So my friend Elizabeth and I recently attended a Persuasion-themed Jane Austen picnic sponsored by The Greater Bay Area Costumers’ Guild. It was an excuse to wear Regency, and in particular to acquire a copy of the beautiful gold Regency gown in the Kyoto Costume Institute collection.
A looooong time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I wrote a fanfic from Jane Fairfax’s and Frank Churchill’s perspectives, filling in the plot gaps in Emma by Jane Austen. Obviously, that negates the “mystery story” element of the novel, but I don’t care. It was a fun exercise to try to get into their heads and figure out what they were thinking, and what kinds of people they really were.
I came to the conclusion that Jane Fairfax really was a superior creature. One who was desperate to find love…and also desperate to not work for a living. Not judging – I totally understand where she was coming from. Here’s a beautiful woman with loads of talent and tons of accomplishments, and she’s on the cusp of spending the rest of her life (? – I mean, Mr. Weston sprung Miss Taylor out of Governess Jail at Hartfield…) as a glorified servant. For a woman who is the granddaughter and daughter of gentlemen (her grandfather was clergy and her father an army officer, two of the gentlemanly professions), it isn’t so unreasonable to expect she’ll be able to live a life that befits a gentlewoman. Obviously, genteel poverty was a thing (cases in point: Mrs. and Miss Bates), but as a young woman, Jane should have had a fighting chance at a decent marriage and living. Maybe not big-inheritance level like Frank ended up giving her, but something better than working for friends of Mrs. Elton for a pittance.
In Jane’s shoes, I probably would’ve let Frank talk me into falling in love with him, too. Maybe. As for Frank Churchill, I decided he’s a self-centered ass, but not the villain some people make him out to be. He really, really does love her. I mean, here’s a guy with the looks, charm, and money to basically marry just about any well-bred girl he wants, and he picks the poor one. And not just for messing around. He proposes marriage to lock her down. Add all that to his fits of pique at Box Hill and you know he’s got it bad for her. Really bad.
Yeah, he makes fun of Jane’s hair to Emma, which isn’t just an affront to her looks – it’s also a dig at her poverty, as she and her aunt and grandmother can’t afford a lady’s maid to do it for her, but so many of the improper things that come up in Frank’s conversations with Emma aren’t actually suggested by Frank – they’re suggested by Emma. He certainly encourages the topic, but it’s Emma who goes full-Dixon, not Frank. Mmhmmmmm.
Anyway, I rewrote the fic to make it a little less Austen-y and restrained and a little more psychological. When I finished the original version, I wanted to continue the post-canon story of Jane and Frank with some plot ideas that struck me along the way. Unfortunately, life got stupid for a couple of decades and suddenly it’s not just the 21st century, it’s the third decade of the 21st century, and that scares the crap out of me. I’ve only begun to revisit the possibility of continuing with these ficbunnies again. Suffice it to say that some of my ideas will probably piss off the Austen purists, but whatever. Forget it, Jake (Jane?) – this is Fanfiction Town.
Hey guys! Hope you’re all practicing social distancing and keeping safe. My school’s gone online-only, and so I’ll be teaching from home until Summer. That’ll give me time to, you know, maybe blog more.
The silver lining: the latest Emma adaptation is going to be available on demand starting THIS FRIDAY! Great news! Stay tuned!
The film stars Anya Taylor-Joy as Emma Woodhouse and is directed by Autumn de Wilde. Other stars include Johnny Flynn as Mr. Knightley, Bill Nighy as Mr. Woodhouse, Mia Goth as Harriet, Miranda Hart as Miss Bates, Josh O’Connor as Mr. Elton, and Callum Turner as Frank Churchill. The screenplay is by Eleanor Catton.
I’ve also included some illustrations from various editions of the novel, most of which were sent to me by my friend Cinthia:
There are illustrations by Charles Edmund Brock (1870-1938) from 1898 and 1909 editions of Emma.
The 1898 edition Brock Illustrations are American reproductions of earlier versions presented in an English edition. The watercolor Brock illustrations come from a 1909 edition of the novel published by J.M. Dent & Co. in London and by E.P. Dutton & Co. in New York.
There are also illustrations by Philip Gough from an 1948 edition published by McDonald & Co., illustrations by Fritz Kredel from a 1964 edition from Heritage Press, and black and white “line” drawings by Hugh Thomson from another edition.
Since my old gallery script ceased to function, I’m bringing everything back right here using Gallery for WordPress. Please bear with me while I fine-tune this album and add new content. 🙂 To see the albums, continue past the jump…