Northanger Abbey with Felicity Jones as Catherine Morland was one of three ITV Austen adaptations made as a set in 2007. Mansfield Park with Billie Piper as Fanny Price and Persuasion with Sally Hawkins as Anne Elliot were the other two productions in the set. They served as the foundational pieces of what was dubbed as “The Jane Austen Season” in the UK in 2007. They were aired in the United States along with four other Austen adaptations and a biographical work titled Miss Austen Regrets packaged as “The Complete Jane Austen” on PBS Masterpiece. At the time, it was claimed that these works needed to be reimagined every ten years or so. A quick Jane Austen search on IMDB reveals some interesting developments in this arena. Now, on to our trivia quiz.
- Sylvestra Le Touzel, who portrayed Mrs. Allen in Northanger Abbey, played an Austen heroine in her younger days. Name the production and the role she was cast in.
- Along with both actors playing Austen heroes, name another connection JJ Feild as Mr. Tilney in Northanger Abbey has with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice (1995).
- The entire production, including the Bath scenes, was filmed on location in one country, which was not England. Where was it filmed?
- Andrew Davies, the screenwriter for Northanger Abbey, is proud of his reputation for “sexing up” classic material. In interviews to promote the production, he admitted that he was always looking for excuses to do what?
- There was a red gown worn by Mrs. Allen in Bath that was previously seen on Sophie Thompson as Mary Musgrove in the 1995 Screen Two adaptation of Persuasion. Where did Mary wear this dress?
- One of the main roles in Northanger Abbey was played by an American. Who was it?
- The actress who played Isabella Thorpe, Carey Mulligan, was also seen just a few years earlier in another Austen adaptation. Name the production and the role she was cast in.
- There is a scene in Northanger Abbey at the opera, where John Thorpe compares Catherine’s looks to those of the singer. Which opera was it?
- The screenplay for Northanger Abbey was first written by Andrew Davies for ITV in 1998. Why was there a nine-year delay in its production and release?
- The “JJ” part of JJ Feild are the initials of his first and middle names. What are those names?
How fun was that? Do you think you got some right? Pop quizzes are always a favorite, especially when they are associated with Jane Austen. Am I right? Check your answers below to see how you did.
10.) History repeats itself. There is a two-hundred-year span between the completion of the Northanger Abbey manuscript by Jane Austen and Andrew Davies screenplay adapting the work for television. According to her sister, Cassandra, Jane wrote the novel in 1798-99. Davies completed his screen adaptation in 1998. This is where something interesting happens. Both the original manuscript and Davies’ screenplay were initially sold but not published/produced by the buyer. Northanger Abbey wasn’t published until 1817 post-humously. Davies’s screenplay was originally written for ITV but then sold to Miramax. When the 1999 production of Mansfield Park failed at the box office, the Northanger Abbey project was canceled. In 2002, ITV reacquired the script but shelved it. Just as an Austen adaptation caused it to stall, another Austen adaptation – this one the successful 2005 Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightly, created the demand that finally got the gears moving again.
9.) Which lady wore it better? The red gown with a damask bodice that Sylvestra Le Touzel (Mrs. Allen) wears in Bath was seen earlier on Sophie Thompson (Mary Musgrove) in Persuasion (1995.) Mary wears the dress on two separate occasions when dining at Uppercross. I attempted to get a full-length image of the frock on Mary, but the dim lighting in the scenes rendered the images so grainy that any detail on the dress was lost.
8.) Bait and switch baby. Having seen numerous references to the fact that JJ Feild was born in America, I wondered how it was that he comes across as so delightfully British. It is true that he was born in Colorado, USA. What is less commonly cited is the fact that he moved to London, England, as a baby and came by his manner and accent the same way all the natively born Britons did.
7.) A Dark Fairy Tale. In the cannon scene where Catherine attends the theater with the Allens and Thorpes, the name of the play they attend is not given, leaving Andrew Davies a good deal of license for this scene where John Thorpe leans over to Catherine’s ear and compares her beauty favorably to the actress on stage. Davies selected the Mozart opera The Magic Flute with a scene depicting an aria by the Queen of the Night. Although The Magic Flute isn’t classified as gothic, being considered a fairy tale instead, it has much in common with the genre, with such elements as a wild landscape, ancient architecture, innocent maidens, kidnapping, and demons for starters.
6.) Which gentleman wore it better? Does Henry Tilney’s green coat with buff breeches ensemble look familiar? It will be for anyone who has seen Colin Firth in the same outfit. Please note that Tilney wears an assortment of green coats in the film, but this is the only scene I could find with this the same green coat that Colin Firth wore, so I couldn’t get a full-length picture without the greatcoat over it.
5.) Andrew Davies on clothes. We all know that Andrew Davies likes to introduce sexual tension into his screenplays. I find this quote enlightening.
“One of the things I’ve always thought is a drag in so many period adaptations is that they are always buttoned up to the neck in so many clothes all the time. I’m always looking for excuses to get them out of their clothes.” ~ Andrew Davies
4.) Sylvestra Le Touzel was Fanny Price before she was Mrs. Allen. This one is sort of a freebie if you’re a regular reader. Back in June, the trivia post for Mansfield Park (1983) showed this same image of Sylvestra Le Touzel in the lead role of Fanny Price. The differences between the roles are fun to contemplate.
3.) Carey Mulligan was Kitty Bennet first. Sylvestra wasn’t the only member of the cast whose face was familiar. In two short years, she went from playing the second-fiddle-to-Lydia sister, Kitty Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (2005,) to an Austen antagonist, Isabella Thorpe in Northanger Abbey.
2.) That isn’t really England. Northanger Abbey (2007) was shot entirely on location, not in England, but in Ireland, thanks to generous tax incentives offered for filming there. The beautiful Lismore Castle, the Irish estate of the Duke of Devonshire served as the austere Northanger Abbey, and Higginsbrook House in County Meath was the Morland family home. Historic streets in Dublin stood in for Bath, which is why you won’t see the iconic Royal Crescent in this production.
1.) JJ Feild isn’t his real name. The talented and handsome actor who played Henry Tilney in this production is billed by a nickname. His full name is actually John Joseph Feild, but you can call him JJ.
Well, I hope you had some fun and learned some good stuff. Please leave a comment and let us know you were here. If you have some great insider information on this production to share, we would love to hear it!
Quiz Answers: 1.) Fanny Price in Mansfield Park. 2.) They wore the same costume. 3.) Ireland. 4.) “…get them out of their clothes.” 5.) To dinner at Uppercross. 6.) JJ Field. 7.) Pride and Prejudice (2005) as Kitty Bennet. 8.) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Magic Flute. 9.) The screenplay was sold to Miramax who did not produce it. 10.) John Joseph.