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10 Best Biopics About Famous Authors!

Written by AnnMary Mailyan. Published: March 07 2023
(IFC Films)


Have you ever studied the lives of your favorite classic authors? Their biographical stories are no less inspiring and touching than their literary works, as most of these writers had a very difficult life with a bunch of challenges facing them from every corner. For me, personally, watching the biographical films about some of the best authors of the 18th-20th centuries is the best boost of motivation, because you see real people who, no matter what, refused to give up on their true passion and always pursued their dreams, and that truly is inspiring. 


To celebrate International Writers Day, which is observed on March 3, we decided to make a list with the best biographical movies about classic authors in order to inspire all the creative people, especially aspiring writers, who, like their idols, are struggling with their choice of career too. The films we’ve chosen are very instructive and fascinating at the same time, with the beautiful atmosphere of days past. So, without further ado, let’s start with the list!


1. Tolkien(2019)

Are there anyLord of the Rings fans out there? The LOTR Trilogy (as well as its prequel The Hobbit) has become legendary in the fantasy genre, as J.R.R. Tolkien created not just a fictional novel but a whole universe. The 2019 movie Tolkien shows us the life of Tolkien (Nicholas Hoult), with all its ups and downs. We get to see the author’s childhood, full of fantasy stories told by his mother, follow his educational journey, see the formation of the secret “Tea Club and Barrovian Society”, and explore Tolkien’s passion for writing and languages. The movie has the perfect "dark academia" vibes, so you surely won’t be disappointed! Available to stream on Hulu with a Premium subscription.




2. Mary Shelley(2017)

How didMary Shelley create the most famous monster of the gothic literature? This film about the young writer is dark and mysterious, just like her most prominent work,Frankenstein. Mary (Elle Fanning) was the daughter of a feminist writer, Mary Wollstonecraft, and publisher and philosopher,William Godwin. Since childhood, she’d been surrounded by books and literature, so the girl’s passion for writing is quite obvious. Later, when she married the charming poetPercy Shelley (Douglas Booth), she struggled to find her own voice, as her whole lifestyle was affected and overshadowed by others. Stream on Pluto TV and Tubi. 




3. Rebel in the Rye(2017)

It seems like the talented actor Nicholas Hoult has a special love for playing famous writers, as he got to embody not only Tolkien butJ.D. Salinger as well. In Rebel in the Rye, we see Salinger’s life before and after his success. He was a very talented writer in college, who was trying to make his writings stand out. After he participates in and returns from World War II, the world isn’t the same for the young boy, and he dedicates his whole time to writing in order to heal psychologically. However, the events of the war and the overwhelming success of his first and most famous novel,Catcher in the Rye, leave a huge mark on Salinger’s life, and he chooses to seal himself from public and live a life of a “castaway”.  Stream on Tubi.




4. Colette(2018)

Keira Knightley and historical films can be considered synonymous, as the actress has a large collection of period dramas under her belt, and she nails these roles perfectly! In this film, Knightley got to play a famous French writerSidonie-Gabrielle Colette, who married an older writer, Willy, and became his ghostwriter. Willy published Colette’s novels, The Claudine Books, based on her childhood, under his name, and together they became one of the most recognizable couples in France. However, despite the massive popularity, Colette often felt outshone by her husband, who took full credit for her creations, so the talented writer had to find her own way to regain her name. Stream on Netflix.




5. Goodbye Christopher Robin(2017)

IfWinnie-the-Pooh was your favorite childhood story, we must warn you that his movie might break your heart a little. The story behind one of the famous and jolliest characters is quite sad. The movie tells about Alan Alexander Milne(Domhnall Gleeson) and his struggles to write a novel. One day, as he’s walking through the woods with his son Billy, aka Christopher Robin, he starts making up stories about the boy and his favorite stuffed animals. Later, along with his illustrator, they begin working on the books about the famous bear. Christopher Robin and his favorite imaginary friends become symbols, which causes lots of problems for the little boy. His whole life, Christopher faces the aftermath of his father’s works, and only participating in World War II makes him realize the true gift his father gave to this world. Available for rent on Prime Video, YouTube, and Apple TV+.




6. Becoming Jane(2007)

The world definitely wouldn’t be the same without one of the most prominent female writers of 18th/19th centuries and her amazing works, which later turned into cinematic masterpieces. Becoming Jane is a biographical film about Jane Austen (Anne Hathaway), her struggles with the rules of society, her passion for writing, and her unhappy ending with Thomas Lefroy (James McAvoy). The atmosphere of the movie is truly incredible, with all the fascinating sceneries of Regency-era England. The most attentive fans noticed lots of similarities between this film andPride and Prejudice, as well as their differences of color grading of both movies, which feels like the perfect metaphor of symbolizing Austen’s real sad love story and the happy one she created for her characters. Stream now on Pluto TV and Paramount+.




7. "The Lost Boys" (1978)

A little more on the obscure side, but if you can find a copy, it's well worth it! (You can watch Part 1 below.) While Finding Neverland (2004) told a highly fictionalized (and somewhat preposterous) story of the life of Peter Panauthor J.M. Barrie, this BBC miniseries starringIan Holm goes to extraordinary lengths to portray the truth about the often misunderstood, somewhat reclusive author, and his relationship to the five Llewelyn-Davies brothers, who were the inspiration for his most famous forever-childlike character, whom he later adopted after the death of their parents. The series taps into Barrie's sad existence of both wishing he'd been able to have children of his own and his desire to preserve youth for as long as possible.




8. Mrs. Potter(2006)

This movie will be the ideal choice for a cozy evening watch, as it has the perfect Spring vibes, with the most amazing scenery and cottagecore aesthetics, as well as the cutest illustrations of Peter Rabbit and his friends. Beatrix Potter (Renée Zellweger) often feels like the burden of her family, as she is an unmarried woman who spends all her time painting animals and making up stories about them. None of her relatives or friends take her works seriously; however, as Beatrix gets the courage to print her works, things rapidly change. Peter Rabbitinstantly becomes popular and loved not only by children but by adults as well. This cute yet relatable story will absolutely warm your heart and urge you to never let others label or define your dreams. Available to stream on Hulu with a Premium subscription.




9. Saving Mr. Banks(2013)

Okay, let’s confess: who else dreamed about having the coolest nanny like Mary Poppins? The adventures she brought to the Banks siblings were honestly the best. Nevertheless, the life story of Pamela Travers was far from the magical story she created. Unlike other movies, Saving Mr. Banks shows Travers's (Emma Thompson) life long after her success, though we still get flashbacks of the author’s childhood and understand her life and the inspiration behind Mary Poppins. In the movie, Walt Disney(Tom Hanks) wants to buy the film rights to make an adaptation of the famous story, just like he promised to his daughters years before. The job isn’t as easy as it seems, as Pamela is very stubborn and has lots of rules and requirements for the movie. Stream on Disney+.




10. The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)

Charles Dickens changed the concept of Christmas, and his work has become one of the most popular Christmas stories, with hundreds of adaptations and variations of Scrooge. In this movie, we get to see the story of how Dickens (Dan Stevens) came up with A Christmas Carol and how he managed to write and publish the story within 6 weeks, even though no one believed in him. This movie’s not a regular biography and can be considered a fantasy, as the two worlds -- the real life of Dickens and the fictional story -- get constantly intertwined. We see Dickens’s characters come alive in the real world, and Charles himself appearing inside the story and interacting with his creation. Available to stream on Hulu with a Premium subscription.