Pride and Prejudice Twenty Years

“It is 20 years since Mr Darcy strode sodden from the lake in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. Television – and Jane Austen – have never been the same…” Nicolas Barber, the BBC, on 22 September.

P&P1995

In September 1995 BBC aired a miniseries based on Jane Austen´s novel Pride and Prejudice. It turned out to be a huge success. We were glued to the tv screens wondering if there was any hope at all for Lizzie Bennet and Mr Darcy. Little did we know that twenty years later we would still be talking about it. This adaptation entered popular culture and has never really left. At the moment in particular “P&P95” is everywhere on social media. Time will tell if Downton Abbey is up there in the same league…

This faithful adaptation with its excellent cast and production values is the reason to the revived interest in all things Jane Austen and the Regency era. Not to mention Darcymania, Colin Firth´s ticket to stardom, Bridget Jones, zombies, Austenland, costume exhibitions, sequels, and endless discussions – about adaptations, and how desperate, exactly, are the Bennets´finances, and haven´t we seen certain costumes in later productions? I could go on.

Colin Firth will always be dear Mrs E´s favourite actor. (It is always fun to tease her about it!) I have been a great admirer of Jennifer Ehle since Camomile Lawn (1992) and watching her brilliant interpretation of Elizabeth Bennet gets me every time. The other characters are wonderful (and annoying), of course, only mentioning Mrs Bennet, Mr Collins, and Miss Bingley here.

Here is a selection of links to some interesting reading:

The BBC features an interview with Andrew Davies, read it here.

Autumn Topping over at Silver Petticoat Review published an anniversary review yesterday and excellent Frockflicks focused on P & P & Feminism in yesterday´s post.

Writes Mary Sollosi on Entertainment Weekly: 6 reasons we still love the Pride and Prejudice miniseries after 20 years.

Jennifer Ehle was interviewed earlier this year: Jennifer Ehle: on nude scenes, Pride and Prejudice and why she doesn’t want fame.

And even earlier, in January, Colin Firth commented on the lake scene.

I find it very soothing to watch one or two episodes when real life is particularily hectic, or if I need some inspiration for new costume projects. And Mr Beveridge´s Maggot is a favourite dance with everybody I know, once you master the steps.

How many of you still watch the series at least once every year? Do you have six-hour marathons or do you prefer certain scenes or episodes?

 

Tolerable I suppose, but not handsome enough to tempt me:

Capital, capital!:

 

A First Empire Tailcoat

When we visited the Rosendal Palace back in August, they had on display this mouth-watering tailcoat. Having seen it in various publications over the years it was interesting to see it in real life. It is a tailcoat in the formal court style as seen in many countries from the late 18th century and well into the 20th century. Variations of it is worn even today both here and there. This particular coat once belonged to the Marshal Bernadotte of the First French Empire, later King Karl XIV Johan of Sweden, and founder of the Bernadotte dynasty.

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A dark blue single breasted tailcoat, with embroidery in gold depicting oak leaves and acorns. The buttons have marshal´s batons in the shape of a cross surrounded by laurel and oak leaves. France, 1804-1810. The Royal Armory, Sweden.

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The coat (or a version of it) on its original owner, the dashing Marshal Bernadotte, Prince of Ponte-Corvo, and sometimes referred to as “Belle-Jambe” (“Pretty legs”). Painting by Joseph Nicolas Jouy, after François-Joseph Kinson. Notice the impressive black neck-stock, the feathered bicorne, and insignia – such as the Legion of Honour – and the marshal´s baton, a blue cylinder with stars and eagles (introduced during the First French Empire). It has the Latin inscription: Terror belli, decus pacis, which means “terror in war, ornament in peace”.

Jean Bernadotte (1763-1844), born in the town of Pau, France, into a modest bourgeois family, was a self-made man and had one of the most extraordinary careers ever. He rose to the rank of general in the turmoils of the French Revolution. In 1798 he married Désirée Clary, the daughter of a successful merchant in Marseille, and whose sister was married to Joseph, Napoleon’s elder brother. Mademoiselle Clary herself was Napoleon´s former fiancée.

On the introduction of the French Empire in 1804, Bernadotte became one of the eighteen Marshals of the Empire. He served as governor of the recently occupied Hanover, and as a reward for his services at Austerlitz in 1805 he became the Sovereign Prince of Ponte Corvo the following year. Napoleon could not fail to respect Bernadotte´s talents, both as a general and as an administrator, but he found his independence extremely vexing. Perhaps in an attempt to get rid of him, Napoleon offered Bernadotte the position of governor of Louisiana. It never happened.

In 1810, as Marshal Bernadotte was about to travel to Rome to take up the role of Governor General, he learned that he had been elected Crown Prince of Sweden (as the Swedish King was childless). The Swedes chose to overlook Bernadotte´s humble origins thanks to his qualifications, his personal fortune, and his position as one of the most loyal allies of the French Emperor.

The Bonaparte saga was short, but the Bernadotte dynasty is still standing in Sweden, and its descendants are to be found in the Royal families of Denmark, Norway, and Belgium.

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A closeup showing the guilt buttons and the embroidery.

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In this older photograph the coat looks rather worn. The report says the sleaves were altered or restored. Interesting to see a glimpse of the embroidery on the tails.

The coat was obviously never worn in Sweden, but ended up in the collection of the Royal Armory. Click here for a link to info on the database for Swedish museum collections.

This is a myth but but I cannot resist including it: During his reign, Karl XIV Johan allegedly would not allow his doctors to examine his naked torso. The explanation was discovered as his body was prepared for the funeral: the former Republican solder had a tattoo on his chest (some sources report it was the left arm) and among other Jacobin symbols with the words, Death to Kings!