Entertainment & Arts

Novelist Philippa Gregory blocks film adaptations rewriting history

Philippa Gregory Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Philippa Gregory said she opposes historical fact and fiction being treated as 'one and the same'

Author Philippa Gregory has said she now insists on a "clause" in her contract with film makers to stop them changing historic facts in her work.

"I could not tolerate script writers changing the history of the novels," she told the BBC.

"The temptation of film makers to treat historical fact and fiction as if they were one and the same thing... is something I oppose."

Gregory's book The Other Boleyn Girl was adapted for film in 2008.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Scarlett Johansson, Eric Bana and Natalie Portman (l-r) starred in the film version of The Other Boleyn Girl

Gregory told the BBC that script writers "of course have the right to adapt the fiction to a drama".

She added: "It's one of the interesting issues that emerges when writing a hybrid like historical fiction, when the history is on the record but the fiction (the material of the novel) is of course imagined."

The best-selling author added that this was a new clause for her contracts and that it "doesn't apply to works already in development, but I imagine I will try to apply it in all future contracts".

She was asked about the film adaptation during a talk at Edinburgh International Book Festival, saying that "having gone to all the trouble of getting it right in the novel" it was frustrating to have the content altered, The Times reported.

'Getting it right'

She told The Times: "Let me assure you that when the producers have put £72m on their film production, they are not going to stop because I say, 'that hood is not right'.

"They are going to say, 'thank you honey, have another glass of champagne'.

"Once you are in a big, big, massive, expensive production like that, your importance and interest diminishes probably proportionately. So I was 72 million times less important than I was at the beginning of it."

She said of changes made to the history in her books: "It distresses me so much when I am trying to defend the history of the film, having gone to the trouble of getting it right in the novel.

"You know, three years' work and now you are saying it doesn't matter. It matters to me very much."

Two of Gregory's books have been adapted by the BBC for drama series - The White Queen and The Other Boleyn Girl.

She told The Times that when the latter was adapted for the corporation in 2003, she was closely involved in the script.


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