‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ on Film: Dramatising Mental Illness

  • Janet Beer


In 1988 a ninety-minute adaptation of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman was made for BBC television; filming took place in the autumn of that year and it was ready for broadcasting in January 1989 although it was not actually shown until January 1992. The project had been initiated by the producer, Sarah Curtis, who invited the dramatist, Maggie Wadey, to write the screenplay.1 Whilst the adaptation was almost entirely the work of Maggie Wadey a number of decisions about the way in which the text would be approached and also how to shoot and edit the film were made collaboratively between dramatist, producer and the director, John Clive.


Gender Divide Visual Text Figurative Language Captive Imagination Dialectic Structure 
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  1. 2.
    Gilman, Charlotte Perkins The Yellow Wallpaper, 1872 (London: Virago Press, 1973), p. 9.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    See especially Juliann E. Fleenor, ‘The Gothic Prism: Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Gothic Stories and Her Autobiography’, pp. 139–158 in Erskine, Thomas L. and Connie L. Richards (eds) Charlotte Perkins Gilman: ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ (New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1993).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Gilman, Charlotte Perkins ‘The Rocking Chair’, first published in Worthington’s Illustrated, I (May 1893), pp. 453–9.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Showalter, Elaine The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture, 1830–1980 (London: Virago Press, 1985).Google Scholar
  5. 12.
    The Female Malady, p. 125; the quotation is taken from Maudsley’s Responsibility in Mental Disease (2nd edn London: Kegan Paul, 1874), p. 40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 16.
    Lane, Ann J. To Herland and Beyond: The Life and Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman (New York, Meridian, 1991), p. 129.Google Scholar
  7. 23.
    Golden, Catherine (ed.) The Captive Imagination: A Casebook on ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ (New York: The Feminist Press, 1992), p. 156.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Janet Beer 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janet Beer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishRoehampton InstituteLondonUK

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