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Mr. Turner | A Film By Mike Leigh | Timothy Spall

A Sony Pictures Classics Release




MR. TURNER explores the last quarter century of the life of J.M.W. Turner (1775-1851), the singleminded artist who worked hard and travelled extensively.

Turner is profoundly affected by the death of his ex-barber father, he takes up with a widow, Mrs. Booth, a seaside landlady, and is plagued occasionally by an ex-lover, Sarah Danby, by whom he has two illegitimate adult daughters, whose existence he invariably denies.

He enjoys the hospitality of the landed aristocracy, he visits a brothel, he is fascinated by science, photography and railways, he is a popular if anarchic member of the Royal Academy of Arts, and he has himself tied to the mast of a ship in bad weather in order to paint a snowstorm.

He is celebrated by some, and reviled by others. He refuses an offer of £100,000 from a millionaire who wants to buy all his work, preferring to bequeath it to the British nation, whereas Queen Victoria loathes his work.

Throughout the story he is loved by his stoical housekeeper, Hannah, whom he takes for granted and whom he occasionally exploits sexually.

Eventually, he leads a double existence, living incognito with Mrs. Booth in Chelsea, where he dies. Hannah is unaware of this until the very end.

Mike Leigh

Director's Statement

Back at the turn of the century, when 'Topsy-Turvy' was released, I wrote that it was "a film about all of us who suffer and strain to make other people laugh."

Now I have again turned the camera round on ourselves, we who try to be artists, with all the struggles our calling demands. But making people laugh, hard as it is, is one thing; moving them to experience the profound, the sublime, the spiritual, the epic beauty and the terrifying drama of what it means to be alive on our planet – well, that's altogether something else, and few of us ever achieve it, much as we may try.

Turner achieved all of it, of course. He was a giant among artists, single-minded and uncompromising, extraordinarily prolific, revolutionary in his approach, consummate at his craft, clairvoyant in his vision.

Yet Turner the man was eccentric, anarchic, vulnerable, imperfect, erratic and sometimes uncouth. He could be selfish and disingenuous, mean yet generous, and he was capable of great passion and poetry.

MR. TURNER is about the tensions and contrasts between this very mortal man and his timeless work, between his fragility and his strength. It is also an attempt to evoke the dramatic changes in his world over the last quarter century of his life.

— Mike Leigh


Timothy Spall

Timothy Spall

MR. TURNER is Timothy Spall's fifth film with Mike Leigh, following roles in 'Life is Sweet', 'Secrets and Lies', 'Topsy-Turvy' and 'All or Nothing'. These collaborations brought him several nominations – for Best Actor at British Independent Film Awards and Best Actor at European Film Awards for 'All or Nothing', Best Supporting Actor at BAFTA and Best British Actor In A Supporting Role at the London Film Critics' Circle Awards for 'Topsy-Turvy', and Best British Actor at the London Film Critics' Circle Awards and Best Actor at BAFTA for 'Secrets and Lies'.

The actor also collaborated with Leigh on the made-for-television film 'Home Sweet Home' and the stage play 'Smelling a Rat'. Spall is probably best known to international audiences for his role as Peter Pettigrew in the Harry Potter film series, and has also been seen as Winston Churchill in the 'The King's Speech', Peter Taylor in 'The Damned United', Beadle Bamford in 'Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street', his own television documentary 'Timothy Spall: Somewhere at Sea', and, most recently, 'The Blandings'. Timothy received an OBE in 1999.

Dorothy Atkinson

Dorothy Atkinson

MR. TURNER is Dorothy Atkinson's third film with Mike Leigh, following 'All or Nothing' and 'Topsy Turvy'. Her other film roles include 'Chatroom', 'Look at Me I'm Beautiful', and 'The Final Curtain'. Television credits include 'Call the Midwife', 'Tubby and Enid', 'The Town', 'Coronation Street', 'Phone Shop', 'Midsomer Murders', 'Victoria Wood Christmas Special', 'Peep Show', 'Housewife 49', and 'Bodies'.

