Rare First Draft Of ‘Withnail And I’ Up For Auction | Film News



If you’ve got a spare £6000 knocking around, you could own a piece of movie history. The first draft of the novel that was turned into the cult film Withnail and I is to be auctioned at Sotheby’s tomorrow – December 15.


The unpublished novel, about 2 out-of-work actors (played by Richard E. Grant and  Paul McGann) was written by Bruce Robinson between 1969 and 1970, and features a number of the author’s handwritten notes. Robinson, a once-aspiring actor himself, described the novel as “70% autobiographical“. He both adapted his novel to write the film’s screenplay, and directed the film, which was released in 1987.


Withnail and I is now widely regarded as one of the most quotable films around, with corkers such as Withnail’s famous line “We want the finest wines available to humanity, we want them here, and we want them now“. The film received a luke-warm reception at the box office, but has built up a cult following after its video and DVD releases.


The movie was produced by Handmade Films, a company that was co-owned by The Beatles’ George Harrison. And if you listen closely, you can hear Harrison’s While My Guitar Gently Weeps in the background during a scene in the film. The Beatles rarely gave permission for their songs to appear in feature films, but Harrison allowed it on this occasion.


Robinson has continued to work in the film industry, both as a writer and director. He wrote and directed 2011’s The Rum Diary, starring Johnny Depp; and Robinson’s short story Paranoia In The Launderette was adapted for the screen as A Fantastic Fear Of Everything (2012) starring Simon Pegg.


The Withnail and I novel is auctioned in the Sotheby’s sale of English literature, children’s books and illustrations, and is expected to fetch £4000-£6000.



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