Sunday, March 10, 2013

Reel People: Felicity Jones is Nelly Ternan

The film is The Invisible Woman, about Charles Dickens and his mistress. It is directed by Ralph Fiennes with a screenplay by Abi Morgan. The screenplay is based on the book The Invisible Woman: The Story of Nelly Ternan and Charles Dickens by Claire Tomalin.

Nelly Ternan

She was born Ellen Lawless Ternan on March 3, 1839 in Rochester, Kent to Thomas Lawless Ternan and Frances Elanor Ternan. Ellen ("Nelly") was one of four children, although her brother died in infancy. Her other siblings were female, and the three of them quickly took to acting on stage.In 1842, at the age of three, she had her stage debut in the German melodrama Menschenhass und Reue by August von Kotzebue.

The children's involvement in the theater was considered essential for the family's survival and Nelly's acting skills were regarded to be lesser than her sisters.

During the week of Christmas in 1844 Nelly's father was involved in a fight which seemed to lead to a period of depression which lead him to be placed in an asylum. In 1846 Nelly's father died of suspected suicide.

Nelly's sisters and mother continued to act, and in 1857, after just turning 18, Nelly met Charles Dickens when he spotter her performing in London's Haymarket Theatre. Charles Dickens cast Nelly along with her mother and one of her sisters in Wilkie Collins' The Frozen Deep.

Charles Dickens was forty-five at the time that they met, and it is believed that shortly after there first encounter Nelly became Charles Dickens' mistress. In 1858 this secret affair was exposed when Charles Dickens' wife Catherine "Kate" discovered a gold bracelet mailed to Charles that was intended for Nelly.

This incident ended Charles and Kate's 22 year marriage.

The relationships between Nelly and Charles remained a secret, although Nelly left the stage in 1860 and traveled with Charles, often giving a fake name. It is believed that Nelly inspired many of Charles Dicken's characters in stories he wrote during this period of his life. Even in Dicken's death in 1868 he left enough money to Nelly to support her the rest of her life.

Nelly would marry six years after Charles Dickens died. Her husband, George Wharton Robinson, was fourteen years younger than Nelly, although she misrepresented her own age to him, pretending to be 23 when she was actually 37. They would have two children, Geoffery and Gladys. Together they ran a boys school in East Kent.

George died in 1910. She would spend the years following with her sister Frances in the seaside town of Southsea, until Frances died in 1913.

Nelly died in London on April 25, 1914 of a reoccurring case of breast cancer.

The Invisible Woman

The Invisible Woman tells the story Nelly and Charles relationship together. In addition to being directed by Ralph Fiennes, Fiennes stars in the role of Charles Dickens.

In addition to Jones and Fiennes, the cast also includes Tom Hollander as novelist/playwright Wilkie Collins and his girlfriend Caroline Graves is played by Michelle Fairley. The film also feature Kristin Scott Thomas.

Will Felicity Jones receive awards attention, maybe even an Oscar nomination for portraying this Reel (Real) Person?

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