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Program Title
Notorious Woman

Episode Title

Episode number:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Original broadcast date

Cast Characters
Rosemary Harris George Sand
George Chakiris Frederic Chopin
Sinead Cusack
Jeremy Irons
Cathleen Nesbit
Jonathan Newth
Joyce Redman
Leon Vitali
Alan Howard Prosper Merimee
Lewis Fiander


Producer: Pieter Rogers
Director: Waris Hussein

NOTORIOUS WOMAN/Episode 1/ Intro by Alastair Cooke

Good evening, I'm Alistair Cooke.

We are going to see now the first episode of a play in seven parts about the life, and innumerable loves, of the most famous woman novelist of her day–her heyday being the middle of the nineteenth century: the French woman who was christened Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin.

Luckily, we don't have to break any jaws on that moniker, because she changed it. She had enormous literary talent at a time when a woman's talents were expected to be confined to the kitchen, the salon, the bedroom, and the garden. So she adopted the pen name of George Sand–and by the time her first novel had been acclaimed as a masterpiece by Balzac, it was too late to say it would have been a masterpiece if it had been written by a man.

To say that George Sand lived through turbulent times in the history of France is like saying she was born at almost any time during the nineteenth century. Well, she was born in 1804, a few months before Napoleon Bonaparte–the soldier of the glorious revolution that abolished the monarchy–took the crown from the hands of the Pope and crowned himself Emperor. She was ten at the time of the Battle of Waterloo; twenty when the monarchy was restored; she lived through the workers revolution of 1830, the revolution of 1848, and the Second Empire, the siege of Paris in 1870, and the beginning of the Third Republic. But we meet her first in the comparatively stable time of Napoleon's exile. She is sixteen. Her father is long dead. Her mother is a disreputable lady who abandoned her to the care of her grandmother. The grandmother has been disturbed to hear that the girl has just gone through a mystical religious conversion, in the convent where she's at school. The grandmother is a fine, skeptical eighteenth-century type who distrusts enthusiasm of any kind; she thinks that the business of convents is to train young girls in gentle manners but by no means to produce saints. So she sends for the girl we must call Aurore, at this stage, and see that she is fetched home to the grandmother's country estate.

Episode number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

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