Theatre credits include: Beryl in 'Brief Encounter' for Kneehigh (including 2014 US tour), 'A Matter of Life and Death' at the National Theatre, 'Beauty and the Beast' at the Royal Shakespeare Company and 'Epitaph for George Dillon' at the Comedy Theatre, London.

Marion Bailey

Marion Bailey

Marion Bailey first worked with Mike Leigh on his 1981 play 'Goose-Pimples' at Hampstead Theatre and then in London's West End. She played Auntie Barbara in 'Meantime', Carol in 'All or Nothing' and Mrs Fowler in 'Vera Drake'. In 2012 she appeared in his play 'Grief' at the National Theatre.

She has made numerous appearances at London's leading theatres, including the National Theatre, the Royal Court, the Old Vic, Hampstead Theatre, The Bush and The Tricycle. She recently appeared in Nick Payne's 'Blurred Lines' at the National Theatre, directed by Carrie Cracknell and Moira Buffini's 'Handbagged', directed by Indhu Rubasingham, which transferred into the West End from the Tricycle Theatre.

Her extensive television work includes recent roles in 'Case Histories', 'Him and Her', 'Being Human', 'New Tricks', 'Persuasion' and 'Midsomer Murders'.

Paul Jesson

Paul Jesson

Paul Jesson appeared in Mike Leigh's 'Vera Drake' and 'All Or Nothing', on stage in 'Goose-Pimples' and made a fleeting appearance in 'Home Sweet Home'. Other film roles include 'Coriolanus' and 'The Ploughman's Lunch'. On television he has been seen recently in 'Margaret: Her Downfall', 'The Devil's Whore' and 'Rome'.

He won Outstanding Performance of the Year in a Supporting Role at the 1986 Olivier Awards for 'The Normal Heart' and has made many appearances at the National Theatre and with the Royal Shakespeare Company, including Gooper in 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof', Lovberg in 'Hedda Gabler', Lord Burleigh in 'Mary Stuart', Ulysses in 'Troilus and Cressida', Prospero in 'The Tempest' and the title role in 'Henry VIII'. He has worked with the eminent German director Peter Stein as Sorin in 'The Seagull' and Pandarus in 'Troilus and Cressida'. He appeared in Mike Bartlett's Olivier Award winning play 'Cock' and in Sam Mendes' productions of 'The Winter's Tale' as Camillo and 'The Cherry Orchard' as Gayev in both New York and London. Again at the Donmar and in New York he played Gloucester to Derek Jacobi's King Lear and Sir Toby Belch in Sam Mendes' production of 'Twelfth Night'. His most recent appearance has been as Cardinal Wolsey in 'Wolf Hall' and 'Bring Up the Bodies' with the RSC in Stratford and in London.

Lesley Manville

Lesley Manville

Mike Leigh's most frequent actor collaborator, Lesley Manville has worked with the director on 'Secrets and Lies', 'High Hopes', 'Topsy-Turvy', 'All or Nothing', 'Vera Drake', 'Another Year', the BBC film 'Grown-Ups', a radio play and on stage in 'Grief' at the National Theatre. Her other screen credits include Carlo Carlei's 'Romeo and Juliet', Robert Zemeckis's 'A Christmas Carol', the upcoming 'Theory Of Everything', 'Molly Moon: The Incredible Hypnotist' and the Disney feature, 'Maleficent'.

Her film collaborations with Mike Leigh have brought Lesley many awards and nominations.

For 'Another Year' these included: National Board of Review - won Best Actress, London Critics' Circle Awards – won British Actress of the Year, European Film Awards – nominated for Best Actress, BAFTA Film Awards – nominated for Best Supporting Actress, San Diego Film Critics' Society Awards – won Best Supporting Actress, British Independent Film Awards – nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Santa Barbara International Film Festival – won Virtuoso Award.

For 'All or Nothing' she won British Actress of the Year from the London Critics' Circle Film Awards and was nominated for Best Actress in the Evening Standard British Film Awards. For 'Topsy-Turvy, she was nominated for British Supporting Actress of the Year in the London Critics' Circle Film Awards.

