The Woman in Black

Example.jpg]]The Woman in Black is a 1983 thriller fiction novel by Susan Hill about a menacing spectre that haunts a small English town.

It was adapted into a stage play by Stephen Mallatratt. A TV movie based on the story, also called The Woman in Black, was produced in 1989, with a screenplay by the distinguished film and television writer Nigel Kneale (best known as the creator of the Quatermass science-fiction serials). A remake of the film is set to be released by Hammer in 2012. The stage play was first performed at the Stephen Joseph Theatre-In-The-Round in Scarborough, UK in 1987. It was very well received and moved to the Fortune Theatre in London's West End in 1989 where it still runs today, as well as currently being on a UK National Tour. It is the second longest running play in the history of the West End, after The Mousetrap.

Plot introductionEdit

The story centres on a young solicitor, Arthur Kipps, who is summoned to Crythin Gifford, a small market town on the east coast of the United Kingdom to attend to the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, an elderly and reclusive widow who lived alone in the desolate and secluded Eel Marsh House.

Plot summaryEdit

The house is situated on Nine Lives Causeway, and at high tide is completely cut off from the mainland with only the surrounding marshes and sea frets for company. Kipps soon realises there is more to Alice Drablow than he originally thought. At the funeral he spots a woman dressed in black and with a pale, wasted face, who is watched in silence by a group of children. Over the course of several days, while sorting through Mrs Drablow's papers at Eel Marsh House, he endures an increasingly terrifying sequence of unexplained noises, chilling events and hauntings by the Woman in Black. The hauntings included the sound of a horse and cart in difficulty which were closely followed by the screams of a young child and his maid.

Most of the people in Crythin Gifford are extremely reluctant to reveal information about Mrs Drablow and the mysterious Woman in Black, and most attempts to find out the truth cause pained and fearful reactions. From various sources, Kipps learns that Mrs Drablow's sister, Jennet Humfrye, gave birth to a child, but, because she was not married when she became pregnant was forced to give the child to her sister. Mrs Drablow and her husband adopted the boy, called Nathaniel, insisting he should never know that Jennet was his mother. The child's screams heard by Kipps were those of Nathaniel.

Jennet went away for a year but after realising she could not be parted for so long from her son, made an agreement to stay at Eel Marsh House with her son, so long as she never revealed her true identity to him. One day, a pony and trap carrying the boy across the causeway became lost and sank into the marshes, killing all aboard, while Jennet looked on from the window of Eel Marsh House as she waited for them. This was particularly distressing for Jennet Humfrye as she had planned to run away with her son, as they were becoming very close.

Jennet died later, but returned to haunt Eel Marsh House and Crythin Gifford with a vengeful malevolence, as the Woman in Black. According to local tales, seeing the Woman in Black meant that the death of a child would follow.

After the affair is settled, Arthur Kipps returns to London, marries Stella, and has a child of his own. At a fair, while his wife and child are enjoying a carriage ride, Kipps suddenly sees the Woman in Black once more. She steps out in front of the horse pulling the carriage and startles it so greatly that it gallops away and collides with a tree, killing the child and fatally injuring Stella, who dies of her injuries ten months later. The Woman in Black has had her vengeance.

Theatrical adaptationsEdit

Stage playEdit

Main article: The Woman in Black (play)

The book was adapted into a play by Stephen Mallatratt. In this version, an older Kipps enlists a young actor to help him tell the story of the 'Woman in Black', hoping that this will help him to move on from those events and exorcise the ghost. The actor plays the part of the young Arthur Kipps while Kipps plays the roles of the people he met. The play adds the twist that the actress playing the Woman in Black in the recreation of the events was the real Woman in Black.

The play is staged at the Fortune Theatre in Covent Garden and has been running since its opening in 1989. The play has had an enormous success on the London stage, as well as many other countries around the world.

Radio, television, and film adaptationsEdit

In 1989, the story was adapted for television for Britain's ITV network. The production starred Adrian Rawlins as Arthur Kidd (not Kipps), Bernard Hepton as Sam Toovey (not Sam Daily) and Pauline Moran as The Woman in Black.

In December 1993, BBC Radio 5 broadcast an adaptation of the novel. It starred Robert Glenister (as young Arthur Kipps) and John Woodvine (as an old Arthur Kipps, who also narrates parts of the story). It was directed by Chris Wallis.

In October 2004, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a 56 minute version[1] in its Saturday Play slot, adapted by Mike Walker. It starred James D'Arcy as Arthur Kipps, was directed by John Taylor and was a Fiction Factory production.

In September 2010, Hammer Films and Alliance Films began production of a film adaption of the book (originally planned to be filmed in 3D, but ultimately filmed in standard 2D).[2][3] It features Daniel Radcliffe in the role of Arthur Kipps, and is being directed by James Watkins of Eden Lake fame.[4]


External linksEdit

Template:Novels by Susan Hill

it:La donna in nero (Hill)

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