Helen Edmundson

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Helen Edmundson
Born 1964
Liverpool, U.K.
Nationality British
Occupation Playwright, Screenwriter

Helen Edmundson (born 1964) is a British playwright and screenwriter. She has won awards and critical acclaim both for her original writing and for her adaptations of various literary classics for the stage and screen.

Early life[edit]

Edmundson was born in Liverpool, in 1964.[1] Most of her childhood was spent in northern England, on the Wirral and in Chester.[1] Edmundson studied drama at Manchester University,[1] after her studies, Edmundson acted with Red Stockings, a female agit-prop company, for whom she wrote the musical comedy Ladies in the Lift in 1988.[1] This was her first solo attempt at writing for the stage, after leaving Red Stockings, she acted throughout northwest England.[1]



Edmundson's first play Flying was produced at the National Theatre Studio in 1990; in 1992, her adaptation of Anna Karenina, produced by Shared Experience, won a Time Out Award and a TMA Award; the production toured nationally and internationally. In 1993, Edmundson's original play The Clearing, which won the John Whiting Award, was staged at the Bush Theatre;[2] in 1994, her adaptation of The Mill on the Floss was also produced by Shared Experience, again touring nationally and internationally; Edmundson won a Time Out Award for The Clearing and The Mill on the Floss.[3] In 1996, Shared Experience staged her adaptation of War and Peace at the National Theatre [4] in a production starring BAFTA Award-nominee Anne-Marie Duff; the play was nominated for a Writers' Guild Award for Best Play.


In 2002, Edmundson's play Mother Teresa is Dead was produced at the Royal Court Theatre; in 2004, her adaptation of Gone to Earth was produced by Shared Experience at the Lyric Hammersmith and on tour; it was nominated for a TMA Award.[5] Edmundson's adaptation of Coram Boy premiered at the National Theatre in November 2005, starring Olivier Award-winner Bertie Carvel and Tony Award-nominee Paul Ritter; Edmundson received a Time Out Award and was nominated for an Olivier Award.[6][7] The play came back for a revival at the same venue a year later, again starring Carvel, her adaptation of Orestes, toured in the UK and played at the Tricycle Theatre with Shared Experience in 2006. Coram Boy was revived at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway in 2007, starring Emmy Award-winner Uzo Aduba and Tony Award-nominee Jan Maxwell, receiving six Tony Award nominations. In 2008, Edmundson amended her adaptation of War and Peace, turning it into a two-part play; this production was staged on tour by Shared Experience. In the same year, her musical adaptation of Zorro was produced at the Garrick Theatre, starring Olivier Award-winner Lesli Margherita and Olivier Award-nominee Emma Williams; Edmundson was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best New Musical.[8] In 2009, Edmundson's adaptation of Life Is a Dream was produced at the Donmar Warehouse, starring BAFTA Award-winner Dominic West.


In 2010, Edmundson's musical adaptation of Swallows and Amazons was first produced at the Bristol Old Vic, directed by Tony Award-winner Tom Morris, the next year, the show transferred to the Vaudeville Theatre; the play was nominated for an Evening Standard Theatre Award.[9] Edmundson took part in the Bush Theatre's 2011 project Sixty-Six Books, for which artists wrote a piece based upon a book of the King James Bible; Edmundson wrote a piece entitled In the night, a promise, based on Zephaniah.[10] The same year, her adaptation of Coram Boy was revived at the Bristol Old Vic; in 2012, her play about Juana Inés de la Cruz, The Heresy of Love, was produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Swan Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.[11] The same year, Edmundson's adaptation of Swallows and Amazons was revived for a national tour. Also in 2012, Edmundson's play Mary Shelley was produced on a nationwide tour, including the Tricycle Theatre and the Liverpool Playhouse, by Shared Experience;[12] in 2014, Edmundson's adaptation of novel Thérèse Raquin was produced at the Theatre Royal, Bath, starring Olivier Award-winners Alison Steadman and Desmond Barrit. In 2015, The Heresy of Love was revived for a run at Shakespeare's Globe.[13] Edmundson's adaptation of Thérèse Raquin was produced by Roundabout Theatre Company at Studio 54 on Broadway from 2015 to 2016, starring Academy Award-nominee Keira Knightley and Tony Award-winner Judith Light; the play was nominated for Outstanding New Broadway Play at the 2016 Outer Critics Circle Awards.[14][15][16] Simultaneously, the RSC premiered her play Queen Anne in Stratford,[17] from June to September 2017, the RSC produced Queen Anne at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, starring Golden Globe-winner Romola Garai.[18][19]

