Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Redheads in Jane Austen?

I have always greatly admired redheads, especially those with a mass of curls and tons of freckles.

"Red hair occurs naturally on approximately 1–2% of the human population. It occurs more frequently (2–6%) in people of northern or western European ancestry, and less frequently in other populations." - Red hair page on Wikipedia

Since red hair pops up more frequently in Europeans, especially those in Great Britain and Ireland, there's a good possibility that some of Jane Austen's characters might have had red hair.
Filmmakers seem to think so too, take a look at how many red, auburn and ginger haired actors (or wigs) turn up in Jane Austen film adaptations!

Sense and Sensibility

In Sense & Sensibility 1995 all three Dashwood sisters have reddish tints to their hair. Emma Thompson who plays Elinor perhaps has the most red in her hair. And even though I love this film Jane Austen does say that Marianne has dark hair and Elinor has slightly lighter hair. 

In Sense & Sensibility 2008 John Dashwood and his young son Harry are both cast as redheads. Both are definitely wigs but they were still made to have red hair!

Pride and Prejudice

In Pride & Prejudice 2005 Mr. Bingley and his sister Caroline are both played by red haired actors. Kelly Reilly who plays Caroline Bingley is a true redhead but I'm not sure about Simon Woods because he's often a bit more blond in other roles (such as Cranford's Dr. Harrison). 

Although the 1940's adaptation of Pride and Prejudice was filmed in black and white the powerful actress cast as Elizabeth Bennet was Greer Garson, one of the most famous red heads of the silver screen. 
I'll admit it's rather odd to have a Lizzy with red hair but she still has those fine dark eyes and the red hair sort of adds a bit more fiery-ness and spunk to her personality . 

In the 2008 show Lost In Austen actress Lindsay Duncan was cast as a Lady Catherine with red hair!


In Emma 1996 Harriet Smith is cast as a rather dim-witted but sweet red head. Toni Collette is definitely not my idea of Harriet and in the book she's described as a pretty blond.

In Emma 1997 (ITV/A&E) the role of Mrs. Weston is taken on my auburn haired Samantha Bond. She does bring a great deal of elegance to the character which is quite charming! 

Mansfield Park

In my favorite Mansfield Park 1983 Samantha Bond appears as Maria Bertram with her auburn locks swept up ever so becomingly into the charming Regency styles. Actress Liz Crowther who plays Julia Bertram is also fairly ginger haired although in other TV films I've seen her in her hair was a bit lighter like a strawberry blond. 

Northanger Abbey

In the hilariously awful 1986 adaptation of Northanger Abbey actor Jonathan Coy portrays a red haired John Thorpe. I thought it was a very odd choice and somehow makes him that much more weird!


In my favorite Jane Austen adaptation Persuasion 1995 actor Corin Redgrave portrays an amazing version of Sir Walter Elliot. He's from the popular acting Redgrave family and has the same bright red hair that his sisters Lynne and Vanessa have. It's a little ironice to me that Sir Walter should have red hair because in the book he doesn't like "sandy" hair which isn't too far removed from ginger in some ways. :)

Can you think of any other redheads from Jane Austen adaptations?

Are there any Jane Austen characters (including the ones I mentioned) that you generally think of as having red hair?

Very Truly Your's, 


Bekah said...

I awarded your blog on my blog today!


Little Lady said...

Very interesting! Indeed I have noticed lately the abundance of red heads being cast in those films! funny!

Analiese said...

You have an interesting point! I like auborn hair a lot myself. :D

onewithbooks said...

In the 1995 Pride and Prejudice the woman Wickham's eye is drawn to just before Lydia - Mary King - she was a red head. There was even a comment made about her freckles.

Thu said...

Just discovered this post now... have you seen The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on Youtube? All redheads! :)

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