Miss Austen | Keeley Hawes to star in adaptation of Gill Hornby’s novel

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Miss Austen is the latest literary adaptation heading our way and Keeley Hawes leads an ensemble cast of British favourites. 


Gill Hornby’s novel Miss Austen is getting the big screen treatment. Well, big-ish screen. The novel is being adapted into a four-part drama for Masterpiece in the US, while BBC has picked up the series in the UK. 

Production on Miss Austen is already underway in the UK as of last month. Keeley Hawes (Rebecca, High-Rise) stars in the series as Cassandra Austen and will be joined by Rose Leslie, Patsy Ferran, Jessica Hynes, Max Irons and Alfred Enoch. 

keeley hawes miss austen
Credit: Masterpiece / BBC

Here’s the synopsis: “Miss Austen takes a literary mystery – Cassandra Austen notoriously burning her famous sister Jane’s letters – and reimagines it as a fascinating, witty and heart-breaking story of sisterly love, while creating in Cassandra a character as captivating as any Austen heroine.

The drama begins in 1830, a while after Jane has died. Cassandra (Keeley Hawes) races to see her young friend Isabella (Rose Leslie) who is about to lose her home following her father’s death. Cassandra is ostensibly there to help her friend, but her real motive is to find a stash of private letters which, in the wrong hands, could destroy Jane’s reputation. On discovering them, Cassandra is overwhelmed as she is transported back to her youth. In flashback, we meet Young Cassy and Jane (Patsy Ferran) as they navigate the infatuations, family feuds and dashed hopes which shaped their lives and laid the foundations for Jane’s unforgettable stories. Cassandra’s re-evaluation of her past eventually leads her to realise how blind she has been to the real cause of Isabella’s heartache and distress. Finding a way to guide Isabella towards true happiness, Cassandra is finally able to understand and celebrate the sacrifices she chose to make for her brilliant sister, Jane.”

Aisling Walsh is directing the series and also executive producing it alongside Hawes and Andrea Gibb. Hawes will next be seen in Netflix’s Scoop, based on Prince Andrew’s rather disastrous Newsnight interview. Hawes is playing the Prince’s former secretary, Amanda Thirsk.

Miss Austen is the perfect blend of intriguing mystery, vivid and engaging characters and beguiling period charm – BBC viewers certainly have a treat in store,” said Sue Deeks, Head of BBC Programme Acquisition. 

miss austen cast
Credit: MASTERPIECE / BBC

“To have this hugely entertaining female-driven story told by such a stellar cast, led by Keeley Hawes, as Bonnie Productions’ first drama is genuinely a dream come true. Gill Hornby has found an ingenious way into the Austen world, creating female characters modern audiences can empathise with and delight in. I’m so honoured to be bringing this wonderful novel to the screen in collaboration with the deeply talented trio of writer, Andrea Gibb, director, Aisling Walsh and producer, Stella Merz,” added executive producer Christine Langan. 

No release date for this one yet, but we’ll keep you updated on that.

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