The year is 1850, the place the fashionable Washington Square area of New York. Catherine Sloper, a shy unsophisticated young woman stands to inherit a considerable fortune from her father, the highly regarded Dr Austin Sloper. Austin grieves for Catherine’s beautiful mother who died giving birth to her and the nervous, socially awkward Catherine is a constant disappointment to him.
Dr Sloper’s constant criticism of Catherine’s pathetic attempts to please him, and the interventions of her frivolous Aunt Penniman create a tense and dull household. When Catherine is courted by the handsome and charming Morris Townsend, it is as if a light has come on, but Dr Sloper forbids the marriage, denouncing Townsend as a fortune hunter. A thrilling drama ensues as the carefully constructed plot draws to its unexpected climax.
A costume drama by Ruth and Augustus Goetz, adapted from the acclaimed Henry James novel Washington Square, The Heiress has always been a crowd pleaser and in 1949 William Wyler made it into a classic film starring Olivia De Havilland and Montgomery Clift.