Bleak House


In the late nineteenth century, actress Fanny Janauschek acted in a stage version of Bleak House in which she played both Lady Dedlock and her maid Hortense. The two characters never appear on stage at the same time. In 1876 John Pringle Burnett's play, Jo found success in London with his wife, Jennie Lee playing Jo, the crossing-sweeper.[16] In 1893, Jane Coombs acted in a version of Bleak House.[17]

A 1901 short film, The Death of Poor Joe, is the oldest known surviving film featuring a Charles Dickens character (Jo in Bleak House).[18]

In the silent film era, Bleak House was filmed in 1920 and 1922. The latter version featured Sybil Thorndike as Lady Dedlock.[19]

In 1928, a short film made in the UK in the Phonofilm sound-on-film process starred Bransby Williams as Grandfather Smallweed.[20]

In 1998, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a radio adaptation of five hour-long episodes, starring Michael Kitchen as John Jarndyce.[21]

The BBC has produced three television adaptations of Bleak House. The first serial, Bleak House, was broadcast in 1959 in eleven half-hour episodes.[22] The second Bleak House, starring Diana Rigg and Denholm Elliott, aired in 1985 as an eight-part series.[23] In 2005, the third Bleak House was broadcast in fifteen episodes starring Anna Maxwell Martin, Gillian Anderson, Denis Lawson, Charles Dance, and Carey Mulligan.[24] It won a Peabody Award that same year because it "created “appointment viewing,” soap-style, for a series that greatly rewarded its many extra viewers."[25]

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