Oscar-winning Hollywood actress Emma Stone is to star in a film adaptation of Alasdair Gray’s 1992 novel Poor Things, set in the 19th century and itself borrowing from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Titled Poor Things and scheduled to begin filming later this year, the film will see Stone reunite with Greek film-maker Yorgos Lanthimos, who directed Oscar-winning 2018 historical black comedy The Favourite.

Searchlight Pictures, one of the companies producing the film, describes it as “a whirlwind adventure hopping from Alexandria to Odessa to a Parisian brothel” and “ostensibly the memoirs of late 19th century Glasgow physician Archibald McCandless” in which he tells “the bizarre life of over-sexed, volatile Bella Baxter, an emancipated woman and a female Frankenstein” whose brain is replaced with that of her unborn child after she drowns herself.

The script will be a collaboration between Lanthimos and Australian screenwriter Tony McNamara, co-writer of The Favourite and creator of comedy drama The Great, about the rise of Catherine the Great. It is not yet known if the production will film in Glasgow.


Alasdair Gray at work on a mural

Gray, who died in December 2019 aged 85, illustrated the novel himself - the original cover bore the inscription "Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation" - and, in a typically playful move, included in it fake review quotes and presented it as a collection of found documents.

The novel went on to win the 1992 Whitbread Novel Award and the Guardian Fiction Prize. Reviewing it after its publication in the US in 1993, the Los Angeles Times wrote: "Probably a crank, possibly a genius, certainly an original and independent voice, Alasdair Gray, unbowed denizen of the dismal city of Glasgow, has the look of a latter-day William Blake".