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Sunday, August 30, 2015

More Scenes Jane Austen Never Wrote — guest post from Margaret C. Sullivan!

If you've been hanging around Austen in August this year, you've probably been enjoying Maggie's contributions to our yearly conversations (the most recent of which included Tom Hiddleston dancing, so. . .); if you've been hanging around AIA long enough, you've also enjoyed other awesome things from Ms. Sullivan, like the hilarious There Must Be Murder, the amazing Jane Austen Handbook, or that time she made Austen's heroes duke it out over their places Heroic Ranking Index.
Today she's at it again with (another) taste of snarky silliness inspired by her latest book, Jane Austen Cover to Cover (which I'll be talking about v. soon!)
Click through to check out the hilarity, but be warned: you may laugh embarrassingly. (I snorted.)

More Scenes Jane Austen Never Wrote
By Margaret C. Sullivan

While writing Jane Austen Cover to Cover, I worked with a huge variety of editions of Jane Austen’s novels stretching over 200 years of publication--everything from first editions “in boards” (cardboard binding not meant to be permanent) to very recent editions created with 21st century style and design. I’ve been collecting Austen books with silly covers (and snarking them on AustenBlog) for years, and I was thrilled at the opportunity to feature many of these weird, wonderful, hilarious covers in the book along with the beautiful ones. You have to wonder what Jane Austen would have thought about them--or the scenes she might have written based on them (but didn’t).

Pride and Prejudice
Tor, 1994

Tor is best known for publishing science fiction novels, but their mass-market paperback editions of Jane Austen’s novels have more of a romance-novel sensibility. And they are still in print, if you are interested in your own copy of P&P starring Prince as Mr. Darcy. (Of course it’s Prince. Who else would wear a purple tailcoat?)

“Good morning, Miss Bennet.”

“Oh! Good morning, Mr. Darcy. I was not expecting you...oh my goodness, you are wearing a purple coat.”

“Is that a problem for you, Miss Bennet? By the way, your gown is very...ruffly.”

“No, I suppose not...Mr. Darcy! Please let go of my hand!”

“I get delirious when you hold my hand, body gets so weak I can hardly stand.”

“...I beg your pardon?”

“I never seen a pretty girl look so tough, baby.”

“I have not the pleasure of understanding you, sir!”

“Dig if you will the picture of you and I engaged in a kiss.”
“Mr. Darcy!”

“I got a lion in my pocket, and baby he's ready to roar!”

“Wait a minute...Mr. Darcy, am I meant to understand that you are proposing to me?”

“Move over, baby, gimme the keys, I'm gonna try to tame your little red love machine.”

“Is this all the reply which I am to have the honour of expecting?”

Boy vs. girl in the World Series of love.”

“I...this is...completely unexpected, sir. I am all astonishment. Not only that you have chosen to make your declarations to me, but in such a manner!”

“Don't make me chase you. Even doves have pride.”

“Yes, I know your abominable pride, Mr. Darcy! I am astonished that you have seen fit to offer marriage to someone whose condition in life is so decidedly beneath your own!”

“You don't have to be rich to be my girl, you don't have to be cool to rule my world.”

“I find that hard to believe.”

“Ain't no particular sign I'm more compatible with. I just want your extra time and your *smooch* *smooch* *smooch* *smooch* *smooch* kiss!”

“Mr. Darcy! I must protest!”

“I'll never beat you, I'll never lie, and if you're evil I'll forgive you by and by.”

You are mistaken, Mr. Darcy, if you suppose that the mode of your declaration affected me in any other way, than as it spared me the concern which I might have felt in refusing you, had you behaved in a more gentleman-like manner.”

“I never meant to cause you any sorrow. I never meant to cause you any pain. I only wanted one time to see you laughing...I only want to see you laughing in the purple rain.”

“You could not have made me the offer of your hand in any possible way that would have tempted me to accept it.

“I guess I should've known by the way you parked your car sideways that it wouldn't last.”

I had not known you a month before I felt that you were the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry.”

“How can you just leave me standing? Alone in a world that's so cold?”

“I dare say you will recover soon enough, sir. Party over, oops, out of time...good heavens! Where in the world did that come from?”

“You say you want a leader, but you can't seem to make up your mind. I think you better close it and let me guide you to the purple rain.”

“...I am leaving now, Mr. Darcy.”

