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John Fowles: ‘The Collector’ & ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ Author

John Fowles: The Collector and The French Lieutenant’s Woman author.

John Fowles: ‘The Collector’ & ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ author dead at 79

Author John Fowles, among whose novels are The Collector (1963), The Magus (1965), and The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1969), died on Saturday, Nov. 5, ’05, at his home in Lyme Regis, Dorset, on England’s southern coast.

Fowles (born on March 31, 1926, in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex) was 79. He had been in precarious health for a number of years.

Film adaptations

The three John Fowles novels mentioned above were all made into films:

  • The Collector (1965), directed by William Wyler, and starring Terence Stamp as a clean-cut psychopath with an ardent desire to add Samantha Eggar to his butterfly collection. Both Wyler and Eggar received Academy Award nominations, but the movie was bypassed in the Best Picture category.
  • The Magus (1968), a critically panned movie adaptation, with a screenplay by John Fowles himself, and directed by the recently deceased Guy Green. The Magus stars Michael Caine, Anthony Quinn, Candice Bergen, and Anna Karina.
  • The French Lieutenant’s Woman (1981), directed by Karel Reisz, and starring Best Actress Academy Award nominee* Meryl Streep as both a 19th-century Englishwoman with a bad reputation and the modern-day actress who plays her in the film-within-the-film. Jeremy Irons is Streep’s lover in both segments of the story. As for John Fowles’ novel, it revolves around the 19th-century title character – with various philosophical concepts thrown in, in addition to three possible endings. The modern-day story found in the film version of The French Lieutenant’s Woman was created by screenwriter Harold Pinter, who received an Oscar nomination† for his efforts.

According to the IMDb, there is also a 1986 Filipino film version of The Collector, titled Prisoner of the Dark / Bilanggo sa dilim. Directed by Mike De Leon, the movie features Joel Torre and Cherie Gil.

John Fowles’ other literary works

Among the other works by John Fowles are The Ebony Tower, Daniel Martin, The Tree, Mantissa, A Maggot, and The Enigma of Stonehenge. The Ebony Tower was made into a television movie in 1984, directed Robert Knights, adapted by John Mortimer, and starring Laurence Olivier, Roger Rees, and Greta Scacchi.

Meryl Streep & Harold Pinter

* For the record, Meryl Streep’s performance in The French Lieutenant’s Woman was embraced by U.S. critics, but Streep lost the Best Actress Academy Award to sentimental favorite Katharine Hepburn, who was given her fourth Oscar statuette for her performance as Henry Fonda’s elderly but strong-willed wife in Mark Rydell’s On Golden Pond.

† Harold Pinter, for his part, lost the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar to another On Golden Pond talent, Ernest Thompson, who adapted his own play.

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