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Showing posts from July, 2008

Jane Austen on Film and the Flete Estate

This is a photo of my daughter enjoying the beach on the Flete Estate. I've just finished writing another Jane Austen Sequel, Mrs Brandon's Invitation, inspired by Sense and Sensibility. I loved the Emma Thompson/Ang Lee adaptation which was made in 1995 and so when I had a special birthday looming on the horizon, I thought I would celebrate it in the house where a lot of the film was shot, at Efford House on the Flete Estate, Holbeton, in Devon. My birthday is in November, but the weather was surprisingly mild and we had a few sunny days which were heavenly. I knew the house would look a little different from the way it looked in the film; its windows were given Georgian proportions and the door was given a canopy and columns, but it was still lovely to walk in the Dashwood sister's footsteps up to the entrance and imagine gorgeous Greg Wise, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman coming to call! Inside, the rooms are recognisable, especially the Dashwood's dining room, which re

Lizzy Bennet, Lakes and Peaks!

This first photo shows a view from an upstairs room at Brantwood where I was lucky enough to stay a few years ago. My husband and I were working on a project to do with the house which was Ruskin's home in his latter years. The lovely window has an incredible view which looks out over Coniston water. Seeing this photo again made me think of Elizabeth Bennet and her travels with the Gardiners. The Lake District was very fashionable for touring parties and in Pride and Prejudice we learn that Elizabeth is looking forward very much to her holiday. But Elizabeth did not manage to get as far as the 'rocks and mountains' of the Lakes. The time fixed for the beginning of their northern tour was now fast approaching, and a fortnight only was wanting of it, when a letter arrived from Mrs. Gardiner, which at once delayed its commencement and curtailed its extent. Mr. Gardiner would be prevented by business from setting out till a fortnight later in July, and must be in London again

Dido Elizabeth Belle

This painting of two young girls depicted at Kenwood House which was their home is of Dido Elizabeth Belle and her half cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray. Dido was born around 1763, the daughter of an African slave and Sir John Lindsay, a Captain in the Royal Navy. Lindsay sent Dido to live with his uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield and Lord Chief Justice of the King's Bench. Lord Mansfield had a sympathetic view toward the abolition of slavery declaring in the Somersett case that slavery was illegal. Dido's role within the household seems to have been as a companion to her cousin. She tended the dairy farm and helped Lord Mansfield with his work as a secretary might. Although she was educated to a level beyond most women of the day and enjoyed a comfortable life, her position in the family was a difficult one, living somewhere between the life of a family member and the servants. Dido was not allowed to join the family when entertaining, except after dinner. Between her

A Review for Lydia Bennet's Story from Foreword Magazine

I came across this article on the net from Foreword Magazine. I was very excited to see the new version of Lydia Bennet's Story given a mention. HAPPILY EVER AFTER? Of writers of classic literature, few are more beloved than Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte. Their witty, mysterious, proud, and strange characters stay with readers like old friends. Indeed, these two authors have such a devoted following that a whole genre exists of sequels and retellings of their novels. Because Austen presents such a narrow view in her novels—she usually focuses the point of view on only one character from a cast of dozens—the possibilities for sequels to her novels are endless. What is life like for Sense and Sensibility’s Eliza, Colonel Brandon’s ward? What kind of adventures does Pride and Prejudice’s Lydia have in Brighton? What happens to the characters after the stories end? These are the questions that a variety of authors seek to answer with the fifteen sequels published by Sourcebooks’ La

A Young Lady dressed as a Redcoat! That's What!

Phoebe Hessel was born in Stepney in 1713. A colourful character in and around Brighton in her later life, she enthralled passers by with her tales of being a soldier in her youth. Phoebe disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the British army to be with her lover Samuel Golding according to the stories told about her. It is believed that she served as a soldier in the West Indies and Gibralter. She and her lover both fought and were wounded in the battle of Fontenoy in 1745. Eventually, she admitted to the Colonel's wife that she was indeed a woman, which led to their being discharged in order for them to marry. They moved to Plymouth where they had nine children, none of whom survived Phoebe. After Golding died, she moved to Brighton to marry Thomas Hessel, a fisherman. After he died, leaving her a widow at 80, she made a living by selling fish. Later Phoebe became something of a celebrity in Brighton amusing people with her tales as she sold oranges, toys and gingerbread on