Is The English’s Cornelia Locke Based on a Real Woman?

Image Credit: Diego Lopez Calvin/Drama Republic/BBC/Amazon Studios

Prime Video’s ‘The English’ follows the story of a woman named Cornelia who travels all the way from England to America to exact revenge for the death of her son. In the beginning, she is presented as a naive person who doesn’t yet understand the ways of the new country and its people. Soon, however, she grasps the severity of her surroundings and adapts better than most people would. She reveals herself to be a survivor who has long forgone her fear of death. Such tenacity and strength of her character make us wonder if she is based on a real person. Is Cornelia Locke based on or inspired by a real-life historical figure? Let’s find out.

Was Cornelia Locke a Real Woman?

No, the character of Cornelia Locke in ‘The English’ is not based on any specific person. It was originally created by writer-director Hugo Blick. A fan of the Western genre, Blick grew up watching the likes of Jimmy Stewart, Clint Eastwood, and Paul Newman embarking on dangerous quests in sweltering and dusty locations. When the time came to write a story of his own making, Blick decided to do something new with it. Instead of putting just another white man in the protagonist’s chair, he explored a new direction that the story could take when followed from the perspective of a woman.

Image Credit: Diego Lopez Calvin/Drama Republic/BBC/Amazon Studios

For actress and executive producer Emily Blunt, who brings Cornelia alive on the screen, ‘The English’ is a modern story, as opposed to the old-fashioned and monotone nature of Westerns in general. She approached the character similarly. “I approached her in quite a modern way. She just happened to be in a corset or wear a bonnet for some of it,” she said. Blunt also confessed that she didn’t particularly base the portrayal of her character on any real-life personality. “I read some books on the time period that Hugo recommended. But I found the script to be so alive, and it was a script that really kind of kidnapped us, so I didn’t tend to base her on another figure in history or some other character from another movie,” she added.

While Cornelia might not be inspired by a real person, Blunt asserted that her character is grounded in reality and is someone that people can relate to, especially with the struggles in her life. “This is a story about identity, about reclaiming that for yourself. It’s about self-discovery, and I think everybody can identify with that. A lot of people have been through something traumatic, and valiantly stepped forward, and I think people will see themselves in these characters,” saidA Quiet Place’ star.

The relatability of Cornelia also lies in how she is introduced as a fish out of the water, who immediately captures the empathy of the viewers. In showcasing her journey, a more visual approach was taken by the filmmakers, where we see her dress going from pink to red to violet. “ [They are] like the bruising of her journey that she goes on, that’s symbolized in what she wears. Even though the journey is something that frays her physically, she emotionally grows so much, and it’s like an awakening for her. It’s an awakening of who she is,” Blunt added. Considering everything, it is fair to say that while Cornelia is a completely fictional character, there are aspects of her life that many people might find relatable.

Read More: Where and When Does The English Take Place?