Source: larry-411 on Flickr. License: CC BY-SA 2.0
Source: larry-411 on Flickr. License: CC BY-SA 2.0

Dakota Fanning has been cast to play main character Esther Greenwood in an upcoming film adaptation of Sylvia Plath’s 1963 novel The Bell Jar. The film will also mark actor Kirsten Dunst’s directorial debut.

The novel takes place in the 1950s and focuses on Esther Greenwood (Fanning’s character), a New Englander who is among a group of girls who wins an essay contest hosted by a popular fashion magazine. Their prize is an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City for a month where they will have jobs and be lavished with things like theater and ballet tickets, free cosmetics, and other perks.

When Esther returns to New England following the trip, however, she begins to sink into a deep depression, which the novel chronicles.

By many accounts, the novel is a somewhat fictionalized version of a year in author Sylvia Plath’s own life. Apart from her poetry, The Bell Jar is the only novel that Plath ever wrote.

According to an article on Deadline, Dunst co-wrote the screenplay with Nellie Kim. Dunst previously directed two shorts that played at film festivals, but this will be her feature directorial debut (source).

Fanning has some experience working on film adaptations of novels with other actors in their directorial debuts. She recently worked alongside Uzo Aduba and Jennifer Connelly on American Pastoral. Adapted from the novel by Philip Roth, American Pastoral is actor Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut. It is set to be released in late October 2016.

While there is no release date for Kirsten Dunst’s The Bell Jar yet, production is expected to begin in early 2017.