my favorite non-Austen period dramas

I am not here to bash Jane Austen, y’all. You know this. But since each of her six major novels have gotten at least two film or TV adaptions (and some maaaaany more than that), I thought I would take the time today to look at some different period dramas. Enjoy!

Little Dorrit (2008)

Little Dorrit is a beautiful (and beautifully bleak) look at humanity, loss, and love. Long before I knew Andy Serkis as Gollum, I was chilled by his portrayal of the dastardly villain Rigaud. While Serkis is certainly a stand-out, the whole cast does a great job. Matthew Macfadyen’s Arthur Clennam is one of my favorite fictional heroes of all time, and Amy (the titular ‘Little Dorrit’) is an inspiration. John Lunn (Downton Abbey) composed a breathtaking soundtrack–one of my favorite aspects of the series!

The Young Victoria (2009)


And no, I’m not talking about Queen Victoria. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Emily Blunt KILLS IT in this film. Besides her stellar performance, The Young Victoria boasts a great supporting cast, a lovely soundtrack, incredible costumes, a heartwarming (and sometimes tearjerking) romance, and zippy, fast-paced, smart writing from the man behind Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes.

Bleak House (2005)

Just finished watching this miniseries the other day, and while it doesn’t quite match the brilliance of Little Dorrit, Bleak House is still an excellent Dickens adaption. Many of the characters are lovable: Sergeant George, Ada, even Mr. Guppy (eventually). John Lunn also composed the soundtrack for this miniseries, and I wish it had been released to the public. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Bleak House and Little Dorrit are two series that I’m pretty much always up for rewatching. If you only watch a couple titles on this list, pick those two!

Little Women (1994)

Yes, I know people are still gushing over the 2019 adaption of Little Women. And I did like it. But the 1994 adaption will always be my favorite, my happy place. From the moment I hear those first few notes, I’m swept away. Cozy, lovely vibes!

Nicholas Nickleby (2002)

It’s been a while since I last saw Nicholas Nickleby, but it’s a great period drama. Not having read the book, I can’t tell how much has been changed or left out (I’m assuming quite a bit, since this is a film and not a miniseries). But what there is, is really good. I love the cast especially.

North & South (2004)

Richard Armitage as Mr. Thornton?


I adore this miniseries. The music! The atmosphere! The cast! Margaret does annoy me a lot of the time (I think it’s partly the actress, and partly the character herself), but overall nothing can really get in the way of my deep and abiding love for North & South. Again I say…MR. THORNTON.

The Scarlet Pimpernel (1982)

Anthony Andrews is Sir Percy.

His fake persona really annoys me, actually. (Do I feel a kinship with Chauvelin over that? Maybe.) But when he drops the act to rescue people or have a real conversation with Marguerite? I’m a goner. (The whole “Trouble, m’dear?” scene is TOO MUCH.) Jane Seymour makes a lovely Marguerite. Ian McKellen is, as always, pitch-perfect. And the soundtrack is glorious. So much fun!

Did you spot any favorite period dramas on this list? Which ones would you add? Let me know in the comments!


25 thoughts on “my favorite non-Austen period dramas

  1. Love this! Thanks for the Dickens recommendations. I loved The Personal History of David Copperfield that came out recently as well as the 2017 BBC Little Women.


  2. I also love the 1994 Little Women best. The 2019 one has wonderful casting overall and is a good film, but the 1994 one is just…amazing.

    I want to see/read The Scarlet Pimpernel and North and South so much!

    Love this list! While Jane Austen is ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL, I always love recommendations outside of her stories, too. ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. The soundtrack alone elevates Little Women 1994 over the 2019 version! (In my opinion.)

      I haven’t read North & South yet, but I’ve heard it’s super good. One of these days!

      Thanks for commenting–I’m glad you enjoyed this list. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. NORTH AND SOUTH!!!! RICHARD ARMITAGE!!!! Perfection itself, in other words!
    Oh I LOVE the book The Scarlet Pimpernel; now I’ve got to watch that movie. Even if I hear it’s not quite as close to the book as I might like.


