Jane Austen’s final unfinished novel is being adapted into a lavish new drama series by Andrew Davies for ITV.
Sanditon, written just months before Austen’s death in 1817, tells the story of Charlotte Heywood, an impulsive and highly spirited young woman, and her spiky relationship with the wild and charming Sidney Parker.
After an accident sees the Heywood family transported from the rural hometown of Willingden to the up-and-coming seaside town of Sanditon, Charlotte is exposed to the intrigues of a town on the rise, and the people whose fortunes depend on its commercial success.
The story takes viewers from the West Indies to the dank alleyways of London, as Charlotte discovers herself and ultimately finds love.
Jane Austen wrote eleven chapters of the book before her untimely death. Andrew Davies, whose previous work includes Pride and Prejudice, War & Peace and Mr Selfridge, will pick up where she left off.
ITV’s Head of Drama Polly Hill, who commissioned the series said, “There is no one better to adapt her unfinished novel than Andrew who has an incredible track record for bold and original adaptations.”
Andrew Davies said it was a “privilege and a thrill” to develop Austen’s unfinished novel: “Jane Austen managed to write only a fragment of her last novel before she died - but what a fragment!”
The writer responsible for Colin Firth’s infamous wet shirt scene in the BBC’s Pride and Prejudice added: “Sanditon tells the story of the transformation of a sleepy fishing village into a fashionable seaside resort, with a spirited young heroine, a couple of entrepreneurial brothers, some dodgy financial dealings, a West Indian heiress, and quite a bit of nude bathing.”
The eight part series will begin filming next spring, and is being produced for ITV by Red Planet Pictures with co-production partners Masterpiece. BBC Studios will distribute the series internationally.