Clemence and Laurence Housman collaborate on “The Were-Wolf,” a film script for a silent movie

Once Clemence and Laurence Housman retired in 1924 to the village of Street, in Somerset, where they had established Longmeadow House. Here they collaborated on a film script based on Clemence’s Were-Wolf story (Kooistra, “Clemence Housman’s The Were-Wolf: Querying Transgression, Seeking Trans/Formation"). After all, The Were-Wolf existed in print and in illustrations, why didn’t it also deserve to be part of this new artistic medium?

Adapted for silent films, as “talkies" were only beginning to be commercially possible in the mid- to late-1920s, the script version of The Were-Wolf is even more bleak than the original tale. In the Foreword, written in Laurence’s hand, the siblings describe the appearance of the werewolf in “the folk-lore of France, Germany, Russia, Scandinavia, French Canada,” and other places. The Housmans describe how the film could take place in “the colour and atmosphere of Scandinavian life, but the scenes might actually well be laid in the rural districts of French Canada." The film plot differs slightly from the original story with the introduction of Marta, an established and known lover of Sweyn, whose happiness with him is upset when White Fell appears. Marta balances the scales to offer a young, domestic female figure where before there was only the threat of White Fell and her power. But the same darkness sets over the characters as in Housman’s original tale, and in a gruesome turn, Marta and Sweyn are reunited over Christian’s dead body (Housman script, Bryn Mawr Special Collections).

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