12-14 April 2019

Jane Austen Festival Australia is an annual celebration in Canberra where Austen and Napoleonic fans from all over Australia come and indulge themselves in everything Regency - including dancing, music, food, games, archery, fencing, theatre, promenades, grand balls, talks, workshops, costumes and books. This festival is now a regular part of the ACT Heritage Festival, Australian Heritage Week and is supported by the ACT Government, the Australian Costumers Guild and the Earthly Delights Historic Dance Academy. Since its inception in 2008 this little festival has blossomed into one of the most delightful four days anyone could experience each April in an old and beautiful part of Canberra, the Federal capital of Australia.

April 11, 2012

Mr Darcy

I wrote Mr Darcy under the name of Alex Field to differentiate between Sophia Whitfield, the publisher, and Alex Field, the author. The pseudonym simply uses the beginning of my middle name and the end of my surname. It is also a genderless name, which was important to me – women authors today are still less likely to be reviewed than their male counterparts.

There are often many reasons for writing a book. Mr Darcy came about in the most unusual of circumstances. I have always been passionate about Jane Austen. I read every one of her novels as a teenager and continued to re-read them throughout my 20s and 30s. As a teenager I adored the gothic
Northanger Abbey and fell totally for Mr Knightley whilst studying Emma for English A level.

Pride and Prejudice is without a doubt Austen’s most popular novel and one that garnered even more of a following after the dashing Colin Firth played the proud Mr Darcy in the 1995 BBC adaptation. Who can forget the scene where Mr Darcy strides out of the lake to meet a surprised Lizzy? Clearly no one. Colin Firth went on to embody Mr Darcy in the film based on Helen Fielding’s book Bridget Jones Diary. Once again Mr Darcy is the rich, broodingly handsome star of book and screen.

So why Mr Darcy the duck? Two reasons, firstly I adore Jane Austen’s novels, but it had never occurred to me to rewrite her story for children. That is, not until my eldest daughter returned from babysitting a friends four young children. As my daughter raced through my door she was distraught, the family she was babysitting had a duck called Mr Darcy and he had gone missing. He was never found. The four young children were devastated.

It was only then that I thought about Mr Darcy as a character in a book. I could write his story and he would live on as a duck for these four children. They were the first children to receive a signed copy of my book.

An unusual story, but often they are! That day when four children lost their beloved duck I decided to bring him back to life. As I created the story my love of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice guided the characters and the setting.

It was a fabulous project to work on and I was lucky enough to team up with the outstanding illustrator Peter Carnavas.

I look forward to sharing this book and some of the original artwork with you on Saturday.

New Frontier Publishing Sophia Whitfield | Publisher  www.newfrontier.com.au
Ph: 02 9453 1525 Suite 3, Level 2, 18 Aquatic Drive, Frenchs Forest, NSW 2086 Australia

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