LONDON — Alison Owen and Debra Hayward’s newly formed Monumental Pictures has acquired the film rights to Caitlin Moran’s novel “How to Build a Girl.”

The novel, which has sold more than half a million copies in more than 16 countries, charts the journey of teenager Johanna Morrigan, who reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde: fast-talking, lady sex-adventurer, moves to London, and gets a job as music critic in the hope of saving her poverty stricken family in Wolverhampton.

Moran and John Niven are adapting the book. The project is backed by Film4.

Hayward commented: “Caitlin Moran is the wittiest writer on the planet and her creation, Johanna Morrigan stands alongside Elizabeth Bennet and Bridget Jones as one of the great female literary icons.

The pic acts as a mission statement for the company, said Owen.
“We want to make commercial movies and television with strong female characters,” she said.

The company is also producing “Little Women,” a 13-part series for ABC, which will star Natasha McElhone, as previously announced.

Jordan Roberts, whose credits include “Big Hero 6” and “March of the Penguins,” will pen the screenplay for “Little Women.”

Owen will produce, while McElhone executive produces alongside Essential Media’s Simonne Overend and Julie Anne Robinson’s Canny Lad Productions.

Owen’s credits including “Saving Mr Banks,” “The Other Boleyn Girl,” “Jane Eyre,” “Temple Grandin,” and “Small Island.” She is in post-production on “Tulip Fever” for The Weinstein Company and “Suffragette” for Pathé.

Hayward produced “Les Miserables” with Cameron MacIntosh Limited and Working Title Films. Prior to that, she was a creative driving force behind U.K. production company Working Title Films.