A plea to the man who gave us Downton and Doctor Thorne, to bring alive the stories and characters of an under-noticed writer
Dear Julian Fellowes,
Having binge-watched your latest production, the Amazon Exclusive, “Doctor Thorne” like one who has suffered a too-intense withdrawal from Downton Abbey and the sort of high quality, addictive programming at which you excel without peer, I write you today with a plea — an especial plea — that I believe will be echoed by fans of costume/custom British drama everywhere: would you please bring some of the novels of Georgette Heyer to life?
Heyer was no Jane Austen, it is true, but as a twentieth century author with a knack for writing some superbly-researched, consistently entertaining fiction set in the Georgian and Regency periods, she is nearly peerless. You could spend the rest of your creative life selecting from her titles and fulfilling the dearest wish of her enthusiastic fans by bringing to the screen a pack of characters who jump from the page as vibrantly as ever did Austen’s Bennett family, and fairly crackle through our imaginations like your own Crawley crew.
Consider, if you will The Convenient Marriage, a hilarious page-turner in which the brash, barely-out-of-the-schoolroom Miss Horatia Winwood solves her elder sister’s inconvenient-but-dutiful engagement to the notoriously self-contained Earl of Rule by showing up at his house and offering herself in exchange. As the Earl and his young bride work some of the most counter-intuitive moves imaginable in order to seduce each other into an authentic marriage, the peripheral characters romp through this story like Georgian Marx Brothers, pulling noses, inspiring blue-wigged macaronis to call them out, taking to the High Toby with a brilliantly wrought cockney thief, and stumbling into abduction scenes they’ve mistaken for card parties. Please bring these people to life for us!
And while you’re at it, please consider allowing us to meet The Grand Sophy — part Mary Poppins, part Annie Oakley — the irrepressible horsewoman and diplomat who keeps a small, ladylike gun in her handmuff and an Italian Greyhound beneath her skirts. Please produce four nights of False Colors and have Kit Fancot travel from Vienna to London on a hunch that his twin is in trouble, so we can delight in his flighty “charming peagoose” of a mother, and her ardent, indulgent and fearfully fat cicisbeo, Sir Bonamy. And if your taste in some season is running toward darker stories, please allow us to watch the Duke of Avon and his abused-but-valiant French ward (think Audrey Tautou!) wend their way through the fascinating and disturbing tale of These Old Shades! Show us how an unattractive heroine, married as part of A Civil Contract, manages to persevere and win everything by means of her simple human decency.
These are great stories, Mr. Fellowes, and while Anthony Trollope has his charms, Georgette Heyer has a particularly winsome way around a character. We avid admirers of her work, equally enthralled to yours, would be your most appreciative, immediate and repeat viewers. We wait in joyful hope for you to turn your attention Heyer-ward.
Multitude-containing Georgette Heyer fans the world over