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Jane Austen News - Issue 144

What's the Jane Austen News this week? 

A New Film Adaptation of Emma

UK production company Working Title Films is in the early stages of producing a new film adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma. 

The screenplay for the new film is being written by Eleanor Catton (Catton's name may be familiar as she won the 2013 Man Booker Prize with her New Zealand-set novel The Luminaries, which is currently being turned into a TV series by Working Title Television), and this new film of Emma will be the directorial feature debut of American photographer and video director Autumn De Wilde.

Anya Taylor-Joy (pictured above) stars as Emma Woodhouse. In the past she has appeared in Endeavour, and as the lead in the BBC adaptation of Jessie Burton's The Miniaturist.

Details are limited at present, but filming is expected to be underway in the UK next spring.

Austen Was An Early Wellness Guru? The Jane Austen News came across rather an unusual proposition this week. Author Bryan Kozlowski has put forward the suggestion that Jane Austen could be said to be an early advocate of many of the health and wellness beliefs which we have in society today. In his book The Jane Austen Diet (due out in March 2019), Kozlowski looks at the connections between the latest discoveries in the science of eating, exercise, and wellness and the somewhat similar holistic philosophies that Austen wrote about 200 years ago – only with "more elegance and wit." The book has been described as jargon-free, filled with memorable references from Austen's books, and sprinkled with Regency-era recipes. Kozlowski said that he hadn't read any Jane Austen since he was younger, but after seeing the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, he was again hooked. He was also about to turn 30, and was putting on a few pounds. The exercise books he read were the antidote for his "fitness crisis", while Austen's novels were his moral support, and that is when he noticed the similarities. A few of the similarities he noticed were:
  • In Austen's novels, there is no perfect body type. (To quote the character Elinor Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility, "Healthy, happy, handsome bodies come in 'every possible variation of form'".)
  • Many of her characters, which Kozlowski describes as "morning people gone mad," were constantly walking, getting fresh air and embracing nature.
  • Austen's characters walked everywhere and there was usually a social component involved. That philosophy is in line with the American Heart Association.
  • In Mansfield Park, Fanny Price is seen as delicate, nervous, and prone to headaches and depression. Horse riding was deemed essential for keeping her on an even keel.
Although we can see where Kozlowski is coming from, calling Jane Austen a proponent of health and wellness might be a bit too much of stretch for most... It's an argument which is well presented however, and certainly not one we'd heard before.
He's Not Your Man If... Twitter is currently enjoying many “he’s not your man” memes ( a meme based on a dating advice tweet that lists bad attributes before declaring that said attributes make the man who’s described not worthy of your time). People quickly took to the trend and went wild with the framework, leading to some wonderful posts, and quite a few of them had a literary theme! These were some of our favourites.

A New Biography of Anne Lister

This week, while browsing recent book releases, the Jane Austen News came across a biography of a rather extraordinary woman - that of Anne Lister. If you're familiar with a character called "Gentleman Jack" then you may have already heard a little about her. (Incidentally, the BBC are set to broadcast a six-part drama series about her in 2019. Suranne Jones will play Anne Lister.)

Anne Lister was born in 1791 in Halifax. She was gender non-conformist and chose to wear unfashionable black clothes, and unashamedly sported a "downy upper lip". She described herself as a gentleman, and was incredibly popular with ladies as she was a compulsive and accomplished flirt and an expert seducer. Her family seemed to have been remarkably broad-minded for the time, and accepted her ‘odd friendships' with women. She eventually married her neighbour Ann Walker (many think she did this for financial reasons).

Some years after Anne Lister’s death one of her relatives discovered 24 leather-bound volumes of her diaries, and most recently, author Angela Steidele has used them to write about Lister's unusual life and her hidden world of female eroticism in her new book, Gentleman Jack: A Biography of Anne Lister (translated from the German which Angela wrote it in by Katy Derbyshire). It won't be a book for everyone due to its explicit content, but we thought it sounded fascinating.

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