It’s a good time to bring out your copies of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and put them on display. Entertainment news sites are abuzz with the story that production has begun on a seven-part BBC series based on the 2004 debut bestseller by Susanna Clarke.
The novel made news when it was acquired by Bloomsbury, U.K. for £1 million, with the Guardian trumpeting, “Watch and learn, Harry Potter, and stand by for some serious magic. The company that championed the schoolboy wizard is about to launch one of the biggest marketing campaigns in publishing history for its new international blockbuster – but this time it’s magic for grown-ups.”
It fulfilled expectations. The 800-page epic set during the Napoleonic wars reached #3 on the New York Times best-seller list. Longlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize, it won the 2005 Hugo Award for Best Novel, was Time Magazine’s #1 Book of the Year and was reviewed widely.
At the time of acquisition, Bloomsbury editor-in-chief Alexandra Pringle described it as, “funny in a sly Jane Austen way and very literary with elements of fantasy – Jane Austen meets Philip Pullman is a fair way to describe it.” She also noted, “There is definitely a film in it and we’ve already had a lot of interest in the film rights.”
Rights were acquired, but have since lapsed, clearing the way for what may become the next BBC Obsession, set to air some time in 2014.