Charles Webb and the sequel to The Graduate

Thoughtcat regulars may have read in The Times or other papers recently that Charles Webb, the author of The Graduate, the original novel on which the classic Dustin Hoffman film was based, is some £30,000 in debt, behind with his rent and in such financial dire straits that he and his wife have been threatened with eviction from their East Sussex home. Webb, who sold the rights to The Graduate for a one-off payment of $20,000 (the film went on to make over $100m), has been writing regularly, and has completed a sequel to The Graduate called Home School – but his wife had a nervous breakdown a few years ago and instead of devoting his spare time to finding a publisher he’s been looking after her instead. As if all this wasn’t sad enough, The Times also reported that Webb doesn’t own the rights to the characters in The Graduate for film adaptation purposes, so actually hasn’t wanted to publish Home School for fear of a vastly inferior movie being made by Canal+, the French network which now owns the rights. There is, however, a way out – but (you’ve guessed it!) it costs money. Under French law, it turns out, artists are not able to cede rights to sequels, so if Webb had the cash he could pay French lawyers to make the case to Canal+ and retrieve his film rights. In almost any other situation a publisher would help him negotiate the return of the rights as part of a book deal, in which everyone – not least fans of The Graduate – wins. Webb however seems stuck.

I’ve just received a Google news alert that The News and Star, rather than the Times itself, so annoyingly I missed the actual printed version.) There’s also a fascinating