Film and television[edit]

Edmundson has written two short films for television: One Day, broadcast on BBC Two in July 1991,[20] and Stella for Channel 4. In 2015, she wrote two episodes of ITV drama The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, Beyond the Pale and The Ties that Bind, starring BAFTA Award-winners Paddy Considine and Tim Pigott-Smith. In September of the same year, Edmundson's feature-length adaptation of An Inspector Calls, starring BAFTA Award-winners David Thewlis and Miranda Richardson, was broadcast on BBC One;[21] the adaptation won the 2016 Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Single Drama[22] and was nominated for two 2016 British Academy Television Craft Awards.[23] Recently, Edmundson wrote the upcoming film Mary Magdalene, directed by Emmy Award-nominee Garth Davis and starring Academy Award-nominees Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix, which was released in March 2018.[24][25] She is also adapting the novel The Awkward Age, to be broadcast by the BBC.[26]


Edmundson has adapted numerous literary classics for BBC Radio 4, including The Voyage Out in 2006,[27] The Mayor of Casterbridge in 2008[28] and Sense and Sensibility in 2013.[29]

Awards and honours[edit]

Edmundson has been a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature since 2015.[30]


  1. ^ a b c d e Edmundson, Helen (2002). The Clearing. London: Nick Hern Books. ISBN 1854592815. 
  2. ^ https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre--civil-strife-paul-taylor-reviews-helen-edmundsons-the-clearing-at-the-bush-1507694.html
  3. ^ a b c http://windhamcampbell.org/2015/winner/helen-edmundson
  4. ^ https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/war-of-the-words-1338952.html
  5. ^ a b http://www.londontheatre.co.uk/londontheatre/news/sep04/17sep04tma.htm
  6. ^ Michael Billington (16 November 2005). "Coram Boy". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  7. ^ a b http://www.olivierawards.com/winners/view/item98373/olivier-winners-2006/
  8. ^ http://www.olivierawards.com/winners/view/item106339/olivier-winners-2009/
  9. ^ a b https://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/theatre/evening-standard-theatre-awards-adrian-lester-and-his-writer-wife-lolita-chakrabarti-shortlisted-8306478.html
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-07-04. Retrieved 2012-06-19. 
  11. ^ The Heresy of Love, RSC.
  12. ^ http://www.sharedexperience.org.uk/maryshelley.html
  13. ^ http://www.shakespearesglobe.com/theatre/whats-on/globe-theatre/the-heresy-of-love
  14. ^ http://www.timeout.com/newyork/things-to-do/therese-raquin
  15. ^ McKinley, Jesse (21 October 2015). "Keira Knightley, Making Her Broadway Debut, Is Not Afraid of the Dark". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 October 2015. 
  16. ^ http://www.playbill.com/article/2016-outer-critics-circle-nominees-announced-com-347165
  17. ^ Matthew Hemley, "RSC unveils winter 2015 season and Antony Sher as Lear", The Stage.
  18. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-38831153
  19. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/feb/01/royal-shakespeare-company-to-stage-robert-harriss-cicero-trilogy
  20. ^ http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/schedules/bbctwo/england/1991-07-25
  21. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/sep/14/bbc-an-inspector-calls-this-is-england-90
  22. ^ http://www.broadcastingpressguild.org/bpgawards/bpg-awards-2016/
  23. ^ http://awards.bafta.org/award/2016/tvcraft
  24. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/jan/21/kings-speech-producer-see-saw-films-starts-mary-magdalene-bibical-biopic
  25. ^ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-5342513/Rooney-Maras-passionate-performance-Mary-Magdalene.html
  26. ^ http://deadline.com/2018/02/downton-abbey-producer-carnival-films-adapting-the-awkward-age-for-the-bbc-1202286361/
  27. ^ http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/schedules/radio4/fm/2006-03-20
  28. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00bdmtx
  29. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b038btbr
  30. ^ http://rsliterature.org/fellows/current-fellows/
  31. ^ http://www.olivierawards.com/winners/view/item106339/olivier-winners-2009/
  32. ^ "Prize Citation for Helen Edmundson". Windham–Campbell Literature Prize. February 24, 2015. Retrieved February 25, 2015. 
  33. ^ http://www.broadcastingpressguild.org/bpg-awards/bpg-awards-2016/

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