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The Nurse Matilda books were written by the British children's author Christianna Brand (1907–1988) and illustrated by her cousin, Edward Ardizzone. The books are based on stories told to the cousins by their grandfather.
They concern a hideously ugly witch known as Nurse Matilda who has been highly recommended to Mr. and Mrs. Brown as a nursemaid by several agencies. Nurse Matilda arrives at the household of the Brown family and becomes a nanny to the innumerable Brown children. The Brown children are "exceedingly naughty" and frighten off many governesses in wonderfully mischievous ways — until Nurse Matilda comes. She teaches the children to behave, and deals with the fearsome and persnickety Great Aunt Adelaide Stitch. In the end the children become good and decent, and Nurse Matilda leaves to attend another family of naughty children.
In the sequels, the children revert to their wicked ways, and the distressed Mr. and Mrs. Brown have no other choice but to send for Nurse Matilda again.
In the second book, the children are sent to live with their domineering Great Aunt Adelaide in her London manor. In the third and final book, they are whisked away to the hospital following a prank that had gone wrong.
The books were later adapted for the films Nanny McPhee (2005) and Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (2010). In the first motion picture there are only seven children, and Nurse Matilda is renamed Nanny McPhee - her first name is not mentioned.
The most significant departure from the books, however, is the absence of Mrs. Brown. In Brand's stories, Mrs. Brown is alive and well, whereas in the first film she is dead, having fallen ill after the birth of the youngest child, Agatha. Mr. Brown is forced to marry the foul Selma Quickly, a garishly clothed, thrice-widowed gold-digger, whose character did not appear in the books.
The sequel Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (2010) is loosely based on the trilogy of Nurse Matilda books. The film does not closely follow the plot of the trilogy, but several individual scenes are derived from the three books. Emma Thompson started to write the script based on Brand's books in the spring of 2007.
Although a third film was originally planned, as Emma Thompson stated previously in an interview on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, the box office returns from the second film were determined to be too low to go ahead on the third film.
- Paulette Cohn (29 December 2013). "Will There Be a 'Nanny McPhee' No. 3?". American Profile. Retrieved 7 November 2016.