Two teachers vie for the right to stage a play written by Jane Austen when she was twelve years old.
Did You Know?
According to the Merchant Ivory Productions official website, "The origins of Jane Austen in Manhattan
(1980) . . . go back to the sale of the manuscript of Jane Austen
's childhood play, based on Samuel Richardson
's novel 'Sir Charles Grandison', at a Sothebys auction in London. The manuscript was acquired by David Astor
, owner of 'The Observer' newspaper, who was quickly approached by the London Weekend Television [LWT] arts program The South Bank Show
(1978) apparently without actually seeing it, for production rights. Melvyn Bragg
, who had co-produced Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures
(1978) for the program and was at a party for its screening with Merchant and Ivory, mentioned to them that LWT had just acquired an option on the play. Also without having seen the play, they enthusiastically agreed to do the film version. When [director James] Ivory received a photocopy of the manuscript, however, he discovered that it 'wasn't a complete play, just this childish thing'. Yet [screenwriter Ruth Prawer] Jhabvala felt that it could be used as the 'seed' for a film in which theatrical groups compete to acquire and produce the Austen play. After The Europeans
(1979) was made, she prepared the screenplay for Jane Austen in Manhattan
(1980), and in January-March 1980 the film was shot on location in New York. Its $450,000 cost was underwritten by a group of investors, including London Weekend Television and Polytel, backers previously of Hullabaloo [Hullabaloo Over Georgie and Bonnie's Pictures
(1978)]". See more
Featured in The Wandering Company