Who is Jane Austen?
Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, which interpret, critique and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Austen’s plots often explore the dependence of women on marriage in the pursuit of favorable social standing and economic security. Her works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century literary realism.
With the publications of Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815), she achieved success as a published writer. She wrote two additional novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both published posthumously in 1818, and began another, eventually titled Sanditon, but died before its completion. Her novels have rarely been out of print, although they were published anonymously and brought her little fame during her lifetime.
Austen’s novels have resulted in sequels, prequels and adaptations of almost every type, from soft-core pornography to fantasy. From the 19th century, her family members published conclusions to her incomplete novels, and by 2000 there were over 100 printed adaptations. The first dramatic adaptation of Austen was published in 1895, Rosina Filippi’s Duologues and Scenes from the Novels of Jane Austen: Arranged and Adapted for Drawing-Room Performance, and Filippi was also responsible for the first professional stage adaptation, The Bennets (1901).
The first film adaptation was the 1940 MGM production of Pride and Prejudice starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson. BBC television dramatizations since the 1970s have attempted to adhere meticulously to Austen’s plots, characterizations, and settings. From 1995 a large number of Austen adaptations began to appear, with Ang Lee’s film of Sense and Sensibility, for which screenwriter and star Emma Thompson won an Academy Award, and the BBC’s immensely popular TV mini-series Pride and Prejudice, starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. A 2005 British production of Pride and Prejudice, directed by Joe Wright and starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen, was followed in 2007 by ITV’s Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion, and in 2016 by Love & Friendship, a film version of Lady Susan that borrowed the title of Austen’s Love and Friendship. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Austen
November 7st: Evenings of Engagement with Zane N. Zirkle
Zane Zirkle: classical guitarist / Lute and composer have performed in the United States and Europe. Mr. Zirkle brings his unique style of classical guitar arrangements to the forefront of orchestral reductions of works: Styles ranging from Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Wedding Music, Romantic, German Beer songs, Italian songs, Christmas Music, Halloween Music, Cowboy Western Music, Pop, Top Hat 1920s Jazz and Frank Sinatra.
November 13th: High Tea Embroidery
Join us! for a hot cup of tea and cookies while you create your own Embroidery design, based on Jane Austen. Learn the most common and simplest embroidery stitches used to decorate fabric. This program involves hand-stitching, but you don’t have to be an expert to participate. Discus the book “Mansfield Park” and enjoy the company of good friends.
November 14th: Books ‘n’ Bites – Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
The Book Club title for the month is thematically centers on the issue of morality in three different layers of society: the aristocratic Bertrams, the fashionable, city-dwelling Crawfords, and the down-and-out Prices. Although the protagonist, Fanny Price, is merely a poor, shy relation, more than willing to be marginalized by the effusive Bertrams and the sophisticated Crawfords, she surpasses them all through her innate sense of morality and familial duty. Although she loves Edmund Bertram, she keeps her feelings to herself because she realizes he loves Mary Crawford. She refuses to manipulate him into thinking otherwise, even though she herself realizes Mary is manipulative and disingenuous. Furthermore, although she has the opportunity to marry Henry Crawford, she forgoes the chance to be rich and socially elevated in hopes that she will find true love. In the end, Fanny emerges triumphant because she sees those around her for what they truly are. By remaining true to her own values, she wins Edmund’s love, as well as the respect and adoration of everyone at Mansfield Park.
As a poor nine-year-old, Fanny Price comes to live with Lady Bertram and Sir Thomas Bertram at their estate, Mansfield Park. Fanny is ill-treated by her other aunt, Mrs. Norris, and is looked down upon by her cousins: Tom, the eldest, who likes to drink and gamble, and the cruel Maria and Julia, who want to have nothing to do with Fanny because she doesn’t have fashionable clothes. Edmund, the younger Bertram son, who is destined to be a clergyman, is kind to Fanny, and becomes her dearest friend. Fanny spends the rest of her childhood in this luxurious environment, but is constantly reminded of her status. She remains at the beck and call of both of her aunts, knowing full well that if she isn’t obliging, she could very well be thrown out.
In time, Tom Bertram’s gambling debts and wild behavior cause Sir Thomas serious financial troubles. He is forced to leave Mansfield Park for Antigua, where he owns plantations, and must allow another parson, Dr. Grant, to replace Mr. Norris after he dies, instead of holding the parsonage in abeyance for his younger son, Edmund. In his absence, Mary and Henry Crawford, the much younger siblings of Mrs. Grant, arrive from London and take up temporary residence at the parsonage. Henry and Mary are attractive and sophisticated, and quickly become welcome guests at Mansfield Park. Henry flirts openly with the Bertram daughters – Maria, who has just become engaged to the wealthy Mr. Rushworth, and Julia, the younger daughter. Mary becomes interested in Edmund, although she does not realize that he is destined for the clergy. To complicate matters, Fanny comes to realize that over the years she has fallen in love with Edmund. When Tom Bertram returns to Mansfield Park, he brings his friend Yates with him. Tom’s suggestion that the group stage a play that Yates has been yearning to produce is met with great exuberance by all except Edmund and Fanny, who are horrified at the idea of acting because it would not be condoned by Sir Thomas, were he present. Despite their feelings, the production of the scandalous Lovers’ Vows gathers steam. To Fanny’s great relief, Sir Thomas returns from Antigua the day before the play’s debut. He is furious with the improper behavior of his family in his absence, and appreciates Fanny’s objections to the performance.
November 15th: Jane Austen Movie Night – “Mansfield Park” (1999 Adaptation)
Freely adapted from a novel by Jane Austen, this period drama is set in the early 1800s, as a girl named Fanny (Hannah Taylor Gordon) is being raised by loving but desperately poor parents. Wanting a better life for Fanny, they send her away to live with her aunts, high-minded Mrs. Norris (Sheila Gish) and drug-addicted Lady Bertram (Lindsay Duncan), who share an estate called Mansfield Park. Fanny joins the family at Mansfield Park, which includes Lady Bertram’s husband Sir Thomas (Harold Pinter), who made his money in slaves and West Indian plantations; Sir Thomas’s son Tom (James Purefoy), an alcoholic; Tom’s intelligent younger brother Edmund (Jonny Lee Miller); and his two sisters, Julia (Justine Waddell) and Maria (Victoria Hamilton). Fanny soon makes friends with Edmund, though she’s shown little respect by the rest of the family. In time, Fanny grows to adulthood (now played by Frances O’Connor) and gains skill and poise as a horsewoman while developing her skills as an author. When the stylish but secretive siblings Henry and Mary Crawford (Alassandro Nivola and Embeth Davidtz) arrive at Mansfield Park, romantic sparks begin to fly; the two sisters fight over Henry, while Mary is soon engaged to wed Edmund — to the disappointment of Fanny, who has fallen in love with him.
Jane Austen in Children’s Books
A selection of child friendly books and crafts related to our Month of Austen will be available during regularly scheduled story times. If you cannot attend a story time this month, you may wish to borrow one of these books for enjoyment at home or on the road. Just click on the book cover for location (or digital access) information.
Tween, Teens, and Young Adults
Jane Austen’s heroines are smart, independent, sarcastic, and witty. There are hundreds of spinoffs, adaptations, prequels, sequels, movies, and graphic novels. If you’re looking for a fun new way to experience Austen, click on the covers below, visit the Good Reads Young Adult Austen list, or ask for additional ideas at the library’s Service Desk (there’s a flowchart in the Galleria that might help too!)