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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Writing women

As a writer who is also a fan of period drama, I pay attention to the screenwriting credits on my favorite literary-minded TV adaptations. And up there with the revered Andrew Davies—screenwriter of the BBC’s iconic 1995 Pride and Prejudice, among many other projects—I would rank Sandy Welch.

Welch gave us the insightful 2009 version of Austen’s Emma, the touching 2006 adaptation of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, and the to-die-for 2004 miniseries of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South, which brought the swoon-inducing Richard Armitage to the—ahem!—attention of heterosexual women everywhere.

This Wednesday, in honor of International Women’s Day, the UK museums that showcase these three writers--Chawton House and Jane Austen’s House, the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and Elizabeth Gaskell’s House--are hosting “Women Adapting Women,” a Zoom discussion featuring Welch. The event takes place from 7-8:30 pm British time (2-3:30 pm in the US Eastern time zone), and registration costs £5 (about $6).

It’s not clear from the announcement whether Welch will be lecturing, answering interview questions, or just gabbing with a starry-eyed fan angling for Armitage’s email address. (Shut up! I’m happily married!)

But Chawton House’s announcement offers a tantalizing glimpse of some of the topics Welch will cover: “How does she approach the work? What does she choose to leave out? And what impact does TV and film have on the legacy of women writers such as Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell?”

Sounds like the raw material for a fascinating conversation, at least for those of us who pay attention to the writing credits.

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