The Buccaneers is the last novel written by Edith Wharton. It was unfinished at the time of her death in 1937, and published in that form in 1938. Wharton's manuscript ends with Lizzy's inviting Nan to a house party to which Guy Thwarte has also been invited.
The story revolves around five wealthy and ambitious American girls, their guardians and the titled, landed but impoverished Englishmen who marry them as the girls participate in the London Season in search of a titled English gentleman for matrimonial purposes. As the novel progresses, the plot follows Nan and her marriage to the Duke of Tintagel.
It is a story of the morals held by fashionable society at the time, when it was considered more important to marry for social position than for romantic love. The novel is also a poignant example of art imitating life, since one of the stories resembles the ill-fated marriage of heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt and the Duke of Marlborough, as well as Lady Randolph Churchill's marriages, to some extent.
1993 completion and miniseries
Independently, in the same year, the BBC hired screenwriter Maggie Wadey to adapt and finish the novel for a television serial adaptation, which was produced by the BBC and American PBS broadcaster WGBH, and screened on BBC One in the UK and in the Masterpiece Theatre series in the United States, airing in 1995.
A companion book to the BBC series was published by Viking in 1995 (ISBN 0-670-86645-8). For this book, Angela Mackworth-Young finished the novel based on the screenplay of Maggie Wadey. As a result the novel has three endings: Wharton's unfinished novel published in 1938, the Mainwaring finished novel published in 1993, and the Mackworth-Young finished novel published in 1995.
A previous children's television series produced by ITC Entertainment in 1956 has no relation to the Edith Wharton novel.
List of characters
- Annabel "Nan" St. George
- Virginia "Jinny" St. George
- Conchita "Connie" Closson
- Elizabeth "Lizzy" Elmsworth
- Mabel "Mab" Elmsworth
- Laura Testvalley, governess
- Miss Jacqueline March
- Ushant, the Duke of Tintagel (Julius, Duke of Trevennick)
- Guy Thwarte (Guy Thwaite)
- Lord Richard Marable
- Lord Seadown
- Hector Robinson
- Mrs. St. George
- Colonel Tracy St. George
- Mrs. Closson
- Mr. Closson
- Teddy de Dios-Santos
- Mrs. Elmsworth
- Lord Brightlingsea
- Selina, Lady Brightlingsea
- Blanche, The Dowager Duchess of Tintagel (The Dowager Duchess of Trevennick)
- Sir Helmsley Thwarte (Sir Helmsley Thwaite)
- Lady Idina Churt (Idina Hatton)
- Miles Dawnley
NOTE: Maggie Wadey's BBC screenplay changed the names and eliminated some characters. The Wadey changes are in parentheses. The characters eliminated in the Wadey screen play are Mabel Elmsworth, Lizzy' sister, and Teddy de Dios-Santos, Conchita's half-brother.
In the second paragraph of the Mackworth-Young's first chapter, Mabel Elmsworth is written out of the story as having turned down the marriage offer of the Duke of Falmenneth and married a "dashing, intelligent, young captain of the Guards". Teddy is written out completely.
In the Mainwaring version, Mabel Elmsworth marries an older American steel tycoon and later returns to England as an extremely wealthy widow. Mabel, Lizzy Elmsworth and Hector Robinson have more significant roles in the Mainwaring finished novel.
- Masterpiece Theatre's synopsis
- Article in Current on the controversial TV adaptation
- The Buccaneers (1995) at imdb.com