Duologues from Jane Austen’s Novels by Rosina Filippi

Object name: Duologues from Jane Austen’s Novels by Rosina Filippi.

Object number: CHWJA:JAHB128

Category: Book

Description: Duologues from Jane Austen’s Novels, by Rosina Filippi. First edition, published by J.M. Dent 1895

Made: 1895

Context: Born in Venice in 1866,  Rosina Filippi moved to London with her family as a young child.  She became a well known character actress and acting instructor.

Amateur theatricals were all the rage in the 1890s as they had been in Jane Austen’s youth. Filippi was the first person to adapt the novels of Jane Austen for stage, adapting memorable scenes from Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Emma and Northanger Abbey into one-act parlour plays for drawing room entertainment.  The plays were specifically aimed at women, with a wealth of strong female parts (12 female parts to only 4 male), and a concentration on scenes in which female characters are at their most direct and rebellious including Mr Collin’s proposal to Lizzy and Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s visit to Longbourn.

Although Duologues tapped into the era’s burgeoning New Woman movement, presenting scenes and characters that emphasised and celebrated female domestic protest, Rosina Filippi herself was reported to be a member of the anti-suffrage movement.

In the introduction to her book Filippi wrote ‘I am convinced that Jane Austen as a playwright will fascinate her audiences as much as she has her readers as a novelist’ and she was right; Duologues proved hugely popular, running to three editions. Dozens more dramatic adaptations of Austen followed. As the twentieth century opened, many people were just as likely to encounter Austen onstage as in a book.

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