Why are historical figures presumed straight? Francis Lee on causing outrage with Ammonite

The Yorkshire director sparked a storm by portraying fossil-hunter Mary Anning as a lesbian.

He explains why the film, which stars Kate Winslet as the lead, is his most personal yetThe love story Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet as the 19th-century fossil-hunter and palaeontologist Mary Anning, was chosen to close last year’s London film festival, but its director, Francis Lee, has yet to see it with an audience.

“I live in Yorkshire,” he explains.

Behind him are wooden beams, a kitchen table, red and yellow tulips bursting eagerly from a vase.

“We were in local lockdown and it didn’t feel appropriate to travel when no one else could.”Ammonite certainly doesn’t need any additional controversy.

Two years ago, before Lee had even shot a page of the script, he was pilloried in the press for having portrayed Mary Anning as a lesbian without any evidence to support his conjecture.

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