Jane Austen in popular culture

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Jane Austen's "power" in Hollywood cinema parodied in Entertainment Weekly.

The author Jane Austen, as well as her works, have been represented in popular culture in a variety of forms.

Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817) was an English novelist whose social commentary and masterly use of both free indirect speech and irony eventually made her one of the most influential and honoured novelists in English literature. In popular culture, Austen's novels and her personal life have been adapted into film, television, and theatre, with adaptations varying greatly in their faithfulness to the original.

Books and scripts that use the general storyline of Austen's novels but change or otherwise modernise the story also became popular at the end of the 20th century. For example, Clueless (1995), Amy Heckerling's updated version of Emma, which takes place in Beverly Hills, became a cultural phenomenon and spawned its own television series.[1]

As a character[edit]

Film and television[edit]

In 2007, Anne Hathaway starred as Austen in Becoming Jane.[2] Based on the biography Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Hunter Spence,[3] the film centred on Jane Austen's early life, her development as an author, and the posited romantic relationship with Thomas Langlois Lefroy (James McAvoy).[2]

Miss Austen Regrets, a television movie starring Olivia Williams as Jane Austen, was released in the same year. Based on Austen's surviving letters, the semi-biographical television movie focused on the last few years of Jane Austen's life as she looked back on her life and loves and helped her favourite niece, Fanny Knight (Imogen Poots), find a husband.

Theatre[edit]

JANE, the musical debuted in June 2006 in the West Midlands, England. It is a West-End style musical theatre production based on the life of Jane Austen. The musical, directed by Geetika Lizardi, focuses on Austen as a modern heroine, a woman who chose art and integrity over the security of a loveless marriage.

Literature[edit]

Jane Austen features as an amateur sleuth in Stephanie Barron's Jane Austen series of historical mystery novels.

Kate Beaton, cartoonist of webcomic Hark! A Vagrant, devoted one of her comic strips to Jane Austen.[4]

Video Games[edit]

Jane Austen (voiced by Eden Riegel) is revealed as the narrator of 2013's Saints Row IV in a bonus cutscene, and the game's antagonist Zinyak reads the first chapter of Pride and Prejudice on an in-game radio station. Both the protagonist (the leader of the 3rd Street Saints) and the game alien antagonist Zinyak are depicted as fans of Austen's work. She appears as a figure in How the Saints Save Christmas DLC and Saints Row IV standalone expansion, Saints Row: Gat out of Hell.


Sense and Sensibility (1811)[edit]

Film and television[edit]

Year Adaptation Elinor Dashwood Marianne Dashwood Director Screenwriter Reference Notes
1971 Sense and Sensibility
Television Miniseries
Joanna David Ciaran Madden David Giles Denis Constanduros
1981 Sense and Sensibility
Television Miniseries
Irene Richard Tracey Childs Rodney Bennett Alexander Baron
1995 Sense and Sensibility
Feature Film
Emma Thompson Kate Winslet Ang Lee Emma Thompson [5]
2008 Sense and Sensibility
Television Miniseries
Hattie Morahan Charity Wakefield John Alexander Andrew Davies [6]

Looser adaptations[edit]

Other references[edit]


Pride and Prejudice (1813)[edit]

This section lists film, theatre, and television adaptations only.
For literary adaptations, see: List of literary adaptations of Pride and Prejudice.

Film and television[edit]

Year Adaptation Elizabeth Bennet Fitzwilliam Darcy Director Screenwriter Reference Notes
1938 Pride and Prejudice Curigwen Lewis Andrew Osborn Michael Barry
1940 Pride and Prejudice
Feature film
Greer Garson Laurence Olivier Robert Z. Leonard Aldous Huxley
Helen Jerome
Jane Murfin
1952 Pride and Prejudice
Television miniseries
Daphne Slater Peter Cushing Campbell Logan Cedric Wallis
1957 Orgoglio e pregiudizio
Television miniseries
Virna Lisi Franco Volpi Daniele D'Anza Edoardo Anton An adaptation in Italian.
1958 Pride and Prejudice
Television miniseries
Jane Downs Alan Badel Cedric Wallis This TV series is believed to be lost; no known copies exist.
1961 De vier dochters Bennet
Television miniseries
Lies Franken Ramses Shaffy Cedric Wallis
Lo van Hensbergen
An adaptation in Dutch.
1967 Pride and Prejudice
Television miniseries
Celia Bannerman Lewis Fiander Joan Craft Nemone Lethbridge
1980 Pride and Prejudice
Television miniseries
Elizabeth Garvie David Rintoul Cyril Coke Fay Weldon
1995 Pride and Prejudice
Television miniseries
Jennifer Ehle Colin Firth Simon Langton Andrew Davies
2004 Bride & Prejudice
Feature film
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
(Lalita Bakshi)
Martin Henderson (William "Will" Darcy) Gurinder Chadha Gurinder Chadha
Paul Mayeda Berges
2005 Pride & Prejudice
Feature film
Keira Knightley Matthew Macfadyen Joe Wright Deborah Moggach

