arrival of visitors who had been invited to join us for the hour of tea!   Mr and Mrs Bennet with their daughter Lydia were presented, the latter immediately pronouncing that what the party required for success was… dancing!

Of course, all were amenable to this particular proposal! Immediately, furniture was shifted and carpets rolled and removed, the music struck up and Mrs Bennet, an accomplished English Country Dance caller (sometimes peculiarly addressed as Val Medve), led us through an evening of dances with only a short ‘supper break’ to regain our breath.  Most invigorating, indeed!

When finally the night ended, few I think did not drift into sleep the moment they fell into their beds.


A Turn about the Estate

Sunday dawned as bright and promising as had the previous day.  Following our breakfast, some of the party went off to ride, others for a lengthy turn about the estate (such prospects to enjoy) and still others preferred the sedentary nature of their work in the elegant parlour.   But soon activity called once more.

Walking Ladies

Since letters are the lifeblood of communication in the world we were visiting, we learned to cut our own quill pens and then practice our hand, writing letters on parchment.  No blotting here!  And following this, we employed our fingers in an alternative manner – in learning to tat with yet another master of the art.  I should like to boast of having made the sample you see below; but in truth I had not the talent.  My fingers did not fly through the string with anything like accomplishment.  This is indeed one art in which no excellence can be achieved without constant practice.

Instruction in tatting for Miss Lucas, Mrs Weston, and Emma

Tatting sample

Sunday noon found us gathering around the dining table for the last time together.  A lovely luncheon may have passed serenely but for the introduction of one final pastime, one perhaps not quite of the Regency period but relating to it.  It was a Quiz!  Questions to test our newly-experienced knowledge of Regency life.  Our hostess had gone to some effort to challenge us and had risen admirably to the occasion.  I would like to say we responded in kind; and so I will.  Our answers as a rule, when we discussed them collectively, were creative, humorous, clever and entertaining.  What matter if they were seldom correct?

This capstone event marked the end of our journey to Jane Austen’s time.  When we had laughed our fill, ladies slowly drifted off to supervise the packing of their trunks by their maids.  All ventured fare wells to friends old and new amid the exchange of addresses and promises to post pictures at facebook.  (Whatever can they have meant by such strange speech?)

I retired to my room as I would not leave until the following morning.  There my mind was most agreeably engaged in meditating on the very great pleasure which a gathering of fine characters from the pages of Miss Austen’s novels can bestow.

Emma Woodhouse – Lizzy Bennet

Lady Russell

Mary Musgrove – Charlotte Lucas – Mrs Elton

Miss Bates – Mrs Bates – Miss Fairfax

Miss Tilney – Mrs Croft – Miss Lucas

Sunday morning parlour


About the Author: Tess Quinn (a nom de plume) read Pride and Prejudice years ago at the age of thirteen, and has been hooked on Jane Austen – and Mr Darcy, unsurprisingly – ever since. She has read all the novels multiple times and doesn’t plan to stop any time soon. Some time ago she was introduced to Austen-based fan fiction and, unsatisfied with some of the depictions and approaches, took up her own pen to try to carry on beloved characters in a manner consistent with Miss Austen’s originals. In 2011, her first short story was published in an anthology called A Road to Pemberley. With that encouraging milestone she is hoping shortly to publish another anthology, all her own stories, tentatively titled Pride Revisited. She has two completed P&P based novels (awaiting final edits and a willing publisher); and is nearing completion on her own darling child, a retelling of P&P from Georgiana Darcy’s perspective.

Descending into dinner

Tess, in her lovely evening dress, is on the left; do you agree that Mrs. Elton is looking rather miffed?? – perhaps we have caught her unawares displaying her displeasure at not being first into the dining room …

c2012 Jane Austen in Vermont

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

Last August, the Governor’s House in Hyde Park Vermont hosted an “in character” Jane Austen Weekend.  One of the participants, Tess, who appeared as Miss Darcy, has prepared a delightful video of the weekend, capturing the antics of the likes of Mrs. Croft, Mrs. Elton, Isabella Thorpe, and other various Austen characters as they rode horses, engaged in archery and croquet and needlework, and danced the night away! Here is the video of the fun now on youtube for all to enjoy!

If you would like to take part in this Austen back-in-time adventure this coming year, you can sign up for the upcoming August 10-12, 2012 weekend by visiting the inn’s website here: – Mr. Collins anyone?

Jane Austen Weekends in Vermont ~ It’s All About Emma!

Mark your calendars for the upcoming  Jane Austen Weekends at the Governor’s House in Hyde Park, Vermont  – the new series on Emma starts this weekend, January 27-29, 2012.  Check out the website for more details – if you cannot make the whole weekend, you might like to visit just for the Friday night lecture [this series on Emma will feature Hope Greenberg on fashion in Jane Austen’s time], or tea on Saturday, or brunch on Sunday where your knowledge of Emma will be bravely tested!

