About the Project
The papers of the celebrated screenwriter and adaptor Andrew Davies were donated by the author to De Montfort University's Special Collections in 2015 and were subsequently digitised. The archive brings together over 50 years' worth of documents (screenplays, notes, letters, research materials) by one of Britain's most admired television dramatists.
In 1993 Andrew Davies was commissioned by Michael Wearing, then Head of BBC Drama, to adapt George Eliot's masterpiece Middlemarch (1872) as a six-part series in partnership with WGBH Boston. The £6.5m dramatization (the BBC television's first Middlemarch since 1968), was a considerable gamble. It cast a largely unknown generation of new actors -- including Juliet Aubrey, Rufus Sewell, Trevyn McDowell, Douglas Hodge, Jonathan Firth and Rachel Power -- supported by stalwarts Robert Hardy, Michael Hordern, Peter Jeffries, Elizabeth Spriggs, and Patrick Malahide. Its success was the condition for Davies adapting Pride and Prejudice (begun beforehand) which the BBC produced the following year. Davies' Middlemarch ushered in a new golden age of BBC period drama, noted for fine acting, location filming, high production values and the sympathetic adaptation of classic literature for contemporary audiences. Middlemarch offers a seminal example of an approach to classic novel adaptation for which Davies and British TV drama became famous. The rest, as they say, is history…
The Andrew Davies papers relating to the production of Middlemarch (notes, screenplay drafts and correspondence) provide a particularly rich seam of evidence about the process of screen adaptation. Middlemarch was also chosen as the case study for this genetic edition to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the first serialised publication of the novel in 1871-2.
This core archival material has been augmented by additional research resources from BBC Education, the British Film Institute, the British Library, the George Eliot Archive, Stamford Museum and Library, the private collections of John F.H. Smith F.S.A. BEM, and Lea Rickard. Original interviews with Davies and other members of the production team have provided useful insights into the adaptation process and production history.