On stage she appeared in the original productions of the modern classics 'Top Girls', 'Serious Money' and 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses', as well as the highly acclaimed revivals of Edward Bond's 'Saved' and 'The Pope's Wedding'. In the last few years, Lesley has worked extensively at the National Theatre appearing in 'His Dark Materials', 'Pillars of the Community', 'The Alchemist' and 'Her Naked Skin' and recently at the Old Vic Theatre in 'All About My Mother' and 'Six Degrees of Separation'. She was most recently seen at the Almeida Theatre and in London's West End as Mrs Alving in Richard Eyre's acclaimed production of Ibsen's 'Ghosts', for which she won the Olivier Award and London Critics' Circle award as Best Actress.

Her frequent television work includes Alan Clarke's much acclaimed 'The Firm', and the highly successful series 'Cranford', 'Holding On', 'Other Peoples Children', 'Bodily Harm', 'Real Women', 'The Cazalets', and 'North And South'.

Martin Savage

Martin Savage

Martin Savage made his film debut as the comedian George Grossmith in Mike Leigh's 'Topsy-Turvy'. He was also seen as a taxi-passenger in 'All or Nothing', as one of the arresting police officers, DS Vickers, in 'Vera Drake', and as Jim Broadbent's volatile nephew Carl in 'Another Year'. His other film credits include 'The Tailor of Panama', and 'V for Vendetta'. He has appeared in numerous television series, with a regular role in both series of Ricky Gervais's 'Extras' and a guest lead role in 'The Thick of It Special' for Armando Ianucci. His stage appearances include 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' for the Royal Shakespeare Company, in which he played Peter Quince, 'Faustus' for director Rupert Goold, and, most recently Victoria Wood's 'That Day We Sang' at the Manchester International Festival.

Joshua McGuire

Joshua McGuire

Joshua McGuire is one of the only featured actors in MR. TURNER to be working with Mike Leigh for the first time. He was recently seen in Richard Curtis's 'About Time', and following MR. TURNER, filmed roles in Kenneth Branagh's 'Cinderella' and Chris Smith's 'Get Santa'. Television work includes Siblings', 'You, Me & Them', 'A Young Doctor's Notebook' and the second series of 'The Hour'.

On stage, Joshua had a leading role in the recent National Theatre production of Pinero's 'The Magistrate' and was also seen in the Royal Court and West End productions of 'Posh'. In spring 2014 he appeared in the lead role in James Graham's new play 'Privacy' at the Donmar Warehouse.

Ruth Sheen

Ruth Sheen

MR. TURNER marks Ruth Sheen's sixth collaboration with Mike Leigh. In 1989, she was named European Actress of the Year as Shirley in 'High Hopes' (opposite 'Vera Drake' co-star Phil Davis), and in 1993 she appeared at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in his play, 'It's A Great Big Shame!' Most recently, she played Gerri in 'Another Year', Maureen in 'All or Nothing', and Lily, the black marketer, in 'Vera Drake'. Other film work includes 'Virtual Sexuality', 'The Young Poisoner's Handbook', 'Little Dorrit', 'Vanity Fair', 'Run Fat Boy Run', 'Heartless' and 'Welcome to the Punch'.

On television she has been seen in numerous plays and series including 'Holding On' and 'Never Never', both written by Tony Marchant, 'Bramwell', 'Cracker', 'Tom Jones', 'Fanny Hill', 'Misfits', 'Poirot', 'The Mimic' series one and two and 'The Accused', written by Jimmy McGovern. On stage, she has recently worked at the National Theatre in 'Blurred Lines', the Royal Court Theatre in 'In Basildon', and was also seen at the Royal Court in 'Stoning Mary', at the National Theatre in 'Market Boy', and at the Soho Theatre in 'An Oak Tree' and 'Leaves of Glass'.

