PBS’s Masterpiece producing public broadcasting channel WGBH announced this morning it had “optioned” the novel The Signature Of All Things, written by Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert and “inspired by the true-life adventures of real 19th century female botanical explorers.” UK film and TV production company Origin Pictures, helmed by David Thompson, is developing the project; Origin’s recent titles include Death Comes To Pemberley starring Matthew Rhys, and Woman In Gold starring Helen Mirren.
In its announcement, the PBS station describes central character Alma Whittaker as a “brilliant, determined, and thoroughly scientific woman, struggling to express her intellectual curiosity in a society where women’s lives are confined to the domestic sphere,” who is “equal parts Elizabeth Bennet and Charles Darwin.”
“Readers all over the world fell in love with this unique character — the rare heroine of literature whose fortunes are neither rescued nor ruined by a man,” WGBH added.
Gilbert is maybe best known for her memoir Eat Pray Love, which chronicled her divorce and search for spiritual enlightenment, portrayed by Julia Roberts in Columbia Pictures’ movie adaptation. Gilbert is the author of six books. The Signature Of All Things is her second novel.
Emily Ballou, Australian-American screenwriter, novelist and poet, will adapt the novel for television. Her writing credits include The Slap, Scott & Bailey and Case Histories.
“Whenever I dreamed of seeing my novel transformed for the screen, I dreamt of working with exactly this team of people, and I’m delighted that my dream has come true,” Gilbert said in today’s announcement.