Books by A. C. H. Smith, Author of Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal


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Edward and Mrs Simpson | The Dark Crystal | Wagner | Lady Jane | Labyrinth

Edward and Mrs Simpson

Novelisation of British TV Series. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1978. ISBN 0-297-77516-2 (hardback), ISBN 0-7088-1313-5 (paperback)

Book cover of Zero Summer by ACH Smith

From my forthcoming memoir:
I was commissioned to write the novelisation of Edward and Mrs Simpson, in seven weeks this time. Simon Raven was writing the television scripts for Thames TV, locked in a room in Deal, at his own request, so that he could not get at the booze. As it came off his typewriter, each of the seven episodes was rushed to me in Bristol, one a week. With tv marketing behind it the book came out in several languages, and was serialised in the ever patriotic Daily Express. Auberon Waugh, who had previously been kind enough to invite me to a Private Eye lunch after I had interviewed him on my HTV programme, publicly vented his disgust at the whole Edward and Mrs Simpson project, but I didn’t mind, because at the launch of the series, at the Dorchester, I got to dance with Cherie Lunghi. When she writes her memoir, I do not think she will record having danced with me.

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The Dark Crystal

Novelisation of movie, Holt, Rinehart & Winston,1982. ISBN 0-03-062436-3

Book cover of The Dark Crystal by ACH Smith

From my forthcoming memoir:
I did two books for Jim Henson, The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, and thoroughly enjoyed working for him. He was a charming man, but what mattered was that, unlike most people who commission novelisations, he cared about the book, as a legitimate child of the movie, as he cared about the film. He created perfect conditions for my work, paying for me to spend as many days as I needed at Elstree, watching the shooting, getting myself inward to the story, ensuring the detail was right in my descriptive passages. I was supplied not just with the film script but also with a stack of research materials, think-papers and production drawings. You owe it to the reader to be true to the script, but I was allowed as much scope as I wanted to expand the narrative, deepen it, comment or digress. When I delivered the first draft, Henson read the manuscript himself, and came back with twenty pages of editorial comment. Once I had taken that on board, he sat me down with him for lunch and a talk through what I had done. On points of disagreement between us his default position was to respect my argument, and only seldom to insist on his.

Delightful, enthralling fantasy based on the cinematic creativity of the late Jim Henson, this book proves much deeper than mere action-oriented adventure--of which there is plenty. Almost a psychological novel, THE DARK CRYSTAL reveals the coming-of-age of the last male Gelfling on the planet of Thra.
— From Amazon review

— Listen to podcast of A.C.H.Smith / Sam Downie 60-minute interview about novelising for Jim Henson >

Now available in hardback from, with supplementary material, including many pages of notes from Jim Henson.

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Novelisation of movie, 1983. English-language edition published 2012 by Loxwood Stoneleigh. ISBN 978-1-85135-035-3

Cover of Wagner, a novelisation by A. C. H. Smith

Wagner is a novelisation of Charles Wood's brilliantly imaginative screenplay, written in the early 1980s. Directed by Tony Palmer, the film starred Richard Burton, in his last major role, and Vanessa Redgrave, and uniquely brought together the three knights, Olivier, Gielgud, and Richardson. Richard Hornak, in Opera News, found it to be one of the most beautiful motion pictures in history. Read more >

Read an excerpt >

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Lady Jane

Novelisation of movie, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1985. ISBN 0-297-78723-3

Book cover of Lady Jane by ACH Smith

From my forthcoming memoir:
The day I delivered the manuscript of Sebastian, Weidenfelds had asked me to do another novelisation in a hurry, of Lady Jane. I did not want to do it, but I was in a soft trap. The story of Lady Jane Grey happened in 1554, and my Cabot novel finished with the death of Sebastian in 1557. I was steeped in the period. How could I let the firm down by refusing them a few weeks' work? Would that I had known what they would allow to happen to Sebastian, a few months later. It was not easy to do a decent job on Lady Jane, because it was a lousy screenplay. I had to scrape off what I could of the sentimental love story that had been varnished over David Edgar's concept, probably at Paramount's behest, and do what I could to restore the poignant and far more interesting true history.

The book was a big hit in Italy, where there is an audience that adores royal soap. Just look at Berlusconi.

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Novelisation of movie, Henry Holt & Co, 1986. ISBN 0-03-007322-7

Book cover of Labyrinth by ACH Smith

From my forthcoming memoir:
Before writing Labyrinth I spent a day with Terry Jones, the scriptwriter, at his home in Peckham. He showed me a scene that had been dropped from the movie, for technical reasons. It was beautiful, and I restored it in the book. Henson did not object. When my final manuscripts had been approved, they went to the Henson office in New York for copy-editing - 'translation into American,' the editor called it. I spent many hours on transatlantic calls with her, working through The Dark Crystal. When it came to Labyrinth, a few years later, I suggested that it would save money (and be more fun for me) if they flew me to New York for the editing, and they did. I sat with the editor and a word-processor for a fortnight. We spent 90 minutes trying to translate Snakes and Ladders into a game that American kids would know about, and finally gave up. 'They’ll just have to figure it out for themselves,' she sighed.

The book is just as rich and vibrant as the movie and Smith does an amazing job of recreating Jim Henson's and Brian Froud's world into words.
— See full review here:

— Listen to podcast of A.C.H.Smith / Sam Downie 60-minute interview about novelising for Jim Henson >

Now available in hardback from, with supplementary material, including many pages of notes from Jim Henson.

Buy from Amazon | Buy from ABE Books | Back to top