Thanks to Claire Cifelli of Sony Pictures Classics for sharing the material on this film with readers of the the Victorian Web. Dickens's novels have a long history of adaptations to stage and screen, but this film, like Dan Simmons's Neo-Victorian novel Drood (2009), it dramatizes the life of the author.—  George P. Landow.

Synopsis of the film

Nelly (Felicity Jones), a happily-married mother and schoolteacher, is haunted by her past. Her memories, provoked by remorse and guilt, take us back in time to follow the story of her relationship with Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes) with whom she discovered an exciting but fragile complicity.

Dickens – famous, controlling and emotionally isolated within his success – falls for Nelly, who comes from a family of actors. The theatre is a vital arena for Dickens – a brilliant amateur actor – a man more emotionally coherent on the page or on stage, than in life. As Nelly becomes the focus of Dickens' passion and his muse, for both of them secrecy is the price, and for Nelly a life of "invisibility".



Charles Dickens (Ralph Fiennes)

Nell Ternan (Felicity Jones),

Charles and Nell

Dickens, Nell, and others

Left: Mrs. Dickens. Right: Mrs. Ternan and her three daughters.

Related Material


Victorian Web Overview Charles Dickens Works

Last modified 15 December 2013