Written by Anthony Shaffer and Robin Hardy AFTER the movie came out.

(Originaly posted by me to the Yahoo group on Oct 9, 2010. Revised 5/14/14. Only some of the page numbers have been corrected. I have the correct page numbers for the ebook. Write to me (wikilipwak) c/o of the Facebook Wicker Man (1973) page....)

page x (the intro by Allan Brown) In 1977 a pair of New Orleans "cineastes" discovers the film. I wish more could be done with this info. I went to college there and graduated in 1976 and visited in 1977. I know there is the footage of Sterling Smith talking about it on cable tv then but nothing has become of this connection. (And then there's the version that has two dental students at Tulane being the backers. Well, Tulane has never had a dental school so maybe it was LSU, etc, etc. Lots of murk here.)

xii Howie is Episcopal. (I was too.) Interesting as Scotland is overwhelmingly Presbyterian... Brown describes him as a "pious, ramrod straight cipher..." Never heard anyone called a cipher before. Had to look that one up. defines it as "a person of no influence; nonentity."

pg 5 Howie's frequent smile... We don't see that in the movie.

pg 10 Shaffer describes the 'fluttering body of the eagle... clearly dead'. If it was dead, how could it be fluttering? (OK, the wind could be fluttering its feathers.)

pg 28 pub closing. An old man is playing the piano and singing, The Hole In The Elephant's Bottom. (A music hall song;

pg 39 May keeps a sweet shop. So why was it changed to the post office in the movie?

pg 41 Contents of the sweet shop included: sugar babies, gobstoppers, bullseyes. See also the extensive list here. (link to come)

pg 58 Shaffer refers to Susanna and the peeping elders... a biblical story.(

pg 46 Howie hears Ride a Cock-horse to Banbury Cross as he goes for a walk and discovers the orgy. I looked this rhyme up and can find no sexual connotations to it but that's ok. (It does have the lines, Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes… and the women in the orgy are wearing bells on their toes…) More than you want to know about this song here:

pg 61 As I have noticed in the film, all the woman are on top in the orgy scene. Nothing is made of this in the book or elsewhere. What does this mean?

pg 63 Shaffer refers to a poem by Francis Thompson, The Hound of Heaven ( . As Howie leaves the orgy scene, he remembers for some reason, "those 'insistent feet' with which the 'hound of heaven' followed the poet 'down the labyrinthine ways'." I'm not sure why Shaffer brings that up. Yes, the women have bells on their toes...

pg 65 The woman on the grave is "planting a little sapling in the earth between her thighs.' All we see in the movie is a woman crying on a grave that, according to the book, doesn't have a headstone, which it does in the movie (in the short version only). A fascinating tidbit about an otherwise inexplicable scene.

pg 67 When Howie arrives back at the Inn, they are quiet rather than boisterous as they are in the movie. One of many changes between book and movie. Apparently, it is as if they are expecting him in the book.

pg 70 Lord Summerisle is a Morrison! So he could be related to May, Rowan and Myrtle...

pg 74, The Walt Whitman quote, I think I could turn and live with animals (From Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself, pt 32 but edited), instead of being read by Lord Summerisle outside, appears as a text (a scroll) on Howie's bedside table much like a Gideon bible, Howie thinks.

(pg 78-9 - not sure where now…) Good dialogue on tomorrow's tomorrow.

pg 80. The song sung by the May Pole starts out as "In Summerisle's wood..." whereas in the movie it is just "In the wood...." It was probably easier not to sing it that way...

pg 86 lists what is written on the blackboard, which we only see partially as Howie erases it. It is:

The Cock-Knee stone preserves the pith of the milk.

The Snail Stone preserves the eyes from the darkness.

The Toad Stone preserves the newly born from the weird woman.

The hag Stone preserves people from nightmares. (singular in book, plurar for

the movie...)

(Each stone is capitalized in the book, all are uppercase in the movie...)

pg 93 It's a "natal string" tied to the tree; not a navel string, just in case you were wondering. I wasn't sure myself.

pg 94 Howie "reverently clears" the alter whereas in the movie he brusquely shoves things aside.

pg 95 Howie realizes the Harvest pic was taken at the church when he is at the church.

pg 96 -7 Some good discussion on the Hand of Glory.

pg 99 Howie has a sweet tooth. Items in the sweet shop window are further described including a marzipan sugar baby and sherbet-filled liquorice skuttles. What's a skuttle? (Google doesn’t know.)

pg 100 Inside, we hear about: barley sugar maypoles, mint bullseyes and mullberry gobstoppers. I've had caramel bullseyes! Love em! Gobstoppers are what we call jawbreakers in the US.

pg 78-81 Mr Lennox, the chemist/photographer, has in his shop: omen sticks and strips of witches mummy. I have listed more here. Oh, and foreskins when burnt are said to make it rain.

pg 100 Rowan was born on 4/1 whereas in the movie it was 11/13/60. (We see that, briefly, when Howie opens Miss Rose's desk at school and goes through the student register.) I'm not sure what year the book is supposed to take place. She's 13 in the book. In the book Howie gets this info from McTaggert over the radio.

pg 113-4 Howie goes to the library on April 30th in the book and instead of seeing an old woman as he does in the movie, there's an old man there.

