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The University of Southampton

Music academics help BBC recreate a Jane Austen Regency ball

Published: 7 May 2013

Music staff at the University of Southampton will feature in a documentary to air on BBC2 at 9pm, Friday 10 May 2013. The programme, called ‘Pride and Prejudice: Having a Ball’, follows a team of experts recreating a Regency ball in honour of the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s popular novel.

Professor Jeanice Brooks and Dr Wiebke Thormählen chose music for the programme using Jane Austen's family music books – manuscripts which the novelist kept of music which interested her and she played at home. Filming for ‘Having a Ball’ took place at the University’s Hartley Library Special Collections and Turners Sims concert venue, as well as at Chawton House Library near Alton. Chawton House is the former home of Austen’s brother and has research links with the University through its unique collection of books focusing on women's writing in English from 1600 to 1830.

Jeanice is one of a number of students and staff to contribute to a BBC2 documentary
Professor Jeanice Brooks

In addition, Professor Brooks and Dr Thormählen put together a band to play at the ball featuring Southampton Music staff; Professor Adrian Chandler (violin), Katy Bircher (flute) and Joe Crouch (cello). Professor William Drabkin constructed musical arrangements from keyboard sources in the Austen music books, while PhD student Samantha Carrasco (piano) and undergraduate singer Emma Bryant also took part in the filming.

The first readers of Pride and Prejudice in 1813 would have understood the workings of a private ball. ‘Pride and Prejudice: Having a Ball’, presented by social historian Amanda Vickery, sets out to recapture this detail and aims to enable modern audiences to understand Austen’s novel fully by reimagining the time in which she lived.

For more details about the programme, click here

For more details about Music at Southampton, click here

For more information about Chawton House Library and English at Southampton, click here

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