    1. Perfection indeed!!

      The Scarlet Pimpernel movie actually combines two books–TSP and one of its sequels, El Dorado. Even if it doesn’t follow every plot point, I believe it does a really good job at capturing the spirit of Orczy’s books/characters. โค

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love and own all of these (and many more, since I’m a period drama addict). I adore Bleak House, though my mom can’t understand why (“it’s so BLEAK!”). I think that is a masterful adaptation. It starts out a little slow, but then those short episodes start flying past and pretty soon you’re at the end and feeling sad the journey has ended. I originally bought a region-free DVD player and North & South from England, since I wanted to watch it and wasn’t sure it would ever come across the pond — thankfully, I’ve now replaced it with a US copy that will play in anything. Love it. It’s like P&P but people work for a living. ๐Ÿ˜‰


    1. Little Dorrit and Bleak House are shows that I watch semi-regularly with my mom and oldest sister. โค Very much agree about the episodes flying by!

      "it's like P&P but people work for a living"–NO TRUER WORDS.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ahhh, a period drama post *beams*

    The only one on this list I’ve watched is Bleak House, actually. I liked that one a lot, though. Mr. Jarndyce (the movie guy, not the book guy) is pretty great. I wanted him to end up with Esther and was SLIGHTLY annoyed when he didn’t, even though I can understand why it didn’t happen.

    My favorite period dramas–S&S 2008, P&P 2005, Little Women 2019.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Going back to my roots. ๐Ÿ˜‚

      Okay, the first few times I watched Bleak House when I was a lot younger, I TOTALLY wanted Esther to end up with Mr. Jarndyce. I found the guy she actually ends up with to be so bland. But when I watched it a couple weeks ago, I very much switched sides. =) But Mr. Jarndyce is still a great guy, no doubt about it.

      All your favorite period dramas are GORGEOUS and WONDERFUL films (or, in the case of S&S, miniseries).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas.

        I watched Bleak House… what, two or three years ago? I definitely wasn’t a Woodcourt fan, and I thought Esther had much easier & more natural chemistry with Jarndyce. (Even though the same definitely wasn’t true in the book.) Ah, well. C’est la vie.

        WELL THANK YOU ๐Ÿ˜€ I think so too xD

        Liked by 1 person

  6. The Scarlet Pimpernel is brilliant. And yes, Anthony Andrews IS Sir Percy!

    I have to skip the Rigaurd scenes in Little Dorrit, don’t remember them being that bad in the books, Andy Serkis is TOO good in being bad.

    I’ve seen that Nicholas Nickleby years ago, but more recently I saw the one with James D’Arcy (and baby Tom Hiddleston briefly!). Which while darker (warning, there is an SA scene which I think took what was in the book as creepy and make it much worse), I think was more accurate, but I’d have to reread the book (and I haven’t managed to make myself reread Dickens yet) and rewatch both to compare.

    I’ve not seen Bleak House. It’s been several years since I read it too, but I just don’t know that I could force myself to reread it. I might just have to watch and not compare.


    1. Oooh, I really like seeing James D’Arcy pop up in films and TV shows! I should give that version of NN a try–and thanks for the warning.

      Dickens’ books can be very dense. I like to watch a TV or film adaption before attempting to tackle a new title of his. =)


  7. Period dramas are exquisite and so is this post. These are all great picks.

    Claire Foy is my favorite actress and Emily Blunt is my second-favorite. They are both lights in my life. xD

    My favorite non-Austen period dramas are Wives and Daughters, the 1994 Little Women (I’m with you!! it’ll always be my favorite, though the others are good, too) the Anne of Green Gables movies, the Sarah, Plain and Tall movies, and many, many more.

    Love this post. ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. Thank you!!

      Emily Blunt received Queen Status in my eyes ever since I watched A Quiet Place–she’s fabulous. (Have you seen The Devil Wears Prada??)

      YES, the Anne of Green Gables movies! I was trying to stick with ‘bonnet dramas’, for the most part, so I didn’t include those. But I love both Anne movies so much.

      I saw Sarah, Plain and Tall AGES ago. I should hunt it down and give it a rewatch!


  8. The only one of these I’ve watched is North & South, and I LOVED it! It helped that we watched all in one day with a bunch of friends/family–definite positive associations. ๐Ÿ™‚ Mr. Thorton is the best, and honestly, I like Margaret, too.
    We do joke that it’s the “people brooding out windows” miniseries, for obvious reasons. XD We also call Mr. Thorton “Mr. Thorton Oakenshield”, because of the casting. XD


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