cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

Tale from the cuttings cull # 2 John Fowles



Is there a term for spending more time reading old newspaper cuttings than in turfing them out? Most are being thrown out but there is always a small, select pile which seem too important to throw away.

This time there was a long review of the 2004 biography of John Fowles by Eileen Warburton, John Fowles: A Life in Two Worlds.  There was mention of his first wife Elizabeth and the part she played in his novels, and other women in his life.

To mind came an image of a film of Fowles’ life written by Harold Pinter revolving around John and Elizabeth. Time someone had a go.  “John and Elizabeth” has a certain ring to it.

There in not a great mass of stuff on Elizabeth on the web but this is some of what I have found:

Jeremy Treglown’s Spectator review of Warburton

The man behind the Magus John Mullan

Extract from Warburton

A Mystery to Himself by Julian Evans

Evans also does an essay, The Old English Agony, on the first volume of Fowles’ journal.

In the LRB, Ian Sansom reviews Warburton and vol 1 of the journal.

The Diary of a Misanthrope Adam Mars-Jones on Vol 2

Death of an author, not Catherine Gander (‘John Fowles’ journals are as much works of fiction as his novels’)

Fair or Fowles Adam Lee-Potter  Interview 2003

Conversations with John Fowles (GoogleBook) has Fowles talking about Elizabeth.

Times 29 June 2008,  John Fowles: the French Lieutenant author’s secret woman

Letters from John Fowles reveal he had an affair with an Oxford student 43 years his junior who modeled herself on the heroine in his tale of scandalous love

The Daily Mail souped up the letters story by finding out more about the girl, Elena van Lieshout.
The ‘real’ French Lieutenant’s Woman: John Fowles’s doomed love affair with a 21-year-old Oxford student. (4 July 32008)

Never write off the pulling power of a man of letters

Of Elena and others who latched on to famous writers.

Fascimiles of two letters, one by hand the other typed from the Sotheby’s auction, from Fowles to Elena.

The catalogue note included quotes from some of the other letters in the collection.

July 16th, 2007 blog post by photographer and writer Tom M. Wilson on a visit to Lyme Regis. He has written a book called The Recurrent Green Universe of John Fowles. (Amazon)

This photograph is at a guess Elizabeth, John and Elizabeth’s daughter Ann.

Four photos from Warburton’s biography

Come on Harold, in the vein of the Proust Play….yellow screen…..tinkling bells…. that sort of thing….only this time a sudden image of a young boy holding a bird under water in a stream with his foot on its neck till it drowns.



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October 18, 2008 Posted by | John Fowles, Literature | , | 1 Comment

John Fowles, book and film.



Litlove (Tales from the Reading Room) has written an exemplary post on The French Lieutenant’s Woman. However, if you are curious, if you haven’t read the book, it has the spoiler built in, so beware.

One thing she hasn’t tackled is book vs. film, which I have always been obsessed by, partly because I believed it told me so much about film writing.

Karl Reisz directed. Harold Pinter wrote the screenplay {1}. Having later heard in the BBC radio version what he did with Proust in The Pinter Proust Play, {2} which itself is an object lesson in screenwriting, though never used, I can now turn back again, being reminded of the FLW , to the way he ended up doing Fowles:

wiki: The French Lieutenant’s Woman

Screenplay of The French Lieutenant’s Woman

(Not sure if these are Pinter’s ‘stage directions’ – just a few- or if they have been created afresh in lieu of the real thing, but the dialogue seems true to the film)

There is a long essay by Mary Lynn Dodson, which was originally published in Literature Film Quarterly, in 1998, which takes the book vs. film discussion in its full context, including Fowles’s other books, his own attempt to adapt the book, and his attitude to filming The French Lieutenant’s Woman.

The French Lieutenant’s Woman: Pinter and Reisz’s adaptation of John Fowles’s adaptation


{ SEE Moleskine Modality post Petit pan de mur jaune for a soupçon of Pinter’s Proust.}



November 15, 2007 Posted by | fiction, film directors, film [its techniques], John Fowles, Karel Reisz, Literature, Moleskine Modality, movies, Novel, Novelist, Proust, screenplay, screenwriting, Writing | 1 Comment