Lancer Books/Magnum Easy Eye, 1968

I found this copy of Persuasion several years ago in a secondhand bookshop and had to buy it, because it is hilarious. It’s actually quite a nice illustration, but has little to nothing to do with the Royal Navy of Jane Austen’s time. Captain Wentworth looks like he’s been skippering a New England whaler in the 20th century, rather than a Royal Navy frigate, and Anne Elliot could have stepped out of a 1960s fashion plate. They did, however, get the ship right, and that’s important!

“Miss Elliot? Miss Anne Elliot?”

“Yes, I am Miss Anne Elliot.”

“I should not have known you, madam. We have not seen one another in eight years in a half. It is a period, indeed!”

“I should have known you, Captain Wentworth. I should have known you anywhere.”

“You will claim that women’s hearts are stronger than men’s, I dare say.”

“Well, yes, of course, but that is not it. I should have recognized you by that curious hat. You wore it in the year six as well, and I should have thought you would have grown tired of it by now.”

“I like this hat. It makes me feel...jaunty.”

“It makes you look like...never mind.”

“Now that you have piqued my curiosity, Miss Elliot, you must satisfy it!”

“Very well. It makes you look like the understudy for a bad community theater production of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. There, I’ve said it, and at your request, so if you have any hurt feelings over this, you cannot blame me.”

“My hat! My poor, jaunty hat!”

“It really is not all that jaunty.”

“I like this hat.”

“You said that already. And now that I have satisfied your curiosity, why did you say you would not have known me?”

“Well, frankly, Miss Elliot...when I knew you before, you were a little, elegant woman, demure and quiet and pretty.”

“So you are saying I’m no longer pretty, Captain Wentworth? That is not very gallant of you.”

“No, no! Not at all! In fact, Miss Elliot, you are grown rather…”


“Rather glam.”


“Well, yes.”

“In what way?”

“Your face, madam. It is very…colorful. Your lashes, so lush and dark! Your mouth, so pink! Your eyelids, so lavender! You remind me of...perhaps I should not say it.”

“I was blunt with you, sir; do me the courtesy of being blunt with me.”

“Well, then--you remind me of the doxies I saw in the West Indies.”

“Captain Wentworth, I am astonished to learn that you kept company with fallen women!”

“I did not keep company with them. I saw them around, as one does. Do not misunderstand me: I found them rather...attractive.”

“Oh. In that case, I suppose I will take it as a compliment.”

“I think you should, Miss Elliot.”

“And then I will take back what I said about your hat. It makes you look…”



“Thank you, Miss Elliot. You have pierced my soul.”

Northanger Abbey
Soho Press, 2010(ish)

Because Jane Austen’s books are in the public domain, anyone can republish them, and many have--in some cases, one presumes, without much consideration for the actual story or the time period in which it is set. Some recent editions have been published with covers using vaguely romantic-looking stock art, including this edition of Northanger Abbey showing a woman in a red ball gown squatting in a very unladylike attitude. Well, we know that Catherine Morland played “base ball” with her brothers--perhaps her position was catcher.

“SWING batter batter batter!”

“I beg your pardon, Miss Morland?”

“That is something one says while playing base ball, Mr. Tilney.”

“I see. This is a very curious game. I am much more accustomed to cricket.”

“Cricket takes much longer to play. We shall be able to finish this game this afternoon.”


“--unless you continue speaking, sir. BATTER UP!”

“Oh--oh, I beg your pardon.”

“Mr. Tilney, you must hold the bat up off your shoulder. Then swing it level.”

“Like so?”

“Eek! Perhaps not so close to my head. Extend your arms more.”

“Miss Morland, the bowler is throwing overhand--yikes! And with great velocity!”


“Er, what was that? Oh, another bowl--”


“I say, this game does move quickly.”

“Keep your eye on the ball, Mr. Tilney, and you will hit it--”


“A hit, a very palpable hit!”

“Yes, Mr. TIlney, and now you must run the bases! Run to each one, all around, and then back home.”

“I have run the bases, Miss Morland.”

“Yes, you have, sir.”

“And I am back home.”

“Indeed so.”

“And here you are...at home.”

“Here I am...at home.”

“I rather like the symbolism of this game, my dearest Catherine.”

Mansfield Park
J.M. Dent and The Daily Telegraph, 2007

When ITV showed its “Jane Austen Season” in the UK in 2007, with new adaptations of several of Austen’s novels, the Daily Telegraph commissioned a set of Austen’s six novels, already in print from J.M. Dent, with new covers. The books were available at a chain of coffee shops, and could be obtained for free with a coupon from each day’s paper. A friend in London was kind enough to collect them for me (thanks, Kathleen!). The cover images range from attractive to a little odd to...well.