Here is the schedule – and note the special ‘in character’ weekend scheduled for August 10-12, 2012 – who might you like to be? – Emma Woodhouse or Miss Bates?? or do you dare to take on Frank Churchill?? Join the fun if you can!


Series 5: Emma

January 27 – 29, 2012

August 3 – 4, 2012

September 7 – 9, 2012

January 11 – 13, 2013

Series 6: Pride and Prejudice

January 25 – 17, 2013
(other dates to be announced)


Special Weekend in Character

August 10 – 12, 2012

Call or E-mail for reservations and / or information:
802 888-6888

 [images from the Governor’s House website, used with permission]

Copyright @2012 Jane Austen in Vermont

A Jane Austen Weekend ~ Spectacular!

“My idea of good company, is the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company.”
[Jane Austen, Persuasion]

Well, just another summer weekend, lounging around in a lovely old Inn – a Victorian reproduction of a Georgian style house – in a sleepy Vermont town surrounded by mountains; being waited on by the Inn’s owner and most excellent cook for lavish breakfasts, a full Afternoon Tea, and a dinner reminiscent of the repast at the Netherfield Ball [lacking ‘white soup’ of course but that is saved for winter gatherings!]; and all this with lively discussions of Jane Austen and Sense & Sensibility late into the evening – Absolutely Perfect!

The Governor’s House in Hyde Park Vermont has been hosting these Jane Austen Weekends for the past few years – I have been to a few of the evening events and have stayed for those weekends where I was speaking – each event is made more special by the participants, people from all over who have found their way, for their very different reasons, to mingle with complete strangers and talk about Jane.  This past weekend brought a full house of fourteen people [sixteen to include Suzanne and me…] –

 *A mother celebrating her 50th birthday, her only wish for her two daughters [one still in high school, the other in college] and her two sisters to share in her love of Austen – none of them [except the Mom!] Austen readers in the least.  After being subjected to a nine-hour car ride listening to a BBC audio of S&S ALL the way, they arrived bleary-eyed and just FULL of S&S, and now I can safely say, all ready to go home to read the book! [love these convert stories!] – they win the “We’ll do anything to keep peace in the family [and this S&S thing isn’t so bad after all]” Award!


*A couple from Minnesota [the husband one of the best sports I have yet to encounter!]  – he created a complete notebook of his wife’s ‘Jane Austen Collection’ – a bibliography of all her books, resources on the Regency period and Austen’s life, and a collection of all the emails received on their Minneapolis Region events – what a gift, a surprise no less! – and he actually really seems to be quite taken with Jane himself – though not so far as appearing in a superfine waistcoat [nor flannel for that matter!], pantaloons and hessians! – hopefully next time! – and his wife, a joy to see another so taken with Austen, re-discovering her, as so many do after the kids have left the house and there is time to reflect and savor – and she is enjoying all the recent sequels [with perhaps the exception of P&P and Zombies, a gift to her, that like me, she cannot quite get beyond that first page!] – they win the “Couples who read Austen together have a finer understanding of Love” Award!


*Another family, “dragged” away for the weekend by the elder Austen-loving daughter, good sports all – her Mother, her Aunt, and her younger sister – all cramming the reading of S&S into their busy lives over the past month [we did discover that those who were still cramming their S&S the night before the quiz, fared far better than those of us who actually have read the thing ten times!] – the Aunt came from a distance so a family reunion of sorts – they win the “Now will you finally believe me when I keep saying how wonderful Austen is” Award! [I think they believe her now…] – AND First Prize in the “Love to dress up in Regency” Award!


[two Austen-quoting friends with Suzanne pouring Tea]

*Two young women who love Austen, can recite most lines from the books AND movies on command [my son can do this with Caddyshack – and my goodness, how much more enjoyable to hear the quotes from Austen!], brought along the sister of one of them whose husband dropped them all off so he could mountain bike Vermont for a few days – they did their knitting and needlepoint and completed the very difficult Jane Austen puzzle in no time at all – [[but alas! the Regency dress made by hand by one of the sisters was not quite finished – she promises to wear it next time!] – they win the “We LOVE Jane Austen and want to shout it to the whole world” Award!


And the conversation? – Suzanne talked about the “lay of the land” during this Regency period – the government, town and village life, domestic life, AND the proper serving of Tea; I spoke on traveling in S&S – the economics, the distances, and the carriages of each of the characters [Willoughby and his curricle getting far too much attention] – and much discussion on who is “sense” and who is “sensibility” and what does “sensibility” mean anyway, and how does the first sentence compare to the opening line of Pride & Prejudice, and a most gruelling but laughter-inducing quiz with fabulous prizes, and of course the MOVIES – so many different opinions on each of the adaptations – Hugh Grant is to die-for to Hugh Grant is a wimp; Colonel Brandon is way cool in his waistcoat to Marianne is quite right to be disgusted with his aches and pains; Mr. Palmer we all agreed is the best of the comic characters, his wife a silly fool and more the pity for him [and Hugh Laurie got well-deserved high marks] – and though it was an S&S weekend, Colin Firth, a.k.a. Mr. Darcy was never far from the table conversation [as is quite proper] and the 2005 rendition causing quite the heated talk – endless chat, not one thought really completed, but certainly all agreeing that a more delightful weekend would be hard to come by!

