If nothing else, Jane Austen wrote from personal experience. Courtship she knew well; only the last act eluded her. This film biography dramatizes Austen’s lost loves: Harris Bigg, whose proposal she accepted and then rejected; Edward Brydges, whom she also refused; the tongue-tied vicar she teased mercilessly; and the young surgeon who arrived on the scene too late to steal her heart. Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense), Greta Schacchi (The Player) and Hugh Bonneville (Notting Hill) star.
THE COMPLETE JANE AUSTEN MISS AUSTEN REGRETS ON MASTERPIECE
Sunday, February 3, 2008 at 9pm ET on PBS
Of all the love stories filling the rich imagination of Jane Austen, one in particular did not end with wedding bells. Her own. Why did the author who embodied the brilliant wit and high spirits of her heroines not take the plunge into matrimony herself?
Years earlier, it was Cassandra who persuaded Jane to rescind her acceptance of the marriage proposal by Harris Bigg (Samuel Roukin). The heir to a fortune, Bigg would have guaranteed the Austen family’s financial security, if not necessarily Jane’s happiness.
Hugh Bonneville (Iris) plays another former suitor, the Reverend Brook Bridges. Smitten with Jane as a young man, he could not pluck up the courage to ask her to marry him. Much later, when he finally did propose, Jane had given up on marrying anybody.
letters, with Hughes reading carefully between the lines to fill in crucial gaps.
Cassandra notoriously burned many of her sister’s letters after Jane’s death—an act that was probably intended to spare the feelings of still-living relatives and acquaintances, who were the target of Jane’s famous barbs.