Jane Austen’s much-loved Hampshire is expecting another surge of interest in her life and times, when an adaptation of her unfinished novel, Sanditon, hits the television screens this Autumn.
Written only months before Austen’s death in 1817, Sanditon tells the story of the spirited and unconventional Charlotte Heywood and her spiky relationship with the charming and slightly wild Sidney Parker. Austen wrote eleven chapters of the novel before being forced to stop, due to ill health.
Now her last ever story will be brought to life on the nation’s TV screens, thanks to ITV.
The first-ever television adaptation of Austen’s unfinished novel will feature Last Tango in Halifax’sAnne Reid and Death in Paradise’sKris Marshall, alongside Theo James (The Divergent Series, Downton Abbey) and Rose Williams (Curfew, Changeland) in the starring roles.
The eight-part series, which commenced filming in Bristol at the beginning of the year, has been written by acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies, who has previously brought War & Peace, Pride and Prejudiceand, more recently, Les Misérablesto the TV screens.
Austen’s writing tells the story of Charlotte Heywood (Williams), who – following a chance accident – leaves her rural hometown of Willingden for the would-be coastal resort of Sanditon. It exposes Charlotte to the intrigues of a seaside town on the make, and the characters whose fortunes depend on its commercial success. The twists and turns of the plot, which takes viewers from the West Indies to the rotting alleys of London, exposes the hidden agendas of each character and sees Charlotte discover herself.
Theo James stars as the slightly wild, self-made man Sidney Parker, Charlotte’s love interest in Sanditon.
Hampshire, meanwhile, was not only the birthplace of Jane Austen, but was also the home to the people, and the society, which provided inspiration for many of her novels. Known for proudly reminding people that she was “a Hampshire born Austen”, she was finally laid to rest in Winchester Cathedral, in 1817 – at the age of just 41.
Visitors to the county can follow a trail which will take them to Jane Austen’s House Museum and Chawton House in the village of Chawton; her birthplace in Steventon; the locations in Southampton which inspired her during her brief time living in the thriving port; and Winchester, where she lived shortly before her death, and where she is now so well commemorated in the Cathedral.
Austen’s happiest and most productive years were at Chawton. Having started her seventh (and unfinished) novel – Sanditon – here, her health once again started to fail, and she died in Winchester on Friday, July 18, 1817.
Further details about ‘Jane Austen Country’ can be found at https://www.visit-hampshire.co.uk/things-to-do/jane-austen.