The Janeite Times No. 6

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Several Alert Janeites let us know the delightful news that Herself is related to our new favorite heroine, HRH the Duchess of Cambridge, née Catherine Middleton.

Anastasia Harman, a Washington, D.C.-based historian for the family tree-researching Web site, says that Middleton and Austen are eleventh cousins, six times removed. The connective glue between them? A man named Henry Percy, a very distant great grandfather to both women who died back in 1455.

The relationship is through Kate’s father and Jane’s mother.

And, as readers of “Sense and Sensibility” may recall, here’s one more connection: the novel’s Dashwood women, left impoverished and homeless by an inheritance that overlooked them, wind up living in a cottage at Barton Park, the estate of distant relatives who take them in. The name of those distant relatives? Sir John and Lady Middleton.

Alert Janeites will also notice another familiar name in Kate’s family tree…Fairfax! We seem to recall (but can’t find it in a quick Google due to all the KATE AND JANE RELATED ZOMG clutter) reading that Jane Austen is related to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, meaning…Will and Kate are related. Or that if you go back far enough, EVERYONE is related.

Alert Janeite Michelle let us know that last month there was an auction of Debbie Reynolds’ collection of Hollywood film costumes, including several costumes from the 1940 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Items included a dress worn by Ann Rutherford as Lydia Bennet, a tailcoat worn by Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy, and a tailcoat worn by Melville Cooper as Mr. Collins. Michelle tells us that Mr. Darcy’s coat went for $6,500…not sure about the others. Hopefully they all went to good homes.

We enjoyed this article by Rachel Brownstein, author of the new book Why Jane Austen? (of which we hope to have a review soon), celebrating the lesser-known Austen works. No mention of Mr. Tilney, which we find disturbing.

Actress Naomie Harris has an interesting project planned:

What I’d love to do is – I’m totally in love with Jane Austen and have always been in love with Jane Austen, I did my dissertation at university on black people in eighteenth-century Britain – so I’d love to do a Jane Austen-esque film but with black people. There were black people around then when she was writing. I’d love to do that next.

Would you direct it?

No, no, no. I love working with actors but I don’t know anything about camera angles. I wouldn’t have a clue, in that respect. I am working with a friend, Damien Jones, and we have got a script. It’s getting closer and closer.

ZOMG YES PLEASE. There’s a script! Yes! Do this! Not zombies! This is better!!!!

Hartfield is for sale. At least we think that was Hartfield. Wasn’t it?

Feel free to post your own links of interest in the comments!

Can Mr. Darcy ever be rude enough?

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The Los Angeles Times’ Daily Mirror blog takes a look at P&P 1940.

How can you possibly go wrong with Laurence Olivier as Mr. Darcy? The sad truth is that you can. Mr. Darcy isn’t hard to get right, in my opinion — all he has to do is be terribly rude — but most adaptations of “Pride and Prejudice” balk at having the leading man be terribly rude.

Oh, for a truly cranky Cranky McJerkpants! Really, he’s kind of a jerk for the first half of the movie. We’ve never been on board with the “shy Darcy” thing. He’s not a bit awkward or shy. He’s just a jerk. He even admits it at the end.

have been a selfish being all my life, in practice, though not in principle. As a child I was taught what was right, but I was not taught to correct my temper. I was given good principles, but left to follow them in pride and conceit. Unfortunately an only son (for many years an only child), I was spoilt by my parents, who, though good themselves (my father, particularly, all that was benevolent and amiable), allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing; to care for none beyond my own family circle; to think meanly of all the rest of the world; to wish at least to think meanly of their sense and worth compared with my own. Such I was, from eight to eight and twenty; and such I might still have been but for you, dearest, loveliest Elizabeth! What do I not owe you! You taught me a lesson, hard indeed at first, but most advantageous. By you, I was properly humbled.

That “dearest, loveliest Elizabeth” makes up for a lot. A LOT. 🙂

That being said, we agree with the writer that P&P 1940 is flawed but fun.