The Merchant-Ivory era may be over, but some of the novels they adapted are evergreen. “Howards End” is clearly among that august company, as E.M. Forster’s novel is once again being adapted — this time for the small screen. Starz has just released a first-look image from the upcoming series, which Kenneth Lonergan is writing. There it is, right at the top of this article!
Here’s the synopsis for all you philistines who, like me, have yet to read the book: “Margaret Schlegel is an intelligent, idealistic young woman who is courted by the older Henry Wilcox, a self-made conservative businessman, after his wife Ruth Wilcox (Julia Ormond) dies unexpectedly and he becomes owner of Howards End. Meanwhile Margaret’s passionate and capricious younger sister Helen Schlegel (Philippa Coulthard) takes up the cause of Leonard Bast (Joseph Quinn) a young bank clerk who falls on hard times at work and at home with his partner Jacky (Rosalind Eleazar).
“In the absence of their late parents, the sisters’ loving but interfering Aunt Juley (Tracey Ullman) tries to keep the young ladies and their brother Tibby (Alex Lawther) on the straight and narrow.”
Forster’s novel was most famously adapted by James Ivory in 1992; Anthony Hopkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Helena Bonham Carter and Emma Thompson led the cast. Hayley Atwell, Matthew Macfadyen and Tracey Ullman star in this new version, which consists of four hour-long episodes that will air on BBC One in the UK and Starz on this side of the pond.