All Things Georgette

Heyer Films: Mythconceptions – All Things Georgette

Why are some myths so persistent? An idea takes hold and even though it’s false it can live on in people’s minds for years. Somebody once said that Georgette Heyer never wanted her books made into films. People cite the awful 1949 film of her novel, The Reluctant Widow, as the reason. They also believe she left instructions in her will forbidding her descendants from selling film rights to her books. BUT IT’S NOT TRUE. As Georgette herself would say, it’s a bag of moonshine, a bouncer, a hum.

Georgette always wanted her books made into films.
Georgette always wanted her books made into films.


In 1925, Georgette pressed her agent to sell the film rights to her Medieval novel, Simon the Coldheart. In 1935, she told him she thought Regency Buck would make a ‘Super film’ and in 1936 Fox considered filming The Talisman Ring. Georgette indulged in ‘pipe-dreams of film-rights’ and in 1944 sold a film option for Friday’s Child. Nothing came of it, so in 1946 she was thrilled The Reluctant Widow was actually being filmed. Unfortunately, the movie was so unlike her original story, Heyer was horrified. Yet, even after that awful version of her witty novel she still went on selling film rights to her books. In the 1950s alone she sold film options for These Old Shades, The Conqueror, Arabella and at least four other novels.

Georgette loathed The Reluctant Widow 1949 movie.
Georgette loathed The Reluctant Widow 1949 movie.


Of course, selling a film right doesn’t guarantee a film will be made. As her fans know only too well, we’re still waiting for a fabulous Heyer movie or TV series to hit the screen. Since Heyer’s death, many film options for her novels have been sold but so far none has got to ‘green light’. Now there’s news that a film of The Grand Sophy is in the works. While Heyer fans everywhere wait for a brilliant, witty, superbly acted film of one of her novels, Sara-Mae Tuson and Beth Keehn have set the ball rolling with an entertaining Georgette Heyer trailer as part of their Indiegogo fundraiser for a Heyer podcast series.

Georgette would have loved a film of The Grand Sophy.
Georgette would have loved a film of The Grand Sophy.

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26 thoughts on “Heyer Films: Mythconceptions – All Things Georgette”

    1. Hi Brenda well I’ve been asking around and it seems that things have ground to a halt with the Grand Sophy film. At least for now. Not sure why it’s proving so hard to get a film or TV series up of a Heyer novel. They’d make such great movies and there’s the Downton Abbey audience would love them I’m sure.

      1. Are jullian fellowes or Carl Davies just tired or bored… heyers novels would be perfect vehicles for them to script….jeez, or are they just blind?

          1. It’s tricky, because filmmakers in general always want their story to be a bit different from the original book and this is an attitude strongly held by most people in the industry. I do think, however, that an intelligent director could make a fabulous version of a Heyer novel that would please both fans and the general movie-goer. Thanks for posting. Happy New Year!

  1. Really really wish they would do a series of her books, much like the British George Gently or Death in Paradise or other detective shows they run. It would not matter that each one was a totally different story. They did several Jane Austen books. Why not Heyer. Her tales are soooooooooo captivating.

    1. Hi Charlotte, I totally agree with you and I’m ever hopeful of a film or even better a TV series of one or more of Heyer’s novels. With the right script they’d make fabulous viewing and given the success of Austen and Downton Abbey you’d think it would be on the cards. Here’s hoping.

    1. The Heyer Estate owns the rights to all of her novels and short stories and is managed by the Ampersand Agency in the UK. Hope that helps.

    1. The rights to all Heyer novels and short stories are owned by the Heyer Estate which is managed by the Ampersand Agency in the UK.

  2. Teresa Broderick

    Could we not petition a tv studio about doing her novels? Probably a daft idea but maybe they don’t realise how many fans she actually has.

    1. Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely! I am an octogenarian but remember how I loved all of G. Heyers books that I read, and that means most of the regency romances.I started in early teens, and later on re – read a number of them. They would make wonderful movies, especially with the modern day technology and costume finesse that is available. Jane Austen’s movies have been a treat, for the story and for all the glamor of surroundings and fashions. Let us all clammer for some of Ms Heyer’s movies, and maybe we will be able to enjoy a little of the past, and ignore some of the horrific vulgar pictures of the modern day. Do we really need to have horror and violence flashed at us from the screen. Is our modern day violence, vulgarity and horror not enough? We are confronted with it on a daily basis, let us enjoy a little reprieve from it. Surely there is at least one brave director, producer, who could bring the regency era to the modern world.?

      1. Thanks for posting, Rosemary. I’m so pleased that Georgette Heyer has given you so much pleasure over so many years. Here’s hoping we will see her on screen before too much longer!

  3. I’ve never been able to understand why the BBC TV does goodness knows how many Austen revivals (much as I like P&P and can remember possibly the first, with Alan Badel as a truly sexy Mr Darcy), yet ignores the best of GH.

    I can recall pouncing on the one and only showing I recall on TV of The Reluctant Widow movie (one of my favourite books) and being so horrified by the travesty apparent in the first scene alone that I switched it off. The story lines are straight-forward in TV terms, there’s always some humour and of course romance – how I’d love to see a faithful adaptation of Cotillion for instance, and a seriously faithful one of A Civil Contract, which always brings a quiet tear to my eye at the end.

    Remembering what a ghastly mess was made of the film of one of my favourite teen books The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge quite recently, I fear that any Heyer adaptation would coarsen wonderful characterisations and intricate story lines and ignore her historical accuracy.

    1. Such a perceptive post – thank you so much Sonia. I 100% agree with you about Cotillion and A Civil Contract – if only SOMEONE would see the brilliant potential of these two books among so many other good ones! Actually, I do know that a famous screenwriter was planning to write a script for one of the Heyer novels but these things take ages and the challenge is for a good producer to get one over the line. This is not an easy thing to do and of course, once you get green light then you have to hope and pray that they get it right! Thanks again for posting.

      1. jk – a year later, I hope this finds you well. I am now even more amazed by the lack of interest in GH’s novels after recently seeing a couple of trailers of the appalling Bridgerton (and attempting to read one page of the first novel – made Barbara Cartland look like Hilary Mantel). The entertainment media have a goldmine in Heyer, and they go for a bit of rusty old tin?

        1. Hi Sonia, well, it’s interesting to see what takes people’s fancy these days and it is a huge oversight on the part of movie makers, TV producers and streaming services that – to date – they continue to overlook Miss Heyer. There are so many of her novels that would make great screen stories. I have dreams myself of one day producing a documentary and writing a screenplay of more than one of her novels. I continue to hope and there are some signs of movement on the horizon so fingers are firmly crossed!

  4. peter rietbergen

    dear Heyer-addicts,

    of course we’d all love to see a Heyer-novel made into a film, or, even better, into a TV-series. But isn’t it precisely her quality as a superb writer of (witty) dialogue and equally witty observations that will daunt any script-writer to even consider the task of turning those into something which would still captivate us?

    1. It’s a very good point, but if you look at various Austen productions, there are some excellent ones out there so with the right screenwriter I do think there could be a terrific version of a Heyer novel brought to life on the screen. You just need the right people – those who “get” Heyer and who wouldn’t try to turn her into farce. Thanks for posting. Happy New Year.

    2. Peter, I thought the superb Wolf Hall could never be translated to the screen, but it worked (helped by brilliant actors, set designer and director).

      1. Exactly what Heyer’s novels need. A successful production is definitely possible with a great script and the right team in place.

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