Clueless dollText by Jen Harris, former Marketing and Communications Officer at Jane Austen's House
‘It’s like that long book I read in the 9th grade that said, “‘Tis a far, far better thing doing stuff for other people.”’ – Cher (Clueless, 1995)
The extent of Jane Austen’s legacy today has been driven in no small part by the success of modern adaptations and their widespread appeal. Many visitors to Jane Austen’s House are keen to share stories of their first encounters with Jane’s work and it is often the case that an admiration for Austen has developed after watching the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. An admiration no doubt aided on its way by the presence of a certain actor in a certain wet shirt.
Alongside numerous straightforward adaptations, modern reinterpretations of Austen’s work have breathed new life into the novels and reached new audiences. With the Bridget Jones’ Diary series as popular as ever and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies hitting the big screen last year, the reimagination of Austen’s work is big business.
In 1995, Jane Austen’s Emma was reimagined for the modern world by director Amy Heckerling in her much loved teen movie Clueless. Transported to 1990s Beverly Hills, Emma – now called Cher – is pretty, privileged and the envy of her entire High School. Her passions include matchmaking and makeovers and she spends her days hanging out with her best friend Dionne and her protégé Tai (the equivalent of Emma’s friend Harriet). Also like Emma, Cher has a habit of neglecting her own heart, discovering that she is clueless when it comes to her own needs and happiness. Following the success of the film, Clueless was developed into a television series with an accompanying range of merchandise, amongst which was this Cher doll. The doll came complete with various accessories and, most importantly, a feather pen.