Millie Bobby Brown’s debut novel is inspired by grandma’s ‘very personal’ WWII story
Actor Millie Bobby Brown is about to be a published author.
Her debut novel, the historical fiction “Nineteen Steps,” will be published Sept. 13, HarperCollins announced Friday. The book is inspired by the real-life experiences of Brown’s grandmother, who survived the Bethnal Green tube disaster in 1943, one of the greatest losses of civilian life in the U.K. during World War II.
“Inspired by my Nanny Ruth, this book is very personal and close to my heart,” the “Stranger Things” and “Enola Holmes” star said in a statement. “I grew up listening to stories about her time living through the war. I’m honored to keep her story alive.”
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The book is set in wartime Bethnal Green, an East London neighborhood, and focuses on 18-year-old Nellie Morris, an assistant at the mayor’s office who is struggling to find normalcy amid the ongoing conflict, according to HarperCollins.
Nellie meets and falls in love with Ray, an American airman stationed nearby, and begins to look forward to a new life with the soldier, beyond her neighborhood. However, her dreams are interrupted by a tragedy during an air raid.
The actual tragedy took place inside an underground train station at Bethnal Green in 1943, according to the neighborhood’s website. As people rushed into the station for shelter from an oncoming air raid, a woman carrying her baby slipped and fell near the bottom of the stairs, setting off a domino effect of people. Many became trapped amid a pile of bodies and suffocated in the narrow structure. In all, 173 people died, 62 of them children, most from asphyxiation.
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The book’s editor, Liz Stein, called “Nineteen Steps” both “heart-warming and heart-breaking.”
“I was incredibly moved by the haunting, true tragedy at the core of the novel and enchanted by the unforgettable portrait of love in the time of war,” Stein said in a statement.
Brown is preparing to film the fifth and final season of the Netflix series “Stranger Things,” which she has starred in as Eleven since 2016. Writers of the show recently denied rumors that Brown had rejected a $12-million offer to play Eleven in a “Stranger Things” spin-off show.
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In a recent interview with Parade, Brown said she and others in the “Stranger Things” cast are “ready to be able to say goodbye to those roles and thank them and be grateful for the time that I’ve had with them.”
She added that she’s “ready to move on to new projects and new roles to fulfill.” And writing a book is just one of her offscreen career aspirations.
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Brown, who is in her first year of college, taking online courses toward a human-services degree at Purdue University, also told Parade she wants to direct and produce films. She made her producing debut with the 2020 Netflix film “Enola Holmes” and directed a Samsung commercial last year.
But she also wants to check her privilege in pursuing her goals.
“You know, there are many young women like me that are in film school studying directing and I’m really aware that I have the privilege of being able to take control of the narratives that I want to put out in the world, so I definitely want to work my way to that point of success,” Brown said.
“I just want to do it in the right way that feels right to me, and be super aware that there are other young women that also deserve that opportunity.”
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