After directing and starring in Coriolanus based on Shakespeare's Roman drama, Ralph Fiennes directs and stars as Charles Dickens in THE INVISIBLE WOMAN, film adaptation of Claire Tomaline's book of the same name. The movie is due to release in 2013 and tells about the affair between the famous writer and the beautiful young actress Ellen Ternan (Felicity Jones, Hysteria, Northanger Abbey).
Abi Morgan (Shame) has adapted Claire Tomalin‘s novel, which tells of the 13-year affair between Dickens and Nelly Ternan, a woman who was 27 years the author’s junior. Tom Hollander (as the author Wilkie Collins) and Kristin Scott Thomas (as Nelly's mother) are also in the cast.
Modern readers are less shocked by Dickens's having had a mistress than by his determination to keep everything secret, a determination which led even to cruelties towards his wife and children.According to Dickens his wife lacked his energy and intellect while Nelly Ternan, in contrast, was clever and charming, interested in literature, the theatre, politics. Dickens referred to Ternan as his "magic circle of one". The situation came to a head in 1858 when Catherine, Dickens's wife, found and opened a packet delivered by a London jeweller which contained a gold bracelet meant for Nelly with a note written by her husband. The Dickenses separated that May 1858 after 22 years of marriage.
Dickens named several of his female characters after Ternan, including Estella in Great Expectations, Bella in Our Mutual Friend and Helena Landless in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and other may have been inspired by her, particularly Lucie Manette in A Tale of Two Cities. Dickens left a legacy of £1,000 to Ellen Ternan in his will on his death in 1870, and sufficient income from a trust fund to ensure that she would never have to work again.
Nelly, happily married and mother of children is tormented by her past. Her memories, brought about by her sense of guilt and regret, lead the story back in time in order to explore her affair with Charles Dickens, which was exciting and fragile at the same time. Dickens falls in love with her. The young woman comes from a family of actors and the theatre is crucial for both of them and for their relationship. Nelly becomes his muse, but the price they pay is a complex, very secret relationship for which the Nelly will be condemned to become an invisible woman.