Classic Women Authors’ Filmography

Cimarron - film version - Edna Ferber

It’s truly remarkable how many adaptations have been made from the works of classic women authors. This is just a sampling.

First, movies about or inspired by the lives of real-life women authors:

The Hours (2003) – A trio of interwoven stories based on the book of the same name by Michael Cunningham, one of which is about Virginia Woolf, portrayed by Nicole Kidman.

Miss Potter (2007) – A charming film biography of Beatrix Potter, starring Renee Zellweger as the author who created Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddleduck, and many other memorable characters.

Becoming Jane (2007) – A fanciful film about Jane Austen, with the too-showy-for-the-role Anne Hathaway as the author.

Out of Africa (2000) – A fine film about Isak Dinesen’s African sojourn, with Meryl Streep as the author and Robert Redford as her love interest.

Pentimento (Julia)–  (1971) – Based on an apocryphal story by Lillian Hellman, in which she herself is one of the two main characters.

Devotion (1946) – The lives and writing of Emily and Charlotte Brontë and their family.

Daphne (2008) – A drama about the life and controversial affairs of Daphne Du Maurier.

Cross Creek (2009) – The life of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings on her Florida orange grove, charmingly portrayed by Mary Steenburgen.

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Cycle (1994) – Set in the 1920’s this film follows Dorothy Parker and the members of the Algonquin Round Table; the young writers of the New York literary world at the time.

Sylvia (2004) – Gwyneth Paltrow plays Plath with Daniel Craig as her husband, Ted Hughes. The film follows Plath through her life, showing the process of her publications and the increasing depression that plagued her her entire life.

The Passion of Ayn Rand (2007) – Based on the book written by Barbara Branden, a close friend of Rand, the film tells of two fans that get to meet Rand and how all of their lives intertwine.

Portrait of a Marriage (1992) – This film explores the unconventional marriage of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson.

Beyond Prairie (2010) – The true life story of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Saving Mr. Banks (2013) – How Walt Disney lobbied Pamela (P.L.) Travers for film rights to Mary Poppins, and the challenges that ensued with the prickly author. Starring Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson.


A selected list of films based upon the books of classic women authors:

Louisa May Alcott

Jane Austen

Enid Bagnold

Anne Brontë

Charlotte Brontë

Emily Brontë

Pearl Buck

Frances Hodgson Burnett

Willa Cather

Agatha Christie


Daphne Du Maurier

George Eliot

Edna Ferber

Miles Franklin

Elizabeth Gaskell

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Rumor Godden

Lorraine Hansberry

Lillian Hellman

Laura Z. Hobson

Fannie Hurst

Zora Neale Hurston

Shirley Jackson

Madeleine L’Engle

Mary McCarthy

Carson McCullers

Margaret Mitchell

L.M. Montgomery

Anaïs Nin

Flannery O’Connor

Tillie Olson

Sylvia Plath

Katherine Anne Porter

Beatrix Potter

Ayn Rand

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Jean Rhys

Vita Sackville-West

Anna Sewell

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Betty Smith

Dodie Smith

Harriet Beecher Stowe

P.L. Travers

Edith Wharton

Kate Douglas Wiggin

Laura Ingalls Wilder

Virginia Woolf

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