The Gillie plays a major role in the book and in this case it is a woman, not a boy. We see a credit for a Gillie in the movie credits but nothing exists of her/him in the movie. (And Broome, who escorts Howie in to see Summerisle, is Summerisle's piper, not his butler, in the book. The butler had the day off!)

pg 119 Howie goes to a "Mistletoe Wood" . I won't go into the plot differences here.

pg 120 Howie gets a boner watching the fire dance due to "the old Adam" in him and most men. "These were the most sexually arousing images he'd ever seen." As he leaves, he reluctantly looks away, "He was pleased that his reluctance was due now to more a sadness at leaving the extraordinary beauty and innocence of the scene, rather than to unrequited lust." An interesting take on the scene.

pg 126 Howie is a "convinced socialist".

pg 128 Lord Summerisle gets to wear sneakers, American sneakers, at home! I thought this was just some comic relied that Christoher Lee decided to wear on his own. The description of him as the Betty/Teaser (in the procession) is EXACTLY what we see in the movie, long black hair and shoddy dress.

pg 162 Miss Rose dressed in what looked like "gossamer cheesecloth," !

pg 169 in Lennox's shop: fillets of fenny snakes...

pg 170 Howie looks at other picture folders in the darkroom. We see these briefly in the movie. The book describes them as:

"He selected one labelled 'Divination' and opened it. Inside was a number of photographs in folders. The first was labelled 'The Blade Bone of the Black Pig (Slinneineachd)' and contained a photograph of a crowd of islanders standing in a circle round Lord Summerisle, who was minutely scrutinizing the bone of an animal.

The second was labelled 'Omen Stones (Cot Coetn)' and showed half a dozen people throwing white round stones into the embers of a fire.

The third was labeled 'The Seer in the Bull (Taghairm)' and had a colourful picture of a man wrapped in the hide of a bull being rocked by others on the bank of a pool.

The fourth was labelled 'The Elucidator (Peithyrnen)' and contained a number of photographs that showed Lord Summerisle manipulating a machine consisting of several staves on which judicial maxims had been cut. (When turned the staves apparently spelled out messages of three or four lines.)

The fifth was labelled 'The Living and the Dead Graves' and showed a woman wrapped in a blanket and lying on the ground between two holes. One had a sign by it reading 'Living Grave'; the other read 'Dead Grave.' A small circle of people looked on with concern."

Comparing that to what we see in the movie, I'd say we get to see pics 1, 2, 3 and 5. If there was a #4, it flashes by too quickly to see it. Oh and for #3, it looks an awfully lot like Robin Hardy in that tarp in the movie...

Now you know what they were! I had guessed earlier, and can't find my notes now, but I'm pretty sure I was nowhere near what they turned out to be.

pg 171 Daisy, not Rowan, is the Harvest pic in the book! And with life imitating art, it is Daisy who actually has her picture taken as the May Queen. Rowan’s head was “Photoshopped” onto it!

pg 174 -5 Howie intellectualizes the morality of sexual attraction.. ('Keeping (him)self pure' for the right girl...)

(pg 177  - who knows what page this is really on….) An interesting description of Willow nude.

pg 177 Slightly different words for Willow's song. This looks like Who's the Fool Now aka Martin Said to His Man, a song Morris dancers like to sing, at least the beginning does. (So, there's another Morris reference! See my iist of “Things Morris in The WIcker Man” posted here) - page to come

pg 178 In the movie Howie's body is anointed right before he is led to the Wicker Man. In the book, he gets a little preparation ahead of time by having oil of sunflower seed and essence of heather by his bed the night before. That might be Willow prettying him up before she seduces him but perhaps it is also to prep for his date with the Wicker Man, so to speak?

pg 188 Howie dreams of Lars Porsena and "By the Nine Gods He Swore..." , having wondered what was going to happen to him. I don't get it. One of a few too many literary references for me...(The other major one being The Hound of Heaven reference.) More on that here: Too long to read…

pg 208 We get to see Lord Summerisle wearing "American style sneakers" as the preparations for the procession begin. The description of his overall garb is what we see in the move to a T.

pg 234-5 We get a description of two bodies in the undertaker's shop. Howie realizes that the one that has its hand cut off had this done AFTER death. What we see in the movie seems to be the reverse, cut off before death, as there is blood all over the bandaged stump. Maybe I'm wrong.

pg 235 The only name brand (of whiskey or all products?) is Summerisle's Inheritance? (I thought other name brands were seen in the stores earlier... This might be referring to just the whiskey.)

pg 236-8 A bomber flies over the island, having been diverted by the police who haven't heard from Howie. As it leaves, one of its crew thinks they see a "huge man" on a cliff but he isn't sure... (Nothing of this is in the movie but it would have been a nice touch.)

pg 239 Turns out the Hand of Glory was from the old man who Howie saw in the library, the day before...

pg 243 They play Hunt The Squirrel, a Morris dance tune, as the music for the procession. (More Morris content