David Horovitch

David Horovitch

David Horovitch previously worked with Mike Leigh in the National Theatre production of 'Grief' alongside Lesley Manville and Marion Bailey. His film credits include Jean Marc Vallée's 'Young Victoria', Woody Allen's 'Cassandra's Dream', Kevin Lima's '102 Dalmatians' and the Oscar® nominated 'Solomon and Gaenor' directed by Paul Morrison. Television credits include 'Midsomer Murders', 'Foyle's War' and 'Great Expectations', and series regular Inspector Slack in 'Miss Marple'.

David's numerous stage appearances include 'Hysteria' directed by Terry Johnson at Bath Theatre Royal and Hampstead Theatre, 'Mary Stuart' directed by Phyllida Lloyd at the Donmar Warehouse and in the West End, 'When We Are Married' directed by Chris Luscombe, 'Bedroom Farce' directed by Sir Peter Hall, and 'Taking Sides and Collaboration' directed by Philip Franks, which originated at Chichester Festival Theatre.

Karl Johnson

Karl Johnson

MR. TURNER marks Karl Johnson's first film with Mike Leigh. His other film appearances include Derek Jarman's 'Jubilee' and 'The Tempest', John Maybury's 'Love is the Devil', Terence Davies' 'The Deep Blue Sea', Edgar Wright's 'Hot Fuzz', Neil Burger's 'The Illusionist' and, mostly recently, 'The Sea' and 'Good Vibrations'.

Karl is best known for his role as series regular Twister in 'Lark Rise To Candleford'. Some of his other extensive television work includes 'Born and Bred', 'Rome', 'Rules of Engagement', 'A Tale of Two Cities', 'David Copperfield', 'The Chatterley Affair', 'Small Island', 'Modern Men' and 'Merlin'. Most recently, he appeared in 'Call the Midwife' and 'Atlantis', both for the BBC.

His theatre credits include regular appearances at the National Theatre and the Royal Court. He has most recently been seen on stage in 'Barking in Essex', 'Noises Off' at the Old Vic and its West End transfer, and at the National Theatre in Danny Boyle's 'Frankenstein'.


Georgina Lowe

Georgina Lowe (Producer) produced Mike Leigh's 'Another Year', for which they were BAFTA nominated for Outstanding British Film in 2011, and also the Cultural Olympiad-commissioned 'A Running Jump'. She was previously Co-Producer/Line-Producer on 'Topsy-Turvy', 'All or Nothing', 'Vera Drake' and 'Happy-Go-Lucky', and has worked on all of Mike's films since 'Naked'.

Her extensive Producer credits for television include 'Mad Dogs' for Sky1, 'Eternal Law', 'Kingdom' and 'The Mayor of Casterbridge' for ITV1 and two Sarah Waters adaptations for the BBC, 'Tipping the Velvet' and 'Fingersmith', the latter of which earned her a BAFTA nomination.

Dick Pope

Dick Pope (Cinematographer) has worked with Mike Leigh on 'Life is Sweet', 'Naked', 'Secrets and Lies', 'Career Girls', 'Topsy-Turvy', 'All or Nothing', 'Vera Drake', 'Happy-Go-Lucky', 'Another Year', 'A Running Jump' and his television short, 'A Sense of History'. At Camerimage (the International Festival of the Art of Cinematography) Pope has twice won the main prize, once in 1996 for his work on 'Secrets and Lies', and again in 2004 for 'Vera Drake'. In 2000 at the same festival, he and Mike Leigh won for best director/cinematographer collaboration. His other feature film credits include 'The Illusionist', for which he received an Oscar® nomination amongst other citations, Barry Levinson's 'Man of the Year', John Sayles' 'Honeydripper', Christopher McQuarrie's 'The Way of The Gun', Gurinder Chadha's 'Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging', Richard Linklater's 'Me and Orson Welles' and 'Bernie', James Griffiths' 'Cuban Fury', Jill Sprecher's 'Thin Ice' and, most recently, 'Angelica' by Mitchell Lichtenstein.

Jon Gregory A.C.E.