On a personal note, one always finds at these gatherings how very small the world is – one group from a small town in New Jersey “I would never have heard of” which turned out to be where my college roommate grew up and I had visited it a number of times; and the mother of the other mother-daughter group was in the Army at the same place and same time that my husband and I were in the early 1970s – we were nearly neighbors!

And of course, great kudos and a hearty thank you to Suzanne who runs these weekends so beautifully, bringing so many people from all parts of the country together – new friends found in this resplendent world of Jane Austen – a step back from the 21st century for a few short days that energizes and soothes at the same time  – Jane would approve, I have no doubt  – she was there, after all…

… the Austen-era feeling certainly was helped along with a
leisurely morning carriage ride through the Stowe Vermont woods…

… and letter-writing exercises with quills
[but alas! no Darcy to mend our pens] …

…and mulling over that very difficult quiz!

… and reading up on carriages, bonnets in hand awaiting an outing …


Next up:  

series 3: Sense and Sensibility
Friday evening talk: Making Sense of the Regency World

Friday – Sunday, September 10 – 12, 2010
Friday – Sunday, January 7 – 9, 2011

Click here for more details and here for the Governor’s House website

[Posted by Deb] 

Our Austen Weekend Begins…

It is well past midnight and I should be asleep, for breakfast comes bright and early at 8 am. But – with WiFi in the room I occupy – I just had to log on and chat about this — my third — Jane Austen Weekend at Hyde Park. There are several posts about these Governor’s House Austen weekends, so I will ask you to search for them rather than try to link them for you.

This is our largest group yet (prior weekends were held in January and August), with the book I am covering: Pride and Prejudice. Of course all these active minds engendered MUCH discussion this evening, which makes for a fast ice-breaker. A couple people are lucky — they met last year over Persuasion (at which inn owner Suzanne Boden served as ‘guest lecturer’ for Friday night talks on the British navy; you can join Suzanne for this novel in 2011 [next year the focus is on Sense and Sensibility]) and have come again for a whole new novel and some new experiences. That’s the interesting thing here: this is not the first time I’ve heard people say ‘I made a friend here’.

The weekend opens with my talk (over beverages and dessert), which centers on Georgiana Darcy. We get to discuss Georgiana and her life as we know it (through Austen’s writing), and then extrapolate how a young lady of means might have spent her life by looking at the art work of three ladies.

Our August group seemed to pull a lot of information from one or two pictures of each artist – for we divide into groups to look at samples, then come together again to talk about everyone’s thoughts and ideas. It was interesting, then, in that one group was quite taken with the depiction of children our youngest artist included in her series of pictures; another group noticed the expert use of composition in one or two paintings of our teen artist; and the third group was astonished at the minute detail in depictions of interiors by our third artist.

The group tonight found life as lived at the time more interesting, and critiqued the pictures as artwork much more. They appreciated the ‘story-telling’ of our youngest artist; spotted all the social situations our teen artist had to offer; and thought the interiors were a bit ‘sad’ due to their ‘depopulatedness.’ (One person observed, in the dining room, that the table was set, but there was no one to dine! In August these lived-in but peopleless interiors made me think of the Dennis Sever House; today, tonight, this morning, it makes me think of a Royal Museum I visited in Vienna, where the rooms awaited the arrival of Empress Elisabeth [“Sisi”]). All opinions are valid, and makes clear, from a speaker’s point of view, just how the same pieces of art work strike different people.

I fear I express these thoughts badly – if I do, put it down to tiredness! And much stimulating conversation, before, during and after the talk.

So, content yourselves with ideas of lively discussion; and then talk that turned, as it always does, to books and TV, Austen’s life, England. Suffice it to say, that a pleasant evening was passed.

queen mumI write to you sitting atop a high bed (others may use the steps, but, being tall, I don’t bother with them) in the so-called “English Room“, staring between the posts of this four-poster bed at what has to be a portrait of a young Queen Mother. There is a pair of comfortable wing chairs, set to either side of the fireplace. I can imagine cosy evenings with the snow coming down (though do I use my fireplace at home when the snow tumbles down?? nope…). The tall and wide windows look out on the side lawn as well as the back porch, which beckons with its white wicker furniture. Fall is my favorite time of year – and last week’s harvest moon was just a treat to see. What shall we wake up to? In August, it was a hazy and misty dawn – very similar to that photographed at the end of the 2005 P&P, though – alas – no Mr Darcy appears out of the mist… Maybe next time.

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.