Debut novel success Debut novel success

The debut novel of Creative  Writing Master’s alumna Elizabeth Macneal is to be adapted into a TV series by the production company behind popular ITV show Marcella.

Elizabeth, who received the Malcom Bradbury Memorial Award, a UEA postgraduate scholarship, graduated in 2017. She applied for the course to improve her writing after her first two novels were rejected by publishers.

“I had the most wonderful year at UEA, I learned so much and I do not believe I would have been able to write my novel without having done the course,” she said. “The tutors were excellent and really nurtured my prose.”

Her novel, The Doll Factory, is a tale of curiosity, love and possession set in 1850s London as The Great Exhibition is being constructed in Hyde Park. Two people meet in the crowd, starting a tale of obsession. It will be released in spring 2019 by Picador and translated into 26 languages.

Elizabeth describes finding a publisher as her greatest achievement so far. “Within a day and a half of my novel going on submission, we had offers from 14 publishers. It was mad and wonderful.”

Now, the UK-based production company Buccaneer Media has secured the rights to adapt the unpublished work into a TV series. Elizabeth says: “I was thrilled by their passion for the characters, their enthusiasm for London’s history, and I know that Iris, Silas and Albie couldn’t find a better home.”

The Doll Factory has also won the Caledonia Novel Award 2018, given to unpublished and self-published novelists. One of the judges, Literary Agent Madeleine Milburn, said: “Though its setting is Victorian, there is so much for the modern reader to relate to. Central to the book is a hugely contemporary theme: female empowerment. Iris has dreams constrained by society and her place in it, but she also possesses a dogged resilience that compels her forward.”

A first chapter preview of The Doll Factory is available on the Caledonia Novel Award website. You can also read Elizabeth’s alumni blog on the UEA Stories site.