Jon Gregory (Editor) has worked with Mike Leigh on 'A Running Jump', 'Another Year', 'Secrets and Lies', 'Naked', 'Life is Sweet', 'High Hopes', 'The Short and Curlies', and 'A Sense of History'. For director John Hillcoat, he cut 'The Road' and also the critically acclaimed 'The Proposition' in 2005. For Mike Newell, Gregory served as editor on 'Four Weddings and a Funeral', 'Donnie Brasco', 'Pushing Tin' and 'An Awfully Big Adventure'. More recently Gregory cut 'Hysteria' for Tanya Wexler. Gregory received BAFTA nominations for 'Four Weddings and a Funeral', the television series 'Traffik', and 'In Bruges'.

Jacqueline Durran

MR. TURNER is Jacqueline Durran's (Costume Designer) sixth film project with Mike Leigh. Previous titles include 'Another Year', 'Happy-Go-Lucky', 'All or Nothing', which was her first film as a costume designer, and 'Vera Drake' for which she won a BAFTA. She recently won an Oscar® and BAFTA for her work on Joe Wright's 'Anna Karenina' and had previously been Oscar® and BAFTA nominated for 'Pride and Prejudice' and 'Atonement' which were also directed by Wright. Earlier, she worked for several years with costume designer Lindy Hemming, assisting her on Mike Leigh's 'Topsy-Turvy' for which Hemming won an Oscar®. Other film projects include David Mackenzie's 'Young Adam', Tomas Alfredson's 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy', Richard Ayoade's 'The Double' and most recently Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth'.

Gary Yershon

MR. TURNER is Gary Yershon's (Composer) seventh collaboration with Mike Leigh. He was musical director for 'Topsy-Turvy', composed the music for 'Two Thousand Years' and 'Grief' at the National Theatre, and wrote the scores for 'Happy-Go-Lucky', 'Another Year' (which brought him a nomination for Best Composer at the 2010 European Film Awards) and 'A Running Jump'.

Gary has been writing music for drama for nearly four decades. Recent theatre work includes 'The Roaring Girl' at the Royal Shakespeare Company, 'Edward II' at the National Theatre, 'Julius Caesar' at the Donmar Warehouse and St Ann's Warehouse (Brooklyn), 'The Low Road' at the Royal Court, and 'The Turn of the Screw' at the Almeida. He has contributed to numerous West End/Broadway successes, notably Yazmina Reza's plays 'Art', 'The Unexpected Man', 'Life x 3' and 'The God of Carnage'. His score for Matthew Warchus's revival of 'The Norman Conquests' earned him a 2009 Drama Desk nomination.

His many scores for BBC radio include 'Three Men in A Boat', 'Gawain and the Green Knight' and 'Troilus and Criseyde' for Radio 4, 'The Theban Plays' and 'The Winter's Tale' for Radio 3, and the Sony Award-winning dramas 'Lorelei' and 'Autumn Journal'. His TV work includes three cartoon series, 'Skin Deep', and Lynda La Plante's 'Trial and Retribution IX and X'. Gary also works as a writer, translator and teacher. He is an Associate Artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Christine Blundell

MR. TURNER marks Christine Blundell's (Make-Up & Hair Designer) eleventh collaboration with Mike Leigh following 'Life is Sweet', 'Naked', 'Secrets and Lies', 'Career Girls', 'Topsy-Turvy', for which she won an Oscar® and a BAFTA for Best Make-up, 'All or Nothing', 'Vera Drake', for which she received a BAFTA nomination, 'Happy-Go-Lucky', 'Another Year' and 'A Running Jump'.

Her other credits include 'Sherlock Holmes', 'The Boat That Rocked' (aka 'Pirate Radio'), 'Eastern Promises' on which she was Personal Make-up Artists to Naomi Watts, 'And When Did You Last See Your Father', 'Sunshine', 'Casino Royale' (hairdressing supervisor), 'Closer', on which she was Personal Make-up Artist to Natalie Portman, 'Finding Neverland', for which she was BAFTA nominated, and 'The Constant Gardener'. She most recently worked on William Monahan's 'London Boulevard', John Landis's 'Burke and Hare', Danny Boyle's 'Trance', Richard Curtis's 'About Time', Bill Condon's 'The Fifth Estate' and Matthew Vaughn's 'The Secret Service'.

