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‘King’s Speech’ Producers Developing Biopic About “Florence of Arabia” Lady Hester Stanhope

'King's Speech' Producers Developing Biopic About "Florence of Arabia" Lady Hester Stanhope

On the heels of Nicole Kidman’s “Queen of the Desert,” Werner Herzog’s film about archaeologist, diplomat, and writer Gertrude Bell, comes the announcement of another biopic about a 19th-century British woman exploring the Middle East. 

“The King’s Speech” producers have begun shaping Lady Hester Stanhope’s two years traveling in Europe and the Middle East and  eventual settlement in current-day Lebanon into a film. Based on Kirsten Ellis’ biography “The Lady Who Went Too Far,” the project is currently in pre-production. The lead role has been offered to a “well-known” actress, but her name has been withheld. 

“I’m delighted to see there’s been an upswing in the appetite for high-end quality drama that has female characters at the fore,” remarked producer Gareth Unwin.

Stanhope’s exploits were celebrated by writers and artists like George Eliot, James Joyce, Pablo Picasso and W.H. Auden. After a love affair gone awry, the aristocrat set sail in search of new experiences and freedoms from the limits of upper-class existence. 

“The choices she made and her sensibility didn’t fit the mold for a heroine for the Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian eras; she was a strong, independent woman who refused to accept the constraints placed on her by society. It’s only now that her story feels so timely,” said screenwriter David Seidler, who will adapt Ellis’ book.

In her biography, Ellis recast Stanhope — often dismissed as a mere eccentric — as a woman of courage and determination who took on the mantle of powerbroker in the Middle East. 

[via The Independent]

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