I first read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ when I was sixteen, and was instantly smitten. I fell in love with Jane Austen’s writing, and my passion for her works endures; I never seem to tire of them. I studied English Literature at Southampton University, and wrote my final year thesis on Austen’s work, for which I received a First Class Honours degree.
|Pride and Prejudice-illustrated by Liz Monahan|
Could you tell us something about yourself and your work. When did you decide that illustration was something you’d like to do for a career?
|Lizzy Bennet and Miss Bingley - copyright Liz Monahan|
What is next for you?
I’d like to illustrate all of Austen’s novels, so I’m steeling myself for my next big project, which will be ‘Mansfield Park’, for its bicentenary in 2014. I’ve done a few preparatory sketches, which I hope to post on Twitter, to gauge the reaction. I plan to follow it with ‘Emma’ in 2015 and ‘Persuasion’ in 2017. ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘Northanger Abbey’ will hopefully appear in 2016, but by then I might need to have a lie down in a darkened room! I’ve learnt so much from the experience of self-publishing Pride and Prejudice, and it’s been incredibly hard work but hugely satisfying. I’d also like to illustrate Jane’s lesser known work ‘The History of England’, written in 1791, when she was just sixteen, and illustrated by her sister Cassandra. I am also working on a children’s story with my husband, who has a way with words, featuring our beloved greyhound Mister Bingley, as detective Shylock Bones, assisted by his dim-witted sidekick Doctor Flotsam.
|Lady Catherine de Burgh and Lizzy - copyright Liz Monahan|
Oh, that is such a difficult question to answer. It’s so hard to pick a favourite! I like drawing those characters that offer a supporting role in the story. They are easier to draw because they carry less ‘baggage’. I spent a lot of time researching the book, trying to decide how the characters could and should look. Jane Austen gives very little away in terms of her characters’ physical appearance, which offers plenty of scope to freely interpret them. I was acutely aware that everyone has their own ‘take’ on Elizabeth and Darcy – it was important that I got them right! My husband is forever reminding me of the old saying (that we keep stuck on the fridge). It reads: ‘I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure - which is: try to please everybody’. After a lot of worrying (and a lot of preparatory sketching), I decided ‘to please myself’ with my own personal vision of the characters, the one I had formed on first reading the book when I was sixteen. I hope others will enjoy my interpretation, and understand that it was a labour of unconditional love.
|Liz Monahan and Mr Bingley|