Dickens biopic brings the author’s love life to light

Charles Dickens fans are sure to have great expectations for the upcoming British movie, The Invisible Woman, based on the adulterous love life of the author.


The biopic will star Ralph Fiennes, who is set to take on the role of Dickens, whose 200th birthday was this month. Fiennes, who is internationally known for playing Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter, will also be directing the film. In addition, it has recently been revealed that Tom Hollander (Pirates of the Caribbean, Pride and Prejudice) will be playing Dickens’ friend and frequent co-writer, Wilkie Collins.

The film – which is an adaptation of Claire Tomalin’s book of the same name – has been penned by hard-working British screenwriter, Abi Morgan, who was responsible for  the writing of The Iron Lady and Shame and Birdsong last year.

It will be a BBC Films co-production movie, headed by Director of BBC Films, Christine Langan, who is thrilled to have Fiennes on board. The Guardian reported her saying, “It is a natural and extremely exciting step for Ralph Fiennes to take on The Invisible Woman following Coriolanus“. She added. ‘BBC Films is very proud to be supporting the project’.

Tomalin’s book recounts the affair Dickens had with actress Ellen ‘Nelly’ Terman. The theatre performer was airbrushed from Dicken’s official history, as it would have ruined both their reputations. Playing the young actress is Felicity Jones (Brideshead Revisited , Cemetery Junction) with Kristin Scott Thomas (The Woman in the Fifth) as Dickens’ long-suffering wife Catherine.

Dickens and Nelly met in 1857 during the making of a Wilkie Collins and Dickens co-production, The Frozen Deep; the author was 45 and Nelly was just 18 (which was just one year older than Dickens’ youngest daughter) when they got together.

One year on, Dickens separated from his wife, yet he kept his relationship with Nelly a secret. It would have been a disgrace on her image as an actress, as well as Dickens’ valued reputation. Nelly was loyal to Dickens and stayed with him until he died. After his death in 1870, she married a man 12 years her junior, after disguised her age as 23, rather than 37.

There have been other adaptations of his affair, including the 2007 play, Little Nell, which was directed by Peter Hall. It is hoped that The Invisible Woman will be released later this year to coincide with the Dickens’ 200th birthday. We will keep you posted on the latest news.

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