Suzie Davies

MR. TURNER marks Suzie Davies' (Production Designer) second collaboration with Mike Leigh, following the short film 'A Running Jump'. Her other credits as production designer include the television dramas 'Christopher and His Kind', 'The Children', 'Murder on the Homefront', 'Mad Dogs' and 'Lip Service'. Her work as Art Director includes 'The Long Firm', 'Fingersmith', 'Tipping the Velvet' and 'The Young Visiters'.

Jacqueline Riding

Jacqueline Riding MA PhD (Research) is an art historian, historical consultant and author specialising in Georgian and Early Victorian Britain. As a consultant she has worked for Tate Britain, Tate Modern, the National Trust, Historic Royal Palaces and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Before becoming a consultant she was a curator at the Theatre Museum (Victoria and Albert Museum), the Guards Regimental Museum, Tate, Assistant Curator of the Palace of Westminster and Director of the Handel House Museum. Her publications include 'Houses of Parliament: History, Art, Architecture' (2000) and 'Mid-Georgian Britain' (2010). Jacqueline's forthcoming book for Bloomsbury Publishing is a narrative history of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion (2015).

Nina Gold

MR. TURNER is Nina Gold's (Casting) eighth collaboration with Mike Leigh following 'Topsy-Turvy', 'All or Nothing', 'Vera Drake', ' Happy-Go-Lucky', 'Another Year', 'A Running Jump' and the revival of his play 'Ecstasy' at Hampstead Theatre. She is also known for her work on 'Rush', 'The King's Speech', 'Les Miserables', 'Bright Star', 'Hot Fuzz', the miniseries 'John Adams', for which she won an Emmy for Outstanding Contribution to Casting, and the television series 'Game Of Thrones' for which she has received three Emmy nominations.

Historical Background

J.M.W. Turner

Boats, ships, the river and the sea defined Turner's earliest experience. Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) was born and raised by the busy River Thames in Central London. He was sent at the age of 10 to stay with relatives at Brentford, also on the Thames, and then went away to school on the Kent coast at Margate, where he loved the light and to which he returned frequently throughout his life. His father sold the boy's work in his barber shop, and he was accepted at the Royal Academy Schools at 14, his interview panel being chaired by Sir Joshua Reynolds, who encouraged him. He worked for several architects, expecting at first to follow that line, and at 15 exhibited his first watercolour at the Royal Academy, 'A View of the Archbishop's Palace at Lambeth'. He was elected an Associate Member of the Academy at 24 and a full Academician at 27. The Academy dominated the rest of his life and he was Professor of Perspective for thirty years. Throughout his life, Turner travelled widely in the British Isles and in Europe, including to Venice, which greatly inspired him. Celebrated by many, reviled by some, his output was prodigious. Twenty thousand of his pieces are in the Tate collection alone. Turner never married, but co-habited with Sarah Danby, the mother of his illegitimate daughters, and later with Sophia Booth in Margate and Chelsea. Hannah Danby was his housekeeper for over forty years. He is buried in St Paul's Cathedral next to Sir Joshua Reynolds.

To learn more about J.M.W. Turner:

The Official Site for J.M.W. Turner
The Tate Organization
Encyclopedia Britannica

William Turner Senior

William Turner (1745-1829), wig-maker and barber, a native of Devon, came to London and set up shop in Covent Garden. His wife ended her days in a lunatic asylum. Two children: the painter and his younger sister, who died aged five. On retirement served as Turner's assistant.

Hannah Danby

A niece of Sarah Danby (see below), Hannah Danby (1786-1853) was Turner's faithful housekeeper for over forty years. She died two years after Turner.

Sophia Booth

Sophia Booth (1798-1875) was Turner's landlady in Margate, and then his mistress and companion from the mid-1830s. Twice widowed, she had a son by her first marriage. She eventually sold her Margate boarding house and moved with Turner to Chelsea.

