Rose Leslie and Keeley Hawes are to star in a BBC adaptation of Gill Hornby’s best-selling novel Miss Austen.

The four-part drama, adapted by Andrea Gibb, started filming in the UK last month and looks into the literary mystery around when Cassandra Austen burned the letters of her famous sister Jane.

Starring alongside Game Of Thrones star Leslie, 36, and Bodyguard actress Hawes, 47, is a cast including Spaced actress Jessica Hynes, The Nest actress Mirren Mack and Downton Abbey’s Phyllis Logan.

BBC Miss Austen
Keeley Hawes plays Jane Austen’s sister Cassandra (Robert Viglasky/BBC/PA)

There is also The Crown’s Kevin McNally, The Riot Club actor Max Irons, God’s Own Country actress Patsy Ferran, Harry Potter star Alfred Enoch and Bridgerton’s Calam Lynch.

First-look images have also been released by the corporation and show Hawes in the role of Cassandra, with Leslie starring as her friend Isabella.

Dressed in late Georgian-era clothing, they are pictured standing next to Hynes and Mack in what looks to be a kitchen.

Another image shows Cassandra looking towards the floor amid heaps of books.

The drama begins in 1830, after Jane’s death, and follows Cassandra as she races to see her friend Isabella who is about to lose her home after her father’s death.

Cassandra goes to help her friend, but her real motive is to find Jane’s private letters, which could destroy her reputation if left in the wrong hands.

Upon discovering the letters, Cassandra is transported back to her youth and in a flashback, viewers see a young version of her and Jane as they navigate the infatuations, family feuds and events that laid the foundations for Jane’s stories.

Sue Deeks, head of BBC programme acquisition, said: “Miss Austen is the perfect blend of intriguing mystery, vivid and engaging characters and beguiling period charm – BBC viewers certainly have a treat in store.”

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Game Of Thrones actress Rose Leslie stars as Isabella (Ian West/PA)

Christine Langan, executive producer, added: “To have this hugely entertaining, female-driven story told by such a stellar cast, led by Keeley Hawes, as Bonnie Productions’ first drama is genuinely a dream come true.

“Gill Hornby has found an ingenious way into the Austen world, creating female characters modern audiences can empathise with and delight in.

“I’m so honoured to be bringing this wonderful novel to the screen in collaboration with the deeply talented trio of writer, Andrea Gibb, director, Aisling Walsh and producer, Stella Merz.”

Susanne Simpson, executive producer, Masterpiece, said she was “thrilled” the adaptation was being made.

She said: “Miss Austen is a beautifully told story about the loves and losses of the Austen sisters.

“I’m thrilled that this heartfelt, romantic, and funny adaptation is in the hands of a remarkable ensemble cast led by the incredible Keeley Hawes.”

Austen has been previously portrayed by Anne Hathaway in the movie Becoming Jane and Olivia Williams in Miss Austen Regrets, which were both released in 2007.