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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Victory lap

Less than two weeks ago, apropos of my latest effort to stamp out the online plague of fake Jane Austen quotes, I wrote, “I like to believe this record-correction is a modest form of Janeite community service.”

Never say that community service must forever go unrewarded. Because that very same day, one of my earlier quote-correction blog posts earned a shout-out in an online piece about a new, relatively prominent example of fake Austen-quoting.

Earlier this month, Amazon released its deeply mediocre film adaptation of Casey McQuiston’s delightful 2019 romance novel Red, White & Royal Blue. In the movie, the fictional Prince Henry of England, emailing his secret boyfriend, who happens to be the son of the American president, writes, “I’m reminded of one of my favorite quotes from Sense and Sensibility: ‘It isn’t what we say or think that defines us but what we do.’ ”

As every Janeite, every blog reader of mine—and, indeed, everyone with thirty seconds to perform a text search--knows, this line does not appear in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, and several viewers of the movie took to the-platform-formerly-known-as-Twitter to point out that fact.

Happily for me, some of them also found one of the (several!) posts in which I explain the quote’s true provenance: It’s a garbled version of a line that appears in the screenplay for Andrew Davies’ 2008 TV adaptation of the novel. And thus it was that one of my posts made it into a Yahoo! story about this particular teapot tempest.

Woohoo! It’s a small victory, but I’ll take it.

By the way, in McQuiston’s book, Prince Henry, after noting that Austen is his favorite English author, also quotes Sense and Sensibility, writing, “You want nothing but patience—or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.” A line that can actually be found in Jane Austen’s novel.

The book usually is better than the movie, don’t you think?


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