Looser adaptations[edit]

Other references[edit]

  • In the episode "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid" of Futurama, Fry follows the leader of the brainspawn into several books, including Pride and Prejudice, where Fry is in attendance at a ball where the brain is introduced as the most eligible bachelor.

Theatre[edit]

  • Pride and Prejudice (1935), a Broadway play, and the basis for the 1940 film
  • First Impressions (1959), Broadway musical version of Pride and Prejudice
  • Pride and Prejudice, a straight play version by Jon Jory
  • Pride and Prejudice (1995), a musical by Bernard J. Taylor
  • I Love You Because, a musical set in modern-day New York
  • Pride and Prejudice (forthcoming, 2013), Simon Reade's stage adaptation to be performed at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre
  • Pride & Prejudice (2013), an opera by Guy Withers, premièred by Cardiff University Operatic Society[13]


Mansfield Park (1814)[edit]

Film and television[edit]

Year Adaptation Fanny Price Edmund Bertram Director Screenwriter Reference Notes
1983 Mansfield Park
Television miniseries
Sylvestra Le Touzel Nicholas Farrell David Giles Kenneth Taylor
1999 Mansfield Park
Feature Film
Frances O'Connor Jonny Lee Miller Patricia Rozema Patricia Rozema
2007 Mansfield Park
Television Movie
Billie Piper Blake Ritson Iain B. MacDonald Maggie Wadey

Looser adaptations[edit]

  • Metropolitan (1990), directed by Whit Stillman, was a loose adaptation[citation needed] set in modern-day Manhattan and Long Island. (Jane Austen is also mentioned throughout the film.)
  • Ruby in Paradise (1993), directed by Victor Nuñez, is a homage[14] to Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.
  • From Mansfield With Love (2014), a YouTube Vlog adaptation of Mansfield Park by Foot in the Door Theatre. Telling the story of Frankie Price a modern employee of Mansfield Park Hotel who communicates with her brother in the Navy through videos. The series began in December 2014 and runs until November 2015.

Theatre[edit]


Emma (1815)[edit]

Film and television[edit]

Year Adaptation Emma Woodhouse George Knightley Director Screenwriter Reference Notes
1948 Emma
Feature film
Judy Campbell Ralph Michael Michael Barry Judy Campbell
1960 Emma
Television miniseries
Diana Fairfax Paul Daneman Campbell Logan Vincent Tilsley
1972 Emma
Television miniseries
Doran Godwin John Carson John Glenister Denis Constanduros
1996 Emma
Feature film
Gwyneth Paltrow Jeremy Northam Douglas McGrath Douglas McGrath
1996 Emma
Television movie
Kate Beckinsale Mark Strong Diarmuid Lawrence Andrew Davies
2009 Emma
Television miniseries
Romola Garai Jonny Lee Miller Jim O'Hanlon Sandy Welch

Looser adaptations[edit]

  • Clueless (1995), a modernisation of the novel set in a Beverly Hills high school. The film was directed by Amy Heckerling and stars Alicia Silverstone.
  • Clueless (1996), a TV show based on the 1995 film.
  • Aisha (2010) is a Hindi-language film set in Delhi; it is a modern version of Emma, based on the film Clueless. The film was directed by Rajshree Ojha and stars Sonam Kapoor.
  • Emma Approved (2013–2014), an Emmy-winning YouTube adaptation in which Emma Woodhouse (Joanna Sotomura) is a matchmaker who documents her ventures into the matchmaking business with her assistant Harriet Smith (Dayeanne Hutton) and confidant Alex Knightley (Brent Bailey).


Northanger Abbey (1817)[edit]

Film and television[edit]

Year Adaptation Catherine Morland Henry Tilney Director Screenwriter Reference Notes
1986 Northanger Abbey
Television Film
Katharine Schlesinger Peter Firth Giles Foster Maggie Wadey
2007 Northanger Abbey
Television Film
Felicity Jones J. J. Feild Jon Jones Andrew Davies

Looser adaptations[edit]

  • "Pup Fiction" (1998), an episode of the children's television series Wishbone, is based on Northanger Abbey. Wishbone plays the role of Henry Tilney, and Amy Acker guest starred as Catherine Moreland.


Persuasion (1817)[edit]

Film and television[edit]

Year Adaptation Anne Elliot Capt. Frederick Wentworth Director Screenwriter Reference Notes
1960 Persuasion
Television Miniseries
Daphne Slater Paul Daneman Campbell Logan Barbara Burnham
Michael Voysey
This TV series is believed to be lost; no known copies exist
1971 Persuasion
Television Miniseries
Ann Firbank Bryan Marshall Howard Baker Julian Mitchell
1995 Persuasion
Television Film
Amanda Root Ciarán Hinds Roger Michell Nick Dear Originally a Television movie, it was released in US theatres by Sony Pictures Classics.
2007 Persuasion
Television Film
Sally Hawkins Rupert Penry-Jones Adrian Shergold Simon Burke


Sanditon (1817/1925)[edit]

Film and television[edit]

None

Looser adaptations[edit]

  • Welcome To Sanditon (2013), starring Allison Paige, is a modernisation of the unfinished novel that is set in the fictitious town of Sanditon, California. The web series is a spin-off of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries created by Hank Green and Bernie Su.


Lady Susan (1871)[edit]

Film and television[edit]

Year Adaptation Lady Susan Alicia Johnson Director Screenwriter Reference Notes
2016 Love & Friendship
Feature film
Kate Beckinsale Chloë Sevigny Whit Stillman Whit Stillman


Other references[edit]

In 1994, American literary critic Harold Bloom placed Austen among the greatest Western Writers of all time.[17] In a 2002 poll to determine whom the UK public considers the greatest British people in history, Austen was ranked number 70 in the list of the "100 Greatest Britons".[18] In 2003, Austen's Pride and Prejudice came second in the BBC's The Big Read, a national poll to find the "Nation's best-loved book."[19]

In 2007, the article Rejecting Jane by British author David Lassman, which examined how Austen would fare in the modern day publishing industry,[20][21][22][23][24] achieved worldwide attention when Austen's work—submitted under a pseudonym—was rejected by numerous publishers.[25]

Austen's writing was the inspiration for the 2013 video game Regency Love, a visual novel in which the player interacts with townspeople, friends, family, and potential suitors, looking for a suitable match. The game includes storylines inspired by Austen's writing style, as well as trivia questions about Austen's work.[26]

  • The 1980 film Jane Austen in Manhattan is about rival stage companies who wish to produce the only complete Austen play, the fictional Sir Charles Grandison, which had been recently discovered.[27]
  • The 2007 film The Jane Austen Book Club is about a group of people who form a Jane Austen discussion group. Much of the dialogue concerns her novels and her personal life. This film is based on a book by Karen Joy Fowler.
  • The 2013 film Austenland is a romantic comedy based on Shannon Hale's novel of the same name, starring Keri Russell as Jane Hayes, a young thirty-something obsessed with Jane Austen who travels to a British resort called Austenland, in which the Austen era is recreated.
  • In the radio sitcom Old Harry's Game, Jane Austen is a minor recurring character who is in Hell. In it, Austen is discovered to have been incredibly violent, rude and foul-mouthed personally. As a result, she is one of the few people in Hell that Satan is frightened of and whom other sinners such as Hitler look up to.
  • In the science fiction book series Remnants, a subculture group called "Janes" emulate the mannerisms and ideals of the characters in Jane Austen's novels.
  • In the British TV series Blackadder the Third, Mr. E. Blackadder explains he gave himself a female pseudonym when writing a book. Insisting that every other male author is doing it, Blackadder explains that Jane Austen is really a burly Yorkshireman with a heavy beard. In addition to this, in a deliberate nod to the third series being set in the Regency period, each episode had an alliterative title loosely punning Sense and Sensibility, e.g. "Sense and Senility", "Ink and Incapability".
  • The 2005 book Kafka's Soup, a literary pastiche in the form of a cookbook, contains a recipe for tarragon eggs à la Jane Austen.[28]
  • In 2010, a mock movie trailer became popular online, satirising the novels and characters of Austen's novels. Titled, Jane Austen's Fight Club, it depicts Elizabeth Bennet leading a bare knuckle boxing therapy group for other Austen characters.[29][30]
  • In 2013 it was announced that Austen is to feature on the next £10 note issued by the Bank of England, probably in 2017.[31]
  • In 2015 she was mentioned in the ninth series in the British science fiction television program, Doctor Who, by Clara Oswald, who describes her as an "amazing writer, astonishing comic observer and, strictly between ourselves, a phenomenal kisser."

