PBS' 'Masterpiece' to adapt Elizabeth Gilbert's 'Signature of All Things'

PBS' 'Masterpiece' to adapt Elizabeth Gilbert's 'Signature of All Things'
PBS' "Masterpiece" has optioned Elizabeth Gilbert's novel "The Signature of All Things." (Jennifer Schatten)

PBS' "Masterpiece" announced Tuesday that it has optioned Elizabeth Gilbert's novel "The Signature of All Things" for a television adaptation. 

The 2013 bestseller follows Alma Whitaker, a botanist living in the 19th century. Described as "equal parts Elizabeth Bennet and Charles Darwin," Alma is a brilliant scientist who struggles to fulfill her intellectual ambitions in an era of severely limited roles for women. The novel trots across the globe, with settings including Philadelphia, Tahiti, London and Peru.

"When I read 'The Signature of All Things' I saw that it had everything we look for in a 'Masterpiece': an appealing, complicated central character whose life is changed, emotionally and physically, in a rich story told by a masterful writer," said executive producer Rebecca Eaton.

Gilbert is best known for her blockbuster memoir "Eat Pray Love," which followed her globe-trotting spiritual journey after a painful divorce. It was adapted into a feature film released in 2010 starring Julia Roberts and directed by Ryan Murphy. "The Signature of All Things" is her sixth book and second novel. 

Emily Ballou has been tapped to adapt "The Signature of All Things" for the small screen. Ballou's television credits include the original Australian version of "The Slap" and the detective series "Scott & Bailey." Also an acclaimed poet, Ballou wrote a verse portrait of Charles Darwin called "The Darwin Poems."

Produced by WGBH Boston, "Masterpiece" is the top-rated prime-time series on PBS, where it has aired weekly since 1971. Recent "Masterpiece" titles include ratings smash "Downton Abbey," the Hilary Mantel adaptation "Wolf Hall" and the "Pride and Prejudice"-inspired whodunnit "Death Comes to Pemberley."

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