From Book to Big Screen

16th June 2016

(Atticus Finch defending Tom Robinson in the 1963 film of To Kill A Mockingbird)

Tim Burton's vividly imagined version of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass is currently showing in cinemas around the globe and like so many classic movies the story originates from a great book. We have been inspired to look through our shelves and pick out a few of the books which have sparked classic movies. 

Through the Looking Glass

In cinemas now is Tim Burton's version of Through the Looking Glass, starring Jonny Depp as the aptly cast mad hatter. Lewis Carroll's book was first published in 1872 and introduced several of Carroll's most enduring characters including Tweedledum and Tweedledee, the Walrus and the Carpenter, The Lion and the Unicorn, and Carroll's most famous nonsense rhyme, Jabberwocky.

Partly due to its popularity the first edition of the book is notably difficult to find in good unrepaired condition, the extremely bright copy seen above is priced at £6,000, copies which have been rebound, rebacked or are in tatty condiiton would be significantly less expensive, but also less collectable in equal measure.

The Jungle Book

A Disney cartoon version of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book was released in 1967, featuring songs such as “Bare Necessities”  and “Trust in Me”. These songs have been nursery favourites for almost half a century and get a brief airing in the recent film version of the tale, which is a 3D extravaganza, where the jungle practically bursts out of the screen.The story was originally published in two volumes entitled The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book, in 1894 and 1895. Illustrations to the books were provided by various artists including Kipling ’s father. Pictured here are first editions in excellent condition, priced at £3,750.

National Velvet

National Velvet is the story of a horse-mad 12 year old girl training her horse for the Grand National. The book by Enid Bagnold was first published in 1935 and the movie released in 1944. The film was a huge hit, and a young Elizabeth Taylor made her film debut as the lead character Velvet Brown.

Black Narcissus

Rumour Godden's best known novel is set in an Indian convent within sight of the Himalayas, where the nuns are gradually influenced by the exotic atmosphere of their surroundings. Adapted into the classic 1947 film of the same name starring Deborah Kerr and Flora Robson the book has never been out of print since publication.  

The small print run of the 1939 first edition means it is a book very rarely encountered in original dust wrapper.  

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 

Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory initially hit the big screen in 1971 under the title Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder as the eponymous chocolatier. More recently Tim Burton's film reverted to the original title with Johnny Depp portraying a wacky Willy Wonka. 

The book was first published in America in 1964 with illustrations by Joseph Schindelman and didn't come out in the UK until three years later. Finding a first edition, first issue book with correct dustjacket in fine condition is no mean feat.

To Kill A Mockingbird

Harper Lee's first published book won the Pulitzer Prize and has gone on to be regarded as one of the greatest American novels. The 1963 classic movie starred Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and both book and film are frequently listed in Top Ten favourites list. 

The book was first published in both the US and the UK in 1960, seen here is the pictorial dustwrapper of the UK edition designed by Fratini.

Brighton Rock

The screen play for classic 1947 film "Brighton Rock" was written by Graham Greene and Terence Rattigan. Starring Richard Attenborough as anti-hero Pinkie, the murder thriller explores the underlying themes of Catholicism, morality and sin. In 2010 a remake shot in Eastbourne saw Sam Riley in the lead role. 

The book of the same title was first published in 1938, with the American edition (pictured here) preceding the British edition by about a month.

Dr. No

Ian Fleming's Dr No was the sixth of his James Bond novels, but the first to hit the silver screen. The book was first published by Jonathan Cape in 1958 with an iconic dustwrapper designed by Pat Marriott. In 1962 producers Harry Salzman and Albert (Cubby) Broccoli brought the charismatic spy, 007, to the wider world, portrayed by actor, Sean Connery.


The Railway Children

Brought to life by Jennie Agutter as Bobbie and Dinah Sheridan as the Mother in the 1970 film of the same title, the characters from E.Nesbit's novel bring back a rush of fond memories for so many of us.

The novel was first published in 1906 with a beautiful decrative binding, matching dustwrapper and  attractive line drawings by C.E. Brock. 

Browse some more of the great books which have inspired classic films.

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