“Just an old, little man”

Andrew Davies

That was how screenwriter Andrew Davies described himself in response to the standing ovation that greeted his ascent to the stage podium at the jam-packed JASNA session so many were ecstatic to attend. I think the self-deprecation was genuine–for the most part, but the gimlet gleam in his eye as the applause continued may have revealed how welcome the audience’s denial of such a label truly was. Physically, Mr Davies IS little, not much taller  at all than myself at 5’2″ and he is a bonafide senior citizen, having been born in Wales in 1936. But the appearance of this “old, little man” necessitated the kind of security measures one would not expect to encounter at a Jane Austen conference. One’s JASNA credentials were checked at the door before entry was permitted. You see, there were real threats from the Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South/Wives and Daughters) crowd that they intended to crash the proceedings!

Davies talk was entirely delightful, just what one would hope in terms of inside stories and fond memories of his various film adaptations of the novels we love so well, delivered with an endearing modesty and continued love for each one. I especially appreciated his review of his Sense and Sensibility, which I had placed secondary to Emma Thompson’s version. But as he went through some of the difficulties in bringing that work to screen, illustrating them with clips from the movie, I came to a higher opinion about both his version and the actors in it. Although I will always love Thompson’s version, Davies’ version demands more from it’s actors in it’s subtlety of expression and faithfulness to a more restrained and circumspect portrayal that is likely closer to the manners and conduct of the time and the characters as Austen drew them.

Of the many tidbits of insider information that Mr Davies shared with the audience, here is the first of two I will pass on.

CONTEST!

A copy of Young Master Darcy will be awarded to the name drawn from a hat of the pool of correct answers. Enter by subscribing to my blog and then commenting on this post. Remember to include your email address in your comment/vote. Entries will be taken for two weeks (Nov 1 – 14th) and the winner announced on the 15th.

Which of the following three scenes from Davies’ dramatization of Pride and Prejudice is his personal favorite?  Good luck!

~~Pamela

Elizabeth reads and responds to the letter/Darcy's voice over

Darcy responds to Elizabeth & Georgiana in the Music room

Wet-shirted Darcy startled by Elizabeth's presence at Pemberley

200 Years and Counting

JASNA 2011

I confess that it’s been a few days since getting back from Texas and the General Meeting for 2011 of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA). This year’s GM celebrated the 200th anniversary of the publishing of Sense & Sensibility, the first of Austen’s novels to be made available to the public. It did not do as well as the author had hoped, although it did come to the attention of some prominent individuals of the time. One of those was the ill-fated only child of the Prince Regent and Princess Caroline, the Princess Charlotte, who wrote to a friend that she very much admired and understood Marianne Dashwood, having herself a temperament very much like her.

For those new Janeites and those who have never been to a GM, it is  a total immersion into all things Jane, from the interesting talks on the taking of snuff and tying of cravats to the more scholarly investigations of the philosophy and psychology behind Austen’s characters.

The emporium’s vendors offer Regency clothes and accessories, Austen gifts and tea–yes, the lovely ladies from Bingely’s Teas were again at the Emporium with delightful new flavors and were singled out by a crew from the UK BBC for a video-taped interview as part of their coverage of the conference. Seems the UK is keen to discover more about the American Austen phenomenon.

And finally, the ball offered participants the opportunity to imagine themselves at Meryton’s assembly rooms or Neitherfield’s ball. Not content with only the ball to exhibit, this year many attendees wore their Regency finery during the entire weekend. My favorite presentation of the conference? I’m saving that for my next post!

~Pamela

Lone Star Jane

Four more days until the Jane Austen Society of North American’s Annual General Meeting! This year the AG is in Ft Worth in the Lone Star state of Texas and will focus on the 200th anniversary of the publication of Sense & Sensibility. Wow, 200 years and still conquering hearts all over the world! Jane, you are amazing…and deservedly so!! We, your literary daughters, salute you as a true lone star in the literary night sky.

My husband and I attended our first JASNA meeting several years ago when I was invited to speak at the Boise, ID chapter at their annual tea. What a great experience that was and one we hope to repeat. (Hint, hint!) Last year we went to the AG for the first time, mainly because it was held in Portland, OR, a city within reasonable distance from our home in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We had a great time promoting Wytherngate Press and Susan Kaye’s and Laura Hile’s books in the Emporium. We had to observe the other “doings” from the outside, though. Conference attendance is a bit pricey.

BUT this year we’re swinging for the whole enchilada (a little Tex-Mex lingo since we’ll be in Texas) and attending the meetings as well as setting up the Press in the Emporium. An added benefit is the chance to visit with my family in east Texas and see my grandchildren, as well as celebrate together my mom’s 80th birthday!

If you’re going to the AG, please stop by our Wytherngate Press table and say hi. And…more on the AG as it gets closer.

~Pamela