“For every man and every woman there is that one great love. A love that touches the heart, fires the soul and lingers in the memory forever.”
Nobel Prize-winning English novelist and playwright John Galsworthy (1867-1933) is now mainly remembered for The Forsyte Saga, though he also wrote a number of short stories.
One of the best known of these is The Apple Tree, written in 1916 and first published two years later in the collection Five Tales.
The Apple Tree takes its inspiration from the legend of Kitty Jay of Dartmoor‘s Jay’s Grave.
Orson Wells produced a 30-minute radio version in 1946. In the early 1970s, Peter Bogdanovich expressed an interest but was unable to obtain the rights.
However, The Apple Tree did come to the big screen in 1988 in a 95-minute movie called A Summer Story. It was directed by Pennies from Heaven’s Piers Haggard.
The plot goes like this: Set in 1904, a young London barrister Mr Ashton (James Wilby) and his best friend are walking on Dartmoor. A sprained ankle makes Ashton seek help at a farmhouse. Ashton and the naïve farm-girl Megan (Imogen Stubbs) fall in love. This upsets Megan’s aunt (Susanna York) and her son (Jerome Flynn). Ashton is sent away and ends up in Torquay, but vows to return and take Megan away with him.
In Torquay he meets an old school friend (John Elmes) and falls in love with his friend’s sister Stella (Sophie Ward) and forgets his promise to Megan. When she travels to Torquay looking for him, Ashton hides instead of facing the broken-hearted girl. Many years later Ashton returns to the scene of his short-lived summer romance…
The real Torquay had moved on from 1904, so the actual filming was undertaken in a range of more appropriate Edwardian-looking settings. It appears that Exeter, Dartmouth and Sidmouth were used.
Here’s the full movie. The Torquay episode starts 53 minutes in: