The Teen-ification of Jane Austen


By Carmen Comment

Though Jane Austen was all over the book, film and TV world? Then wait till 2007, when no fewer than six forthcoming films and television series, along with plans for new editions of her works, tailored to the teenage market, arrive on the scene. The Telegraph reports on the newest form of Austenmania that kicks off with the film BECOMING JANE, which examines the author (as played by Anne Hathaway, above) romance with Thomas Langlois Lefroy (James McAvoy), the Irish politician. Bookshops and libraries, anticipating a surge of interest in the author as a result of her exposure on both the big and small screens, are planning major displays of her works. A spokesman for Waterstone’s, Britain’s biggest bookseller, predicted it would sell more copies of Austen’s works than at any time since Colin Firth emerged from a lake during the BBC’s adaptation of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE in 1995, while Penguin said it planned new editions of the author’s six best-known works with covers designed to appeal to teenagers.

Andrew Davies, who has written adaptations of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY for the BBC, NORTHANGER ABBEY for ITV, and the screenplay for the 1995 production of P&P, predicted a new generation of teenagers would fall in love with Austen and her work. “The effect of all of these projects will make for a Jane Austen frenzy. The stories are absolutely contemporary. They are about sex and they are about money. One of the good things about Jane Austen is the men. They are real men – classy and rather scary. That makes them terrific for a female audience.”