Lecture: Undressing Mr Darcy ‘a scandalous delight’

When Colin Firth emerged from the lake dripping wet as Mr Darcy in the BBC’s 1995 dramatisation of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, many women world-wide certainly dreamed of undressing Mr Darcy. Rather than literally undressing Austen’s dashing hero, Ian Kelly, accalimed British biographer and actor, will take a revealing look at the life and times which shaped Regency gentlemen such as Darcy.

Kelly’s focus is London’s ultimate dandy: Beau Brummell, the man whose clothes defied wrinkles and whose breeches clung to his legs like a second skin.

Beau Brummell was the subject of Kelly’s 2006 biography which was described as ‘a magisterial and utterly gripping parable for modern times’ (The Independent), ‘superlative – as good as biography gets’ (The Times), and ‘witty, vibrant, a tour de force’ (The Telegraph). It was subsequently adapted for television by the BBC – Beau Brummell: This Charming Man.

Ian Kelly’s ‘biography of the year’ on Beau Brummell.

Brummell cut a dramatic swathe through late Georgian society. A favourite of the Prince of Wales, he became the Age of Elegance’s arbiter of taste – setting in motion a fashion revolution that defines the way men and women dress across the world to this day.

In this lecture, Ian Kelly will present new images from his lavishly-illustrated biography to reveal the man behind the ‘Beau’ image, and unlock the scandalous world half-hidden by the decorous façade of the world’s first metropolis.

This is a story of the modern age as much as it is Brummell’s own – one in which men’s fashions and masculinity were redefined. But as Kelly demonstrates, the clothes and the fame were only part of this intriguing, complex man.

Ian Kelly comes to Te Papa courtesy of Wellington’s Decorative & Fine Arts Society, and with a history of rave reviews. Stephen Fry described his lecture on Brummell as ‘All the wonders of an incomparable age touched on with wit and mastery’, while Stephen Calloway of the V&A boldly declared that ‘Ian Kelly gave one of the wittiest and most informative talks we have ever had’.

What other recommendations do you need to get out of bed on a Sunday morning? And yes,  Kelly’s lecture is on a Sunday morning but what an interesting one it will be!

When: Sunday 26 August 2012 , 10.30am-12.30pm, Soundings Theatre, Te Papa

Cost: Friends & WeDFAS members $20, public $25, students $15

To book your place visit Te Papa’s event’s page.

Finally, Jane Austen fans beware: Ian Kelly’s ‘talk on Brummell was a scandalous delight; it has changed forever the way I’ll think about Georgian England.’ Director of the Jane Austen Festival.

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