8 books that need to be adapted into British period dramas

Don’t get us wrong, we do love seeing the classics of literature remade every decade or so.

But there are so many books that have never been brought to screen that we’d love to see adapted instead.

Here, our guest writer Elizabeth Niedbala has selected eight titles that deserve to become films or TV series.


‘Russell & Holmes’ series by Laurie R. King (1994-present)

An ongoing series by Laurie R. King, the books follow Sherlock Holmes and his apprentice-turned-wife Mary Russell. They travel the globe solving mysteries, meet historical figures, and make use of disguises and fights.

The series begins in 1915 and currently goes through to 1925. There are fifteen books in print, with miscellaneous short stories added in as well.

Adapting these for television would take advantage of the episodic quality of the books, as well as allow room for plot and character development.

The Russell & Holmes books are available on Amazon.


‘No Great Mischief’ by Alistair MacLeod (1999)

Taking place in the present and the past, MacLeod draws a portrait of the MacDonald family.

They emigrate to Canada in 1779 and the main character, Alexander, reflects on his childhood and young adulthood in the mid twentieth century. It’s a moving portrait of family, heritage, and the events that tie the two together.

Best adapted as a movie, former Doctor Who stars David Tennant and Peter Capaldi should be involved, if only because they’re both Scottish.

No Great Mischief is available on Amazon.


‘London’ by Edward Rutherfurd (1998)

This could make the ultimate British period drama.

London begins during England’s earliest recorded history, focusing on a Druid village, and continues until the present day.

Every time period is visited: Roman, Tudor, Victorian, Edwardian, and World War II come to life as characters interact, intermarry, and become as every bit as expansive as the titular city itself.

This would best be suited as a TV series, and it would be fun to have different directors for each time period. Literally every actor in the United Kingdom should be involved, because there are more than enough roles to go around.

London is available on Amazon.


‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern (2011)

Set in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, The Night Circus is rich with magic, drama, and intrigue.

Morgenstern has an eye and an ear for capturing small details in her world – colours, smells, sounds.

Colour plays a large part in the creation of this world, which seems a lot like our own. A TV adaptation would be ideal, to give us more time to live in the world, but a movie would suffice, as long as Baz Luhrman is set to direct!

The Night Circus is available on Amazon.


‘The Alice Network’ by Kate Quinn (2018)

This story features two distinct story lines, set around both World Wars.

World War I involves Eve, a spy in northern France. Post-World War II centers around Charlie, a pregnant American girl looking for her cousin.

Instead, she finds Eve, now an old woman, wracked by guilt from the previous war. But they team up, along with Eve’s Scottish driver Finn, for a road trip across France.

The scenery alone would be enough to see this movie (France!) but the themes of female strength, friendship, and the effects of war make this book a must-read.

Quinn has written about her dream cast on her website; actors include Ksenia Solo as Charlie, Mia Wasikowska and Emma Thompson as Young and Old Eve, Michiel Huisman as Finn, and Mads Mikkelsen as Eve’s former sadistic boss.

The Alice Network is available on Amazon.


‘The Uninvited Guests’ by Sadie Jones (2012)

What says ‘British period drama’ better than a crumbling English manor?

On Emerald’s birthday, a train crashes and the survivors are brought to the family’s said crumbling manor.

Alongside her mother, brother, childhood friends and cook, they deal with a man who isn’t all that he appears. The youngest member of the family is simultaneously carrying out her own mad-cap scheme.

A dark, strange and unique story, it begs to be filmed for the big screen. Lily Collins (Les Miserables) should be in this, as Emerald.

The Uninvited Guests is available on Amazon.


‘The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle’ by Stuart Turton (2018)

Another crumbling English manor, this one set in an ambiguous time period. (Judging by the cover and the events of the book, I’m going to say the 1920s or the 1930s).

In a classic whodunit, Turton upends all expectations by giving the main character some instructions: eight days to find the killer. Eight different people to inhabit. And you can’t leave until you solve it.

A deliciously complex story, it begs for an adaptation. Tom Hiddleston needs to be involved somehow, please.

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is available on Amazon.


‘Stalking Jack the Ripper’ by Kerri Maniscalco (2017)

The title says it all. Audrey Rose Wadsworth is a society girl studying forensic science on the side, despite her sex.

The novel begins right after the first murder in August, 1888 and is filled with accurate and vivid descriptions of nineteenth century medical practices.

The time period itself is entirely adaptable, as most of us well know, and the subject of Jack the Ripper is one that never grows old. Told with a fresh perspective, this is the start of a series. This franchise would not lose steam quickly.

Stalking Jack the Ripper is available on Amazon.