Emma Thompson Pens Sequel to Peter Rabbit, and Others Revive Pooh, Bond and Corleones

Emma Thompson writes a sequel to ‘Peter Rabbit’; others extend the lives of Pooh, Dracula and Bourne.



Beatrix Potter's 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit'

Emma Thompson has finished starring in several Harry Potter movies—now she will move on to Beatrix. To commemorate the 110th anniversary of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Potter’s estate has authorized the Oscar-winning actress and screenwriter to write the first new story since 1930—The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit will be published next year, the 24th in the series. "I've always loved Beatrix Potter, as a child and then as a mother and all the years in-between as well,” Thompson said of the project. "When Mr. Rabbit invited me to write a further tale, I was more honored than I can say. I hope I don't let him or his extraordinary creator down."

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Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone With the Wind'

As novelists go, Margaret Mitchell was perhaps the greatest one-hit wonder in literary history. Her only novel, Gone With the Wind, was a massive bestseller, won the 1937 Pulitzer Prize, and was adapted two years later into the highest-grossing movie of all time. But before publishing a second book, Mitchell was killed after being hit by a car in Atlanta. In the early '90s, her estate authorized a sequel to Gone With the Wind, a decision that was widely damned. Written by Alexandra Ripley, Scarlett was panned by the critics, but it became a bestseller anyway. A second authorized sequel, Rhett Butler’s People by Donald McCaig, was published in 2007, which Stephen L. Carter called a “fine novel” in his New York Times review: “After finishing Rhett Butler’s People, it may be impossible to read Gone With the Wind in quite the same way.”

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Ian Fleming's 'James Bond'

Like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Ian Fleming created a British hero who will live forever in readers’ imaginations and through other writers’ stories—Bond, James Bond. After Fleming’s death in 1964, his estate authorized Kingsley Amis (writing as Robert Markham) to write a new 007 novel, Colonel Sun. John Gardner resumed the series in 1981 with License Renewed and continued until his last Bond book in 1996, when Raymond Benson took over the Bond novels (the first American to do so) until 2003. To commemorate Fleming’s 100th birthday, the estate authorized novelist Sebastian Faulks to write a new Bond book, Devil May Care, and this past summer Jeffrey Deaver published Carte Blanche, which recast Bond as the present-day spy and became a bestseller.

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A.A. Milne’s 'Winnie the Pooh'

At the end of A.A. Milne’s final Winnie-the-Pooh book, 1928’s The House at Pooh Corner, Christopher Robin is heading off to school when he turns to his beloved bear and pleads,  "Pooh, promise you won't forget about me, ever. Not even when I'm a hundred." More than 80 years later, Christopher finally came back—in an authorized sequel, Return to the Hundred Acre Wood, by David Benedictus. “What I had to do was to imagine myself to be Milne,” the author told NPR. And the best way to do that was to visit the Ashdown Forest, which was where he lived and was the basis for the Hundred Acre Wood, and to read everything by and about him. When I'd read all that, I felt I could become him." Benedictus’s book also introduced a new cherished character to the Pooh-niverse: Lottie the Otter.

Mario Puzo’s 'The Godfather'

Though Mario Puzo published his own follow-up to his 1969 bestseller, The Godfather—1983’sThe Sicilian—the novel did not center on the Corleone family. But in 2004, Random House published an authorized sequel by Mark Winegardner, The Godfather Returns which chronicled the seven years after the original novel ended and also tells the backstory of Michael Corleone’s service in World War II.  Because of the success of The Godfather Returns, two years later the publisher made Winegardner an offer he couldn’t refuse—another sequel, The Godfather’s Revenge.

Douglas Adams’s 'Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy'

Only in the twisted universe of Douglas Adams’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy would the sixth book in a trilogy make perfect sense. And in 2009, eight years after Adams’s untimely death, Arthur Dent and friends returned for a sequel authorized by Adams’s widow. Written by Eoin Colfer, creator of the Artemis Fowl series, And Another Thing… was initially met with skepticism when it was announced, but received excellent reviews. “It's clear this is a triumph,” Euan Ferguson wrote in his Guardian review “Colfer has pulled off the near-impossible. It's faithful to Adams's humor and, more important, it's also got his rhythm, the cadences and the footfalls that made his style so often (badly) imitated.”

Daphne du Maurier's 'Rebecca'

Though Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 Oscar-winning film has arguably eclipsed the novel, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca  was a bestseller when it was published in 1938 and established the author as one of the most popular writers of her day. (This in spite of allegations that she had plagiarized the story from a Brazilian novelist—to say nothing of Jane Eyre.) In 1993, the du Maurier estate authorized the publication of a sequel—Mrs. de Winter  by Susan Hill—which was widely disliked. However, another officially approved sequel, 2001’s Rebecca’s Tale by Sally Beauman, captured the spirit of the original novel. “This lushly imagined sequel, which cleverly reproduces the cadences of du Maurier's prose, resurrects Manderley without sweeping away all the artful old cobwebs,” Publisher’s Weekly wrote. “Readers should pounce.”

J.M. Barrie’s 'Peter and Wendy'

The story of Peter Pan has been continued so many times—as an animated  Disney film (Return to Never Land), as a Steven Spielberg movie (Hook), and by novelists Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (Peter and the Starcatchers)—but there is only one official sequel. In 2004, the Great Ormond Street Hospital, which inherited the rights to J.M. Barrie’s classic character, held a competition to select a writer for a new Peter Pan story. British children’s novelist Geraldine McCaughrean was selected, and in 2006 she published Peter Pan in Scarlet  in which Wendy and the Lost Boys have grown up—and Captain Hook lives.

Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne

Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne movies don’t always follow the source material—Robert Ludlum’s mega-bestselling trilogy—but that hasn’t stopped them from becoming blockbusters in their own right. And just as Damon will finally step down as Bourne, the novels were inherited by a new author, Eric Van Lustbader, following Ludlum’s death in 2001. To date, there have been six new Bourne novels—including The Bourne Legacy , which will be adapted as a film in 2012 starring Jeremy Renner.

Bram Stoker’s 'Dracula'

Sure, Dracula was stabbed in the heart with a Bowie knife at the end of Bram Stoker’s classic 1897 novel, but why should death slow down of the most famous characters in literary history? In 2009, Dacre Stoker (Bram’s great-grandnephew) and Ian Holt published an official sequel, Dracula: The Un-Dead  in which the Count returns to seek vengeance on the men who killed him and keep his bloodline alive. And perhaps to remind those Twi-hards how a real vampire does it.