Beth Underdown’s historical debut, The Witchfinder's Sister, has been optioned for TV by Monumental Television.
Underdown’s novel, which recently won the HWA Debut Crown Award and was published in paperback by Viking on Thursday (14th December), is based on the true story of the Manningtree witch-hunts in Essex. It focuses on the life of Alice Hopkins and her brother, Matthew - often referred to as the Witchfinder General - who hunted and then helped to convict over a hundred women for witchcraft in the 1640s. The novel has also been selected for the next W H Smith Book Club with Richard and Judy.
Monumental Television, the London production company set up by Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning producers Alison Owen and Debra Hayward, acquired TV rights from Jonathan Sissons at Peters Fraser and Dunlop on behalf of Nelle Andrew.
Underdown said she was "completely thrilled" to see the option for The Witchfinder’s Sister go to Monumental. "They have worked on some amazing shows," she said. "The story of these witch hunts tackles some big questions about evil and mass panic which feel very relevant right now, and, having watched readers react so brilliantly to the novel, I’m so excited to see an adaptation that grapples with this unsettling piece of history."
Owen, co-founder of Monumental Television, said: "Beth has written an extraordinary and dark novel. The story of these persecuted women resonates in today’s world, where accusations are used as distractions, and the dissemination of misinformation and fake news is used to whip up a populist frenzy. The novel is wonderfully tense and compelling and we couldn’t be more excited to bring this fascinating story to the screen."