Let us present, in celebration of the 200th Anniversary of Pride and Prejudice this year, our featured author for February – Emma Tennant. Mistress of the ‘Classic Sequel’, Emma has authored a whole host of novels in this genre, including imaginative sequels to Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Emma and Wuthering Heights. For readers who couldn’t bear to part with Lizzie, Cathy or Emma, you have only to look to Emma Tennant’s Heathcliff’s Tale or Pemberley Revisited to imagine what might have happened next…
Below, Emma gives her brilliant thoughts on the responsibility of finishing another writer’s (Austen and Brontë’s no less!) work:
Why, after finishing a classic novel, do readers so badly want to know what happens next? The impulse could be just natural curiosity–or a perhaps it’s a real desire to find out what happens to their favourite characters in a brilliant new plot.
My novel Heathcliff’s Tale is an example of the way in which the continuation of a famous novel can lead the reader into a fascinating new world packed with possibilities. In Wuthering Heights, the reader never learns what happens after Heathcliff and Cathy can no longer see each other. To me, the answer seemed simple: Heathcliff had always been the poor man looked down on–and the only way out of that quandary for him was to make a great pile of money! In my imagination, Heathcliff went to America (of course he did!), and being no fool he came back to the woman he had always loved with a fat lot of money in his purse. His new pleasure was now to torment those rich and ill-mannered who had jostled him from his natural birthright into a state of dependency. Now Heathcliff was rich he could take Cathy as his own while the world goggled at his splendid new way of life.
The love story of the most famous romantic coupling in English history has so far been strangely overlooked by writers, and I now hope that readers of Healthcliff’s Tale will identify with Heathcliff and Cathy’s story and use it to reflect on their own experiences with love, money and revenge.
Jane Austen is irresistible when it comes to sequels. Pride and Prejudice is a natural choice because it offers so many opportunities for characters to snobbishly advance in the world of high society. I hope that my sequel to Pride and Prejudice will give almost as much pleasure to the reader as when they first discovered Jane Austen. How could we live without more of Elizabeth Bennett’s story? Or the horrors of Lady Catherine de Burgh, or thrilling Darcy, or even the Bennett sisters and their friends? In my sequel Pemberley, read about Elinor and Marianne who conduct their correspondence with the cattiness we expect from Austen. Sequels are the easiest way to re-enter Jane Austen’s world–and hopefully they create a wonderful new plot in their own right! In Emma in Love, my sequel to Emma, the heroine –handsome clever and rich–is seen struggling with a hitherto unknown passion. She might be cool in the original, but in Emma in Love Emma certainly has many lessons to learn when it comes to love and bad behaviour….
Born in London, Emma Tennant was educated at St Paul’s Girls’ School and spent the World War II years and her childhood summers at the family’s faux Gothic mansion The Glen in Peeblesshire. Her family also owned estates in Trinidad. Tennant grew up in the modish London of the 1950s and 1960s. She worked as a travel writer for Queen magazine and an editor for Vogue, publishing her first novel, The Colour of Rain, under a pseudonym when she was twenty-six. Between 1975 and 1979, she edited a literary magazine, Bananas, which helped launch the careers of several young novelists. A large number of books by Tennant have followed: thrillers, children’s books, fantasies, and several revisionist takes on classic novels, including a sequel to Pride and Prejudice called Pemberley. In later years, she began to treat her own life in such books as Burnt Diaries (1999), which details her affair with Ted Hughes. Tennant has been married four times, including to the journalist and author Christopher Booker and the political writer Alexander Cockburn. She has two daughters and a son, author Matthew Yorke. In April 2008, she married her partner of 33 years, Tim Owens.