HarperCollins has agreed a deal with independent producer Rebecca Gushin to adapt Booker Prize-winning author Penelope Fitzgerald’s Human Voices for television.
Originally published in 1980, the novel tells the story of life at the BBC during the Blitz, at a time when the Concert Hall was turned into a unisex dormitory and became a target for enemy bombers. It is not known if a broadcaster is attached yet.
Rebecca Gushin has worked as a casting professional for nearly 20 years in TV (“Billions”, “The Benders” and the forthcoming “FBI”) as well as films and theatre, and has now turned begun producing.
Katie Fulford, who heads up the dedicated TV/film team at HarperCollins, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have agreed this deal with Rebecca Gushin to adapt Penelope Fitzgerald’s remarkable novel for a brand new audience. Rebecca’s creative vision and personal passion for the project was immediately evident, and we are certain she will be a fantastic guardian for this fascinating story as she works to bring that vision from page to screen.”
Gushin said: “I've loved Penelope Fitzgerald's Human Voices since college when I magically discovered it tucked into a corner of my local bookstore. On a whim, I bought it and immediately fell under the spell of this story, one from which I've never emerged. I've dreamed of seeing these characters come to life on a screen for twenty years, while secretly nurturing the hope that I could somehow be the one to make that dream a reality. I am honoured to have been entrusted by Ms Fitzgerald's estate with this beautiful story and I look forward to working with them on a television series that will introduce viewers to these wonderful, flawed, hilarious characters and the fascinating world they inhabit.”
Terence Dooley, representative of Penelope Fitzgerald’s estate, said: “In Human Voices, Penelope Fitzgerald uses her own experience of life in the BBC in the darkest period of the war to depict, with humour and warmth, the eccentric characters whose duty it was to inform the nation truthfully of the war’s progress, and to keep up their morale. It would make a vivid, atmospheric – and at times very funny – film or TV series, and we are delighted that Rebecca will be bringing her passion and vision to this adaptation.”
Fitzgerald won the Booker Prize in 1979 for Offshore, and was shortlisted three other times, for The Beginning of Spring, The Gate of Angels and The Bookshop, which was adapted into a film starring Bill Nighy and Emily Mortimer last year.