The Hallmark Channel has jumped on board of the “rediscovery” of the Mid-eighteenth-century beloved Austen books. Of course, they are hardly rediscovered, as they have never really gone out of favor and are reimagined over and over again for each generation to find. What is even more exciting, is the sisters are getting their credit too. Their own lives mirrored what Jane wrote about.
The Hallmark Channel is best known for its popular contemporary Christmas-themed fare. But this February, or “Loveuary,” as they are calling it, the network has a different cause for celebration — the debut of a quartet of new films inspired by the creativity and fandom of Regency-era novelist Jane Austen, including Sense and Sensibility with a mostly Black lead cast.
With the success of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s multiracial Hamilton cast and Bridgerton on Netflix, they knew they needed to “respect the work and do something creatively refreshing.” This NPR article is worth reading. Hallmark did their research to uncover what wasn’t published and to right some wrongs of history’s telling’s.
Over a decade ago, when Vanessa Riley discovered Miss Lambe – a mixed-race Caribbean heiress in Austen’s unfinished novel Sanditon – she felt compelled to suss out the facts behind her origin story. Her research revealed that Austen’s character was grounded in reality and that it was the public record that needed correction. Since then, Riley has devoted much of her writing to that restoration. (Riley is best known for her well-researched biographical novel Island Queen, (a 2021 NPR Books We Love pick) about the complicated and tumultuous life of Dorothy Kirwan Thomas, a businesswoman who was born into slavery in the 18th century on a Caribbean plantation and ended up buying her freedom and the freedom of her family.)
I’ve been a fan since being introduced to her in a junior high English class. And her stories keep getting rediscovered and reinvented. This time in our history has been corrupted by those who think differently about the roles of women. I am here to say, we are not going anywhere, and we will show up wherever our voices are being ignored! I find this newly discovered age of Austen to be very illuminating and exciting, and entertaining, both in these new offerings and in the amount of attention it’s getting on many media platforms. A new age of enlightenment is upon us, as it was in Austen’s day. Let’s pray this time it reaches a worldwide audience who will help usher a better world towards our futures.