The Buccaneers Book Ending Took Over 50 Years To Complete

Author Edith Wharton passed away before finishing the novel.

Alisha Boe (Conchita), Josie Totah (Mabel), Kristine Froseth (Nan), Aubri Ibrag (Lizzy), and Imogen ...
Apple TV+

Based on the 1938 novel by Edith Wharton, Apple TV+’s The Buccaneers centers on the titular daughters of America’s new rich during the Gilded Age. These “beautiful and untameable” young women travel to London to find aristocratic husbands who are “low in funds but high in class.” Created by Katherine Jakeways, the series is only inspired by Wharton’s work, rather than a direct adaptation.

That’s partly because Wharton never finished the book before she passed away in 1937. The Buccaneers was published posthumously — without an ending — including only the author’s outline of how she intended to wrap the plot. More than 50 years later, Marion Mainwaring penned an ending for the book, based on Wharton’s notes. However, Jakeways used only the original, incomplete version when crafting the Apple TV+ period drama.

Even though the series deviates from the source material and could continue for subsequent seasons, here’s a quick summary of Wharton’s final novel.

A Period Romance

Set in the 1870s, Wharton’s The Buccaneers is about five wealthy American teens denied entry into New York society because their parents’ money is too new, per the publisher’s synopsis. Those young women (aka “buccaneers”) are Nan St. George (played by Kristine Froseth), Jinny St. George (Imogen Waterhouse), Conchita Closson (Alisha Boe), Mabel Elmsworth (Josie Totah), and Lizzy Elmsworth (Aubri Ibrag).

Apple TV+

At the suggestion of their governess, Miss Laura Testvalley (Simone Kirby), the ladies travel to London, where they marry lords, earls, and dukes who find their beauty charming — and their wealth extremely useful.

Though protagonist Nan, who’s more interested in love than status, falls for sensitive English nobleman Guy Thwarte (Matthew Broome), their budding romance is thwarted when he departs for family business in South America. In the interim, she marries Ushant, the Duke of Tintagel (aka Theo, played by Guy Remmers), resulting in a mutually unhappy marriage.

By the novel’s end, Nan’s marriage has crumbled, and Miss Testvalley helps her escape the duke and reunite with her true love, Guy, with whom she runs away to Greece. To do so, however, Nan’s former governess must sacrifice her new romance with Guy’s father.

Apple TV+

A Modern Spin

As Jakeways explained to Screen Rant, she used the novel “as a starting point” for the Apple TV+ adaptation and expanded the characters, while also staying true to the way Wharton wrote them. Meanwhile, EP Beth Willis noted it was also “time for a refresh” on the 1938 source material.

“In 2023, you want to retain all of the things that make period drama delicious; the costumes, the locations, and the romances. But also to infuse it with characters that feel a bit more rounded, a bit more truthful, and a bit more, as Katherine says, like our lives and our friendships reflected back at us,” Willis added, referencing a larger love story beyond Nan and Guy.

She continued, “I hope that by doing that, what we’ve done is got an absolute period drama show with all of the ingredients that we love, but also crucially for us, a show that has female friendship at the absolute heart of the show and the biggest love story of all, we hope, is that one between the girls.”