Charlie Chaplin's novella is published for the first time

Charlie Chaplin's novella titled 'Footlights' centers on the same characters that were featured in his 1952 film 'Limelight.'

The Everett Collection
Charlie Chaplin appeared in films including 'The Gold Rush.'

A novella by film star Charlie Chaplin is being published for the first time.

The work by Chaplin, titled “Footlights,” is 70 pages in length and includes the same characters found in his 1952 film “Limelight.” Versions of the novella were discovered in an archive of Chaplin material that was being digitized by Italy’s Cineteca di Bologna, a movie institute.

“Footlights” is being released as part of a work titled “The World of Limelight,” written by David Robinson, a Chaplin biographer.

As in the movie “Limelight,” “Footlights” follows a clown (Chaplin) struggling in his career who aids a ballet dancer in getting her career back on track. "Limelight" is well known today as the only film in which Chaplin and actor Buster Keaton appear together. 

The novella is believed to be the only work of fiction ever penned by the actor, according to PBS.

Co-director of the Cineteca di Bologna’s Charlie Chaplin project Cecilia Cenciarelli told the Guardian there were striking similarities between the situation of the clown in the story, Calvero, and Chaplin’s career at the time.

“[The book] has shadows,” she said. “It's the story of a comedian who has lost his public, by a comedian who at that time had lost his public, who was referred to in the press of the time as a ‘former comedian,’ a ‘former successful film maker.’”

“Footlights” was launched at a Chaplin event at the British Film Institute Southbank in London earlier this week and is being published through the Cineteca di Bologna. It’s available on the museum’s website and will be available for purchase through Amazon but has not yet found a British or American publisher.

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