If you aren’t one of the 60 million people who watched the “Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet” series on YouTube, here’s a quick rundown: The series, created by Bernie Su and Hank Green, is a modern take on “Pride and Prejudice” in which Elizabeth Bennet starts a vlog that turns her family into Internet superstars.
Now, Lydia, the 20-year-old younger sister, is getting her turn in the spotlight, with a new novel told from her perspective written by series writers Kate Rorick and Rachel Kiley. “When we finished the Web series, every storyline was pretty much wrapped up except for Lydia’s,” Rorick says.
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“In the series, Lydia is portrayed from Lizzie’s perspective, but the book is told from Lydia’s perspective and told in her own voice so [readers] can see how she thinks and reacts to the world around her,” Kiley adds.
A social presence
Though Lizzie was the main focus on the series, Rorick and Kiley saw early on that fans connected with Lydia, too. The fictional sisters had their own social media accounts — with more followers than most IRL people have — and fans reached out to Lydia.
“A lot of girls messaged Lydia saying she helped them see relationships in their lives differently or come to terms with certain things,” Kiley says. “It’s a fascinating response to a Web series we didn’t necessarily expect, but it’s really cool to see that sort of thing.”
Dickens, with sexting
The Bennet sisters aren’t the only characters from classic literature Rorick and Kiley think would kill it on social media today.
“All of the Dickens tales have such gossips,” Rorick says. “Letter writing was an art back then. They would spend half their days writing letters. Elizabeth Barrett Browning would probably have a huge text affair."
Kiley is experimenting with classic literature in a new way: “My friend and I are talking about doing literary adaptations with cats. This may be a thing that happens in the future.”
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