Having watched the movie which is sure to take home most of this year’s Academy Awards — watched it twice, and loved it — I was glad to know there was an accompanying book. This isn’t the usual case of a book coming out first and then someone turning it into a move, though — the two are separate, though parallel and related. An informative interview with the film’s scriptwriter tells a little bit about how it all happened, and explains some of the differences between the two.
The King’s Speech, the book, is co-written by Mark Logue, grandson of the movie’s hero Lionel Logue, speech therapist to King George VI. The connection to Mark Logue and access to his grandfather’s private papers occurred only after the movie project was well underway. It’s obvious in reading the book that the conflict and antagonism between the two main characters was “punched up” a bit to create more big-screen drama (as is so often the case) — and it’s clear, in reading the interview with screenwriter David Seidler linked above, that in writing the scenes of the King’s speech therapy sessions with Logue, Seidler was drawing as much on his own experience as a stutterer, as on anything actually known about the relationship between Lionel Logue and George VI. In fact, when Logue’s papers were made available to the filmmakers, Seidler’s main reaction seems to have been relief that he hadn’t gotten anything too horribly wrong.
While the relationship between the two men may not have been as dramatic and conflicted as the movie portrays, it was certainly just as important and interesting, and the book gives lots of insight into both men and the world they lived in, as well as an interesting perspective on the early days of what we now call speech therapy. The King’s Speech is not nearly as great a book, as a book, as the movie is for a movie, and without the film’s success the book, if it got written at all, might be of only passing importance. But if you’ve seen the movie, enjoyed it, and want to know more about the real story in the background of the award-winning film, you’ll almost certainly enjoy the book, as I did.