While I was chatting with my mum and one of my cousins yesterday evening, I pondered how it would be a wonderful thing if one could have fantasy leagues for Jane Austen characters similar to what one does for athletes or Civil War generals . Given that I will be spending some time in Canada with some fellow fans of Jane Austen over the next few days, I thought it would be a worthwhile thing to spend at least one of those evenings having a humorous time going through a Jane Austen event (something I may liveblog if it comes off) where this game is tried out, hopefully for the amusement and imitation of others, especially as I am not familiar with a fantasy draft for Jane Austen ever being undertaken and I think it would be worthwhile to do so. At any rate, here are the rounds and rules I propose, as follows.
First, the Jane Austen fantasy draft will be made up of several rounds in alternating order in which the first person who picks in the first round will be the last person who picks in the second round and first again in the third round, and so on, similar to the way that many fantasy football drafts are undertaken. Each person’s choice must be justified, so that someone who picks a character for a given round must justify their character by explaining what they like about the character and how that character will interact with the other players on the team. Cross-talk about the choices made by others is encouraged as well. With that said, here are the rounds and some of the most obvious eligible characters for those positions on one’s Jane Austen fantasy team. First, though, here are the abbreviations for the novels:
Nothanger Abbey (NA)
Sense & Sensibility (SS)
Pride & Prejudice (PP)
Mansfield Park (MP)
Lady Susan (LS)
Round One: Heroines
Obviously, Jane Austen teams are going to be centered around the heroines, who Jane Austen gives more detail about than their heroes. The classic choices for heroines are as follows: Catherine Morland (NA), Elinor or Marianne Dashwood (SS), Elizabeth Bennet (PP), Emma Woodhouse (Em), Fanny Price (MP), Anne Eliot (Pe). Bonus points for creativity come for choosing Lady Susan (LS) or one of the heroines from the juvenilia (Ju).
Round Two: Heroes
Here again the choices are rather straightforward, as each heroine has exactly one hero: Henry Tilney (NA), Edward Ferrars and Col. Brandon (SS), Fitzwilliam Darcy (PP), George Knightly (Em), Edmund Bertram (MP), and Captain Wentworth (Pe). Any more obscure choices from LS or Ju would likewise be worthy of a spirited conversation and worthwhile discussion.
Round Three: Mr. Wrongs
Almost all of the heroines (other than Elinor (SS)) has at least one (if not more) men who distract the heroine(s) from their true romantic destiny. In order to spice up the romantic plot, here at least one (if not two) such men must be chosen to complicate the action: John Thorpe (NA), Willoughby (SS), Mr. Collins and George Wickham (PP), Mr. Elton and Frank Churchill (Em), Henry Crawford (MP), and Mr. Eliot (Pe). Again, more obscure choices or even somewhat daring ones (like choosing, for example, Harriet Smith for Emma or Charlotte Lucas for Elizabeth Bennet) would be acceptable and would warrant some serious discussion.
Round Four: Confidants
The various heroines, of course, have people in whom they can trust as worthwhile best friends, which give them someone to talk to with regards to the ups and downs of their romantic life. Choose among the following or come up with more surprising or obscure choices of your own: Elinor Tilney (NA), either Elinor or Marianne Dashwood if you have chosen the other (SS), Jane Bennet or Charlotte Lucas (PP), Harriet Smith (Em), William Price (MP), and Lady Russell (Pe).
Round Five: Frenemies
Like mistaken potential romantic partners, frenemies help spice up life by giving awkward personal interactions to involve oneself in. Choose among the following options or come up with and defend a more obscure choice: Isabella Thorpe (NA), Lucy Steele (SS), Caroline Bingley (PP), Jane Fairfax (Em), Mary Crawford (MP), and Mrs. Clay (Pe).
Round Six: Families
Here you must choose whether you want your heroine to have families like: the sensible and down-to-earth Morlands (NA), the poor but loving Dashwoods (SS), the Bennets (PP), the Woodhouses (Em), the Prices/Bertrams (NA), or the impecunious Eliots. One could also choose the Watsons, for example, for a bit of distinction and obscurity.
Round Seven: Locales
Obviously, your romantic plot must take place somewhere, right? Choose two locations among the following: London (most of the novels), Bath (NA, Em, Pe), Brighton (PP), Portsmouth (NA), or any of the neighborhoods and shires of the novels themselves. The homes of the heroines can be chosen from either their own homes in their novels, the homes of the families they pick, or any other choice, at your leisure.
Estimated time of play: Probably a couple of hours would be sufficient for a lively round, but it may take longer if the conversation is particularly spirited.
 See, for example: