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Rachel Weisz to star in The Secret Life of Dr. James Miranda Barry

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Maven Pictures have picked up The Secret Life of Dr. James Miranda Barry with Rachel Weisz set to star. Maven and Weisz previously worked together on The Whistleblower.

The true story follows James Miranda Barry, born Margaret Bulkley. She lived her entire life as a man so she could study and practice medicine, becoming a prominent surgeon who spent her groundbreaking career championing the rights of the lower classes and pushing for medical reforms and better sanitary conditions. After becoming an army surgeon and beginning work as a medical assistant in Cape Town, Barry was promoted to the role of personal physician to Governor Lord Charles Somerset. The pairing led to a scandalous relationship, viewed as homosexual while Barry’s gender remained hidden. While in Cape Town, barry performed one of the first known successful caesarean sections, saving the lives of both mother and child. The truth of Barry’s life was not discovered until after her death in 1865.

The film is an adaptation of Scanty Particulars: The Scandalous Life and Astonishing Secret of James Barry, Queen Victoria’s Most Eminent Military Doctor, by Rachel Holmes.

In the 1820s, Dr. James Barry burst into the English establishment from nowhere. He landed in Cape Town and became the leading military doctor in the South African colony, working tirelessly to improve the conditions of free and enslaved women, lepers, and the indigent. Barry’s further travels included postings to the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and Canada. In his career, he collided with some of the leading figures of the age, and his exploits were regarded with fascination by Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.

Barry was a flamboyant bon vivant: fashionably dressed, flirtatious, and always accompanied by a poodle. Wherever he went, he sparked gossip, made enemies, and inspired relentless curiosity about his identity–curiosity that erupted into international scandal upon Barry’s death, when his maidservant discovered the truth about this brilliant but mysterious icon of the Victorian age.

Sounds like it should make for a great film.

Source: The Tracking Board

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