Monumental Pictures, the film and TV production shingle hung by Alison Owen and Debra Hayward in September, has acquired screen rights to How To Build A Girl, the bestseller written by Caitlin Moran. The fourth book by broadcaster, TV critic and Times columnist Moran was published in the UK by Ebury Press in July and by Harper Collins in the U.S. in September. It has sold over half a million copies and charts the journey of teenager Johanna Morrigan, who reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde: a fast-talking, lady sex-adventurer who moves to London and gets a job as music critic in the hope of saving her poverty stricken family. The producers call the Morrigan character “one of the great female literary icons” on a par with Elizabeth Bennett and Bridget Jones.

The UK’s Film4, now led by newly-installed chief David Kosse, is backing development of the project which the author will adapt for the screen alongside Kill Your Friends writer John Niven.

Owen’s producing credits include Saving Mr Banks, The Other Boleyn Girl, Jane Eyre and Temple Grandin. She is currently in post-production on Tulip Fever for The Weinstein Company and Suffragette for Pathé. She is also developing the 13-part ABC series Little Women written by Big Hero 6‘s Jordan Roberts and starring Natasha McElhone.

Former Working Title exec Hayward produced Oscar-winner Les Misérables and exec produced myriad WT films including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Senna, Frost Nixon, Nanny McPhee, Atonement, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Pride And Prejudice. With How To Build A Girl, the pair are marking their first Monumental acquisition.