Deborah Moggach: From Page to Screen & Beyond

On this day in 1999, Tulip Fever was published. A gorgeous and enthralling historical novel set in 1600s Germany, Tulip Fever was later adapted into a film that was just as impactful. Deborah Moggach is the genius between both the novel and the screenplay of Tulip Fever

Deborah Moggach is a British author and screenwriter, who has published twenty novels, including The Ex-Wives (1993), Tulip Fever (1999), The Stand-In (1991), and These Foolish Things (2004). Deborah’s writing tends to explore themes of family, children, marriage, divorce; generally, the complexities and difficulties of relationships. Deborah’s writing can be quite funny at times, but also does not shy away from the dark sides of life. 

Tulip Fever is one of two historical novels that Deborah has written, taking place in seventeenth-century Amsterdam. In the novel, the city is being overtaken by “Tulip Fever,” or “tulipomania,” in which people are being wildly seduced by tulips, causing them to spend all of their money on them. 

The protagonist, Sophia, is married off to an older wealthy merchant, Cornelius, but she struggles to give him an heir. Their relationship grows more complicated when Cornelius hires a handsome young artist to paint their portrait. In 2017, Deborah wrote the screenplay for a film adaptation of the film starring Alicia Vikander, which FF2 Contributor Giorgi Plys-Garzatto described as a “beautiful period piece.” 

Beloved stars in 2011’s The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel include Dame Judy Dench and Dame Maggie Smith plus Bill Nighy and Dev Patel.

The other novel that Deborah adapted into a screenplay is These Foolish Things (2004), which became the hugely successful film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011). With beloved stars like Judy Dench, Maggie Smith, Dev Patel, and Bill Nighy, the film centers around several elderly English people who venture to Jaipur, India, to stay at a retirement home called the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. 

The film explores the lives of the older generation in ways that go beyond the typical media stereotypes for them. Discussing Deborah Moggach’s writing for the screenplay, Giorgi Plys-Garzotto notes, “One trend I notice in Moggach’s writing is her deft handling of ensemble casts–she’s able to take a cacophony of voices and make them sing in harmony.” 

Deborah has also adapted several of her novels into television series, including Seesaw, Close Relations, and Stolen. Moving beyond her own novels, Deborah has also written adaptations for other novels, including the film Pride and Prejudice (2005), adapted from Jane Austen’s novel, for which she was nominated for a BAFTA award, the TV series Goggle Eyes, adapted from Anne Fine’s novel, for which she won a Writer’s Guild Award.

Deborah is a unique artist because, not only has she written a huge number of intricate and beautiful novels, she has also given several of them a new life for the screen. Plus, she has shared her gift for adaptation with other women writers. One thing’s for sure: Deborah’s work should be seen and heard… and read. 

© Julia Lasker (4/11/23) FF2 Media


Read Giorgi Plys-Garzotto’s tribute to Deborah Moggach here.

Read Giorgi Plys-Garzotto’s review of Tulip Fever here.


Featured photo: Pexels

Tags: author, BAFTA, Close Relations, Deborah Moggach, female author, Goggle Eyes, Pride and Prejudice, screenwriter, Seesaw, Stolen, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Ex-Wives, The Stand-In, These Foolish Things, Tulip Fever, women screenwriters, Writer's Guild Award

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As an associate for FF2 Media, Julia writes reviews and features for films made by women. She is currently a senior at Barnard College studying Psychology. Outside of FF2, her interests include acting, creative writing, thrift shopping, crafting, and making and eating baked goods. Julia has been at FF2 for almost 4 years, and loves the company and its mission dearly.
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