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While it is true that many authors spend their lives squirrelling away behind a desk, some have lived lives larger than the books they wrote. Whether you are obsessed with the dreamy aesthetics of bookish characters in tweeds or want to get in the heads of your favourite writers, we have the definitive list of the best films made about authors that will tick all your boxes.
- Bright Star (2009)
One of the greatest poets who ever lived, John Keats life was cut short far too early at the age of 25 from tuberculosis. Jane Campion deftly paints the quiet and brief love story between the poet, played by Ben Whishaw and Fanny Brawne, played by Abbie Cornish.
Watch this if you like…period pieces, star-crossed lovers, sumptuous costumes
2. Edge of Love (2008)
This drama recounts the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’ tempestuous relationship with his wife, Caitlin Macnamara, and their close relationship with Thomas’ childhood friend, Vera Phillips. While many Hollywood liberties have been taken to make everyone exceedingly more attractive and appealing than real life, this film is an enjoyable and atmospheric ride.
Watch this if you like…movies about war-time London, autumnal fashion inspiration
3. Shirley (2020)
The latest film out on the list, this film is a weird and discomfiting biopic of the American horror writer, Shirley Jackson. A fictional story based in the life of a real writer, the film follows Jackson and her husband, Stanley Hyman who enter into a complicated relationship with a young couple who have recently relocated for a position at Bennington College. Struggling to write with her alcoholism and ill health, shut-in Jackson becomes dangerously obsessed with their new friends.
Watch if you like….psychological horror, Elizabeth Moss, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
4. Capote (2005)
Like most great biopics, this one about the American writer Truman Capote narrows in a pivotal moment in his life. Capote was commissioned by magazine to cover the brutal slayings of a family in Kansas. To Kill a Mockingbird’s Harper Lee came along as his assistant and friend. Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of Capote is so close its eerie. The film depicts well the emotional wrangling involved in getting dangerous close to evil.
Watch if you like…courtroom dramas, true crime, ambiguous feelings
5. Kill Your Darlings (2013)
Before there were the towering careers of poets and writers such as Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg who would be known as the Beat Generation, there were a group of young men, college students struggling to establish themselves. This drama follows Ginsberg’s relationship with college friend, Lucien Carr, who kills his stalker, David Kammerer, and the aftermath of this even.
Watch this if you like…horn-rimmed glasses, Beat poetry, wide-eyed optimism
6. Colette (2018)
Films about female writers before the turn of the century are few and far between. This film is the most classic biopic on the list. It charts the early years of French novelist, Colette, from her ordinary beginnings to dazzling literary fame in 1920s Paris. Played with verve by Kiera Knightly, this film is beautifully outfitted romp about a thoroughly modern woman who stopped at nothing to mark her mark in literature.
Watch if you like…enviable outfits, shocking scandals, straw boater hats
7. Shakespeare in Love (1998)
While calling this a biopic is more than a stretch, it deserves a place on this list for pure enjoyment alone. While not a great deal is known about the playwright’s personal life, this film dreams up a magical love-story Shakespeare himself would have approved of.
Watch if you love…romantic comedies, confused identities, Elizabethan garb