The Glass Virgin

The Glass Virgin is a British three-part television serial, or long TV movie, first broadcast in 1995, starring Emily Mortimer and Brendan Coyle, directed by Sarah Hellings, based on a novel by Catherine Cookson.

The Glass Virgin
GenrePeriod drama
Written byCatherine Cookson (novel, 1969)
Alan Seymour (screenplay)
Directed bySarah Hellings
StarringEmily Mortimer
Brendan Coyle
Nigel Havers
Music byChristopher Gunning
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series1
No. of episodes3
Producer(s)Ray Marshall
Running time180 minutes(three episodes of 60 minutes)[1]
Production company(s)Festival Films/World Wide[1]
Original networkTyne Tees Television / ITV[1]
Picture format16:9
Audio formatStereo
Original release6 January (1995-01-06)[1] –
20 January 1995 (1995-01-20)


Producer Ray Marshall bought the film rights to several of the period works of Catherine Cookson, beginning in 1989 with The Fifteen Streets, which had been turned into a successful stage play. These productions, sponsored by Tyne Tees Television, were very popular and drew between ten and fourteen million viewers each.[2]

Reviewing The Glass Virgin for The Independent, Jasper Rees commented that it “might have been sponsored by the Northumbrian tourist board, as it gives the impression that the region endlessly basks in sunshine.”[2]


The action takes place in the north of England in the 1870s. Annabella Lagrange (Emily Mortimer), the daughter of rich upper class parents, finds her life crumbling when she discovers a terrible secret. She runs away from home on her own, then meets Manuel Mendoza (Brendan Coyle), a young Irishman she remembers as her father’s departed groom. He is now a traveller, roaming Northumberland in a horse-drawn caravan looking for work, and Annabella soon finds herself travelling with him, but in a separate bed. Many of the people she meets treat her with suspicion, and she feels she belongs nowhere, so is glad of the understanding of Manuel. Meanwhile, her family, and especially her father Edmund Lagrange (Nigel Havers) are looking for her.



  1. ^ a b c d Nick Thomas, BFI Film and Television Handbook 1995 (British Film Institute, 1996), p. 339
  2. ^ a b Julie Anne Taddeo, ed., Catherine Cookson Country: On the Borders of Legitimacy, Fiction, and History (Routledge, 2016), p. 172

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