John Booth

A mariner, he married Sophia about 1825, probably at Dover. Their Margate boarding house commanded great sea views.

Sarah Danby

Sarah Danby (1760/1766-1861) was Turner's first mistress, and the mother of his two illegitimate daughters. As the widow of an organist and composer, she received a monthly pension from the Royal Society of Musicians, which she collected from an office in Leicester Fields (now Leicester Square).

Evelina Dupuis

Evelina Dupuis (1801-1874) was the elder illegitimate daughter of Sarah Danby and Turner. Her first three children died in infancy, baby Rosalie Adelaide thus being Turner's "only surviving grandchild", although two others came later.

Georgiana Thompson

Georgiana Thompson (1811-1843) was Sarah Danby and Turner's second illegitimate daughter. She died in childbirth, having married three years earlier.

Mary Somerville

A Scotswoman, Mary Somerville (1780-1872) was a self-taught mathematician. The daughter of a Vice Admiral, she was widowed with two sons at 27. This liberated her to study, both her father and her husband having banned her from doing so. Her more enlightened second husband, an army doctor, was physician to the Royal Chelsea Hospital for Veterans. They had two daughters, and Mary embarked on a long life of study and educational causes. Her first publication concerned the magnetising power of sunlight. Her experiments with the needle and the spectrum led her to deduce that the violet element had magnetising properties, a conclusion she later realised was incorrect. But its publication had established her reputation. In later life she was an ardent supporter of women's suffrage. Somerville College, Oxford, is named after her.

Benjamin Robert Haydon

Benjamin Robert Haydon (1786-1846), a native of Plymouth, eschewed portrait painting, which was commercial, aspiring instead to paint edifying historical and biblical subjects, which weren't. Truculent, contentious, emotional, perpetually impecunious, he was prone to alienating most people, not least in the Royal Academy, to which he never succeeded in being elected. He and his wife suffered several infant mortalities. He committed suicide.

George Jones

George Jones (1786-1869), Royal Academician, painter and army officer. After the RA schools, he enlisted, fought in the Peninsular War, and was an officer in the occupation of Paris in 1815. Said to resemble the Duke of Wellington, a comparison he relished, he painted battle scenes, and was later Librarian and Acting President of the RA. A close friend of Turner and an executor of his will.

John Carew

John Edward Carew (1785-1868), Irish sculptor. Lord Egremont of Petworth being his main patron, Carew moved early to Brighton, using Petworth's chapel as his studio. He exhibited at the RA, but was never elected a member. The south-facing relief at the bottom of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square is his work.

Sir William Beechey

Sir William Beechey (1753-1839), from Oxfordshire. Royal portrait painter, much admired by George III and Queen Charlotte.

C.R. Leslie

Charles Robert Leslie (1794-1859). Originally English, he spent his formative years in Philadelphia. Returned to RA Schools in London, becoming a successful painter. A close friend of both Turner and Constable. His 'memoirs' have been a useful research resource for the film.

David Roberts

David Roberts (1796-1864), Scottish landscape painter and Royal Academician. Began by painting theatre sets with Clarkson Stanfield (see below), with whom he became close friends, moving to London with him. Roberts was the first British artist to travel extensively in Spain, Egypt and the Holy Land.

Clarkson Stanfield

Clarkson Stanfield (1793-1867), from Sunderland, son of an actor. Marine painter. Ran away to sea, was pressed into the Royal Navy and served under Jane Austen's brother. After theatrical scenepainting, moved to London with Roberts. Royal Academician. A great admirer of Turner.

Sir John Soane

Sir John Soane (1753-1837), architect, Royal Academician. From Reading, the son of a bricklayer. Designed the Bank of England. Intimate friend of Turner.

Sir Martin Archer Shee

Sir Martin Archer Shee (1769-1850), a Dubliner. Portrait painter. Elected to the Royal Academy, due more to his political than his artistic skills. President for many years, defending the Academy against a hostile Parliamentary enquiry. Escorted the young Queen Victoria during her private view of the Summer Exhibition in 1845.

