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From Books to Screen: Harry Potter and Other Literary Favourites Adapted into Movies and TV Shows




Books are one of the biggest source materials for films as well as shows, especially if they have been received well by readers. This is why, over the last few decades, several famous books have been adapted into movies and TV shows by directors, studios, network giants or streaming platforms.

A look at the History of cinema, which is far wider and older than that of television, shows that some of the earliest movies were based on literary characters. An example would be Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Written in 1897, it established the ‘vampire genre’ in popular culture through its timeless character, Count Dracula. No wonder it is one of the most enduring classics of the horror genre, and, as such, has been adapted countless times in movies and TV shows since the first major version, the German film Nosferatu (1922).

But not just horror, a wide range of books straddling genres from mystery to romance have been adapted over the years. Of course, nearly all of them were first picked for theatrical audiences, and it is only in recent years that several of them have been released on the smaller screen, thanks to platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+.

A quick look at the adaptations also reveals an interesting fact: British TV audiences have been served more with small-screen adaptations of popular books than American audiences. This could be because of the wealth of classic literature of the 18th and 19th centuries written by British authors or due to the ability of established networks such as BBC and ITV to create unforgettable period TV shows from such literature to positive reception.

Check out our list of novels turned into a movie or a TV show

In fact, several British or French works of literature are the ones most frequently adapted for the screen, both big and small. These include multiple versions, spin-offs and spoofs based on the works of British writer and Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle, Scottish novelist Robert Louis Stevenson, French novelist Alexandre Dumas, Russian icon Leo Tolstoy, and English literary legend Agatha Christie.

English novelist Jane Austen is perhaps the one whose works have been most adapted across TV, cinema, stage and radio. English writer Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre is possibly the most adapted book with more than 35 movies and TV shows in multiple languages, starting with the American silent film Jane Eyre (1910).

Famous books adapted into movies and TV shows