Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris

Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris is the title of a Paul Gallico novel originally published in 1958. In the United Kingdom, it was published as Flowers for Mrs Harris. It was the first in a series of four books about the adventures of a London charwoman.

Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Parris
First edition cover
AuthorPaul Gallico
CountryUnited States
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardcover)
Followed byMrs. 'Arris Goes to New York 

The plot revolves around Ada Harris, who is so enchanted by her employer's couture wardrobe that she becomes determined to go to the House of Dior in Paris to purchase an evening gown of her own. She achieves her goal with the assistance of a French marquis, whom she first meets at the house of Dior during an afternoon showing and who becomes a long-term friend as do a series of other characters revealed to have hidden hearts. The comic tale takes on a final poignant overtone when the dress is loaned to an up-and-coming actress, with disastrous consequences. Initially devastated, Mrs. Harris reflects that the experiences she had in pursuit of the dress were worth its loss.

Subsequent titles in the series are Mrs. 'Arris Goes to New York (1960), Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Parliament (1965), and Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Moscow (1974). (The original U.K. titles were Mrs Harris Goes to New York, Mrs Harris MP, and Mrs Harris Goes to Moscow.)

In New York, the French Count re-appears and, again, all but one or two characters reveal hidden hearts.

In Parliament, Mrs Harris finds that being nice, kind and hopeful does not always lead to people being nice and kind in return. There is rather less comedy in this third book.

In Moscow, Mrs Harris wins a trip there and stumbles onto the Soviet Union's most embarrassing problem: it has bought a cargo of toilet paper that has had to be marked as birdseed.

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

The novel was first adapted in 1958 by Studio One theatre, in which British comedian Gracie Fields played Mrs 'Arris in an American TV production.

The West German TV film Ein Kleid von Dior with Inge Meysel was made in 1982, followed by five more TV films based on Paul Gallico's novels.

The novel was adapted for a 1992 television movie starring Angela Lansbury, Diana Rigg, and Omar Sharif. The film was produced by Lansbury's production company Corymore Productions, and directed by Lansbury's son, Anthony Shaw.

A musical-theatre adaptation, Flowers For Mrs Harris, with book by Rachel Wagstaff and music and lyrics by Richard Taylor, was produced by Sheffield Theatres in May 2016, directed by Daniel Evans, having been originally commissioned by Vicky Graham Productions. The production won three UK Theatre Awards: Best Design (Lez Brotherston), Best Performer in a Musical (Clare Burt in the titular role) and Best Musical Production. The awards were presented at the UK Theatre Awards 2016 ceremony at London's Guildhall in October 2016. A new production will be mounted at Chichester Festival Theatre in September 2018, again directed by Daniel Evans, starring Clare Burt once more as Mrs Harris, alongside Joanna Riding as Lady Dant/Madam Colbert, and Gary Wilmot as the Major/Monsieur Armand.

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