Sir Charles Eastlake

Sir Charles Eastlake (1793-1865), from Plymouth, the son of a judge. Taught by Haydon. At 22, painted a very successful portrait of the captured Napoleon on board HMS Bellerophon. This was sold for one thousand guineas, enabling him to travel to Italy, where he remained for fourteen years. Turner stayed with him in Rome and painted in his studio. Royal Academician, Secretary of the Fine Art Commission, tasked with the decoration of the Houses of Parliament at Westminster. President of the RA. First Director of the new National Gallery.

Sir Augustus Wall Callcott

Sir Augustus Wall Callcott (1779-1844), landscape painter and Royal Academician. Close friend of Turner. A consummate courtier and Surveyor of the Queen's Pictures.

Thomas Stothard

Thomas Stothard (1755-1834), Londoner, son of an innkeeper. Royal Academician, sitting on the Governing Council and teaching in the RA Schools, where he had studied. RA Librarian for over twenty years. A great admirer of Turner, Stothard regularly attended his Perspective Lectures with his ear trumpet.

John Constable

John Constable (1776-1837). England's other great landscape painter, some suggest. From Suffolk, his area of which became known as 'Constable Country' during his lifetime. Elected to the RA late. Not close to Turner, once famously describing him as "uncouth, but has a wonderful range of mind".

Lord Egremont

George O'Brien Wyndham, third Earl of Egremont (1751-1837), was a major patron of contemporary British art and an agriculturalist. He encouraged artists to visit his Sussex estate at Petworth to study the fine collection of Old Master paintings and derive inspiration from the gardens and parkland. Turner was a regular visitor and produced many evocative drawings and watercolours of life at Petworth. Among the many works Egremont purchased or commissioned from Turner are the four paintings depicting various schemes or landscapes associated with the Earl, including the Brighton Chain Pier and Chichester Canal which still hang in the magnificent Carved Room at Petworth House.

John Ruskin

John Ruskin (1819-1900). Art critic, artist and social commentator. From London, only son of a sherry importer and his evangelical Anglican wife. The intellectual and emotional product of contrasting parents. Educated at home, was isolated and intense. Family often travelled abroad, taking in architecture and art. At 27, defended Turner against harsh critics, and later wrote a full defence of Turner's art in his book 'Modern Painters'. Turner had an ambivalent attitude towards this young, earnest and self-appointed champion. Ruskin's marriage to Effie Gray in 1848 was famously an unmitigated disaster.

Dr. Price

Dr David Price (?-1870), son of a clergyman. Trained at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospitals in London. Prominent physician in Margate, where he moved for health reasons. Attended Turner for many years.

J.J.E. Mayall

John Jabez Edwin Mayall (1813-1901). Originated from Lancashire. After some years in Philadelphia as a photographer and daguerreotype specialist, he returned to England, setting up a studio in London's Strand. He was always taken to be an American. When he photographed Queen Victoria, she described him in her journal as "the oddest man I ever saw". Turner was fascinated by the new photography, and visited him on several occasions. No photographs of Turner have survived.

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria (1819-1901) was an accomplished amateur artist, enjoying her annual visits to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions. Her taste veered towards the realistic and sentimental. A particular favourite was the animal painter and sculptor, Sir Edwin Landseer (see the four lions surrounding Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square.) She loathed Turner's work and to this day there are no Turners in the Royal Collection.

Joseph Gillott

Joseph Gillott (1799-1872), the son of a workman in the cutlery trade. From Sheffield, Yorkshire. Steel pen maker and art patron. Patented and manufactured the Gillott pen nib in Birmingham. World famous, they are still in existence today. In the scene where Gillott offers to buy Turner's entire collection, Mike Leigh has combined two anecdotes. Gillott did apparently offer to show Turner his "pictures" – the £5 notes – but it was actually another wealthy collector who wanted to buy everything for £100,000.