April 15, 2015

“H is for Hawk” film rights sold to the actress who plays Cersei in “Game of Thrones”


H is for HawkFilm rights for Helen Macdonald‘s H is for Hawk have been sold to Lena Headey. You may recognize Headey as the actress who plays Cersei in the HBO adaption of Game of Thrones.

What do goshawks and George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire have in common?

Blood. A lot of blood.

Macdonald’s success story is a rare breed: hers is a book that could easily be dismissed for splitting itself in too many genres. It’s about history, class, family, another author, an animal. It should be shelved as a memoir about grief, a biography of Terence Hanbury White, and a work of nonfiction about raising a hawk.

H is for Hawk has been named the Costa Book of the Year, and it received the Samuel Johnson Prize. It’s been a runaway commercial success. The Bookseller reports it has sold about 160K copies so far.

Headey said, “I fell in love when I read H is for Hawk. Head over heels. To be trusted to develop Helen’s wonderful book into the film it should be, is an honor and a joy.”

A goshawk’s lifespan is estimated to be between ten months and eleven years… which is to say nobody has any idea how long a goshawk will live. Books have about the same shelf life (nobody knows how long a book will live). A film deal will certainly help Macdonald’s book remain perched on bookstore shelves a bit longer.


Kirsten Reach is an editor at Melville House.