Currently making the respectable rounds of the festival circuit, a new theatrical trailer for Ralph Fiennes' The Invisible Woman has materialised online over the weekend. Nothing to do with HG Wells, the film instead focuses on Charles Dickens, and specifically on his relationship with his secret mistress Ellen "Nelly" Turnen. Felicity Jones plays Nelly, with Fiennes starring as Dickens, as well as directing. It looks a bit like this...
"His greatest story was the one he could never tell," runs the tagline. That saga, as you'll have gathered, was the affair that lasted thirteen years until the end of Dickens' life. Ternan was a theatre actress (not a very good one according to the film; and a year younger than Dickens' eldest daughter) and therefore of negligible social position. Exposure as Dickens' mistress would have brought the actress disgrace and ruin, and the author went to inordinate lengths to keep their extended affair out of the public eye. Nelly did achieve some status after Dickens' death, however, despite their relationship having by then come to light.
Joining Fiennes and Jones are Kristin Scott Thomas as Nelly's mother Frances; Joanna Scanlan as Dickens' long-suffering wife Catherine; and Tom Hollander as Wilkie Collins, most famous as the author of The Moonstone and The Woman In White, but also a prolific playwright (he co-authored The Frozen Deep with Dickens, and it was on that fateful production that Dickens and Nelly first met).
The Invisible Woman's screenplay is by Shame's writer Abi Morgan, and it's based on Claire Tomalin's book, first published in 1991. The release date in the UK is February 7 next year.