Bibliography[edit]

  • Macdonald, Gina and Andrew Macdonald, eds. Jane Austen on Screen. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 978-0-521-79325-4.
  • Pucci, Suzanne Rodin and James Thompson, eds. Jane Austen and Co.: Remaking the Past in Contemporary Culture. Buffalo: State University of New York Press, 2003. ISBN 978-0-7914-5615-6.
  • Troost, Linda and Sayre Greenfield, eds. Jane Austen in Hollywood. 2nd ed. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001. ISBN 978-0-8131-9006-8.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pucci and Thompson, 1.
  2. ^ a b "Becoming Jane – The Official DVD Website" (Press release). Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc. Retrieved 14 February 2010. 
  3. ^ "Masterpiece Classic – Jane Austen Selected Resources – Books/Biographies" (Press release). Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Retrieved 14 February 2010. 
  4. ^ Beaton, Kate. "Jane Austen Comics", Hark! A Vagrant. Accessed 3 December 2014.
  5. ^ Lee, Ang, dir. Sense and Sensibility. Adap. Emma Thompson. Perf. Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Kate Winslet, and Hugh Grant. Columbia Pictures, 1995. DVD.
  6. ^ Alexander, John, dir. Sense and Sensibility. Adap. Andrew Davies. Perf. David Morrissey, Janet McTeer, Hattie Morahan, Charity Wakefield, Dan Stevens, Dominic Cooper, Mark Williams, Claire Skinner, Anna Madeley, Daisy Haggard. BBC, 2008. DVD.
  7. ^ Material Girls, Wikipedia
  8. ^ Pride and Prejudice (2003) at the Internet Movie Database.
  9. ^ See Jennifer M. Woolston's "'It's not a put-down, Miss Bennet; it's a category': Andrew Black's Chick Lit Pride and Prejudice," Persuasions Online 28.1 (Winter 2007).Jasna.org
  10. ^ Burstein, Nathan (6 November 2008). "Mr. Darcy's Israeli Makeover". The Forward. 
  11. ^ lizziebennet.com
  12. ^ Digital, Pemberley. "The Lizzie Bennet Diaries". YouTube. Retrieved 2015-04-17. 
  13. ^ "Pride & Prejudice". Cardiff University School of Music. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  14. ^ "Northanger Abbey". Jane Austen Society of North America. 20 May 2016. 
  15. ^ Quirke, Kieron (16 August 2011). "Mansfield Park, Arcola Theatre – Review". Evening Standard. Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  16. ^ Stebbing, Eve (24 September 2012). "Mansfield Park, Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds - Review". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  17. ^ Bloom, Harold. 1994. The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages. p. 226. New York: Harcourt Brace.
  18. ^ "BBC — 100 great British heroes". BBC News. 21 August 2002. Retrieved 7 November 2010. 
  19. ^ The BBC's Big Read BBC: The Big Read April 2003. Retrieved 7 November 2010
  20. ^ De Bruxelles, Simon. "How A Laydee showed that First Impressions really are misleading." The Times. 19 July 2007. p21.
  21. ^ Morris, Stephen. "The author and the Austen plot that exposed publishers' pride and prejudice." The Guardian, 19 July 2007. p3.
  22. ^ Jane Austen in Modern Day. ABC news. 20 July 2007.
  23. ^ 'Publishers fail to spot plagiarized Jane Austen' Reuters. 19 July 2007.
  24. ^ "No Censure for Stolen Words", New York Times, 20 July 2007.
  25. ^ "How literary hoax turned into a global story for Austen fans". Western Daily Press. 12 September 2008.
  26. ^ Hudson, Laura (19 August 2015). "A romance game that feels like playing a Jane Austen novel". Boing Boing. Retrieved 9 October 2015. 
  27. ^ BBC News. 2004. Rare Austen manuscript unveiled
  28. ^ C J Schüler (13 November 2005). "Kafka's Soup by Mark Crick". The Independent. Retrieved 27 May 2011. 
  29. ^ Jane Austen's Fight Club
  30. ^ Staskiewicz, Keith (30 July 2010). "I am Jane's pinching corset: We talk to the creator of 'Jane Austen's Fight Club'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  31. ^ "Jane Austen to be face of the Bank of England £10 note - BBC News". Bbc.com. Retrieved 2015-04-17.