“Good day, Fanny!”

“Good day, Edmund! Will you have some tea?”

“I will, and gladly. What are these little cakes?”

“Miss Crawford sent them over, with her and her brother’s compliments. I believe they may be trying to get back in our good graces.”

“I believe you are right. But little cakes seem harmless enough. I hope you have eaten one, Fanny. You are grown a little thin.”

“I confess I have eaten several, Edmund. They are quite delicious. I cannot seem to resist them. I hope I have not fallen prey to the sin of gluttony.”

“No, no. They are quite small, and (munching) as you said, quite delicious. I believe I will have another, and encourage you to do so as well.”

“Yes, Edmund. -- I feel very odd.”

“To tell you the truth, Fanny, so do I.”


“Yes, Fanny?”

“I am going to take my face off.”

“That seems perfectly reasonable.”

“I shall put it on this bird and fly away.”

“Yes, little starling, escape while you can!”


“Fly away while you can! It’s so---dark! It’s so Victorian! I don’t even know what that means!”


“The thorns! The thorns, Fanny! They are surrounding me! They are choking me!”




Mr. Edmund Bertram and Miss Fanny Price were found in the Mansfield Park drawing room asleep together on the sofa, surrounded by cake crumbs, flower petals, and feathers. Lady Bertram’s pet canary had escaped from its cage and was found hiding in the curtains. Having been so compromised, and the possibility of their marriages to the Crawford siblings having disappeared, the Bertrams hastily married them off. The Crawfords didn’t quite get the revenge they were seeking by sending the cakes, made from a special recipe that their uncle, the admiral, had brought back from his travels.

Puffin Books, 2011

In honor of Misty’s well-known affection for YA literature, I’ve included an edition of Emma meant for teens. Puffin Books (a division of Penguin) has long produced editions of classics directed at the teen audience, and this edition casts Miss Woodhouse as an adorable teenager. One wonders what they would do with Mr. Knightley; this could quickly swing into Creepyland!

Hey kids!

New from Donwell Toys, it’s Emma’s Dream Woodhouse!

Comes complete with a shrubbery for afternoon walks on fine, dry gravel; a horse and carriage*; extra guestrooms for Emma’s BFF Harriet to stay over; a round Pembroke table for Papa; all the accessories for painting, picnics, taking food to the sick, and making thin gruel. Extra marriage proposals included, and one very dependable hero in gaiters.

*James the coachman figure sold separately

[Note from Misty: she appreciates it. ;) Also, I now need my own Dream Woodhouse, so thanks for that.]

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  1. The Mansfield Park one is like something from my nightmares!!!

  2. those covers are bad but fun writings about them. I've seen tons of cover using old paintings, I think I prefer those the best.

    thanks for this & have a lovely day.

  3. What a hilarious post! Thank you, Maggie, for making mr laugh!! Repeatedly. ROFL from "understudy for a bad community theater production of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir."

    Also wondering if the girl in the red gown found the line too long at the ladies room.

    And that Mansfield park cover! Did Terry Gilliam draw it?

    1. I meant "me," not "mr," though I'm sure he's laughing too, whoever he is.

  4. Yep, the warning was right on with me. I gigglesnorted through the lot of these. And I thought with the one of Darcy smoking and being a gangster was hilarious. Some of these like the MP cover are just weird.

    Fun posted, Maggie!

  5. Some of these covers are so odd. The Persuasion one - the clothes are just so terrible! I liked the Darcy/Prince scenario, that never would have occurred to me, and was so funny. I'm glad I don't have that version or I'd be mentally quoting lyrics any time I saw it :)

  6. After seeing so many terrible covers, I just keep wondering if publishers had a marketing department? Did anyone really look at these before they put them on the market? Of course, if they did, we would have this hilarious post or the gloriously bad covers. Still, I wonder how these came to be.

  7. Oh my gads YES! Those covers are...I can't even. The Prince references had me snorting with glee, and that squatting be-heeled Northanger Abbey cover (is she peeing in the woods?!)...hideous. Although gigglecakes might explain all of these covers....

  8. I love the comments referencing some of the covers. oh, my.

  9. I love the comments referencing some of the covers. oh, my.

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