Women’s History Month: Six Movies About Real Women Writers

Posted by E.H. Kern

Here at Quirk Books we continue to celebrate National Women’s History Month. This time we bring you six movies based on the lives of real women writers.

Becoming Jane (2007): In 1795, Jane Austen (1775–1817) met and fell in love with Tom Lefroy, the nephew of the Austen family’s neighbors. Jane and Tom wished to marry, but their families intervened because Tom was still a student. Becoming Jane tells the story of their romance, with Anne Hathaway as Jane and James McAvoy as Tom.

Saving Mr. Banks (2013): Saving Mr. Banks is about the adaptation of the children’s book Mary Poppins for the silver screen and the tug of war between the book’s author P.L. Travers (1899–1996), played by Emma Thompson, and Walt Disney, played by Tom Hanks. Saving Mr. Banks received an Oscar nomination for its original score.

Sylvia (2003): Forty years after her death by suicide, the life and work of poet Sylvia Plath (1932–1963) was portrayed in the movie Sylvia. Sylvia tells the story of Sylvia’s (Gwyneth Paltrow) marriage to English poet Ted Hughes (Daniel Craig). Sylvia and Ted had two children together and were married from 1956 until her death, by which time they had separated but not divorced.

Iris (2001): Iris is based on the memoir of John Bayley, husband of Iris Murdoch (1919–1999) from 1956 until her death in 1999. The movie chronicles their unconventional relationship set against the backdrop of Iris succumbing to Alzheimer’s disease during the last couple of years of her life. Judi Dench and Jim Broadbent play the elderly Iris and John, while Kate Winslet and Hugh Bonneville portray them in their youth.

Magic Beyond Words: The J.K. Rowling Story (2011): Magic Beyond Words is based on the life of J.K. Rowling (1965– ) from her childhood through her adolescence and loss of her mother to the creation of Harry Potter and his world of wizards. The adult Joanna Rowling is played by Poppy Montgomery.

The Hours (2002): The Hours is not a movie exclusively about a writer. It is a movie about how Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway affects three women living during different time periods. One of these women is Virginia Woolf (1882–1941) herself, played by Nicole Kidman, whose performance in this film won her an Oscar for Best Actress. The Hours is based on Michael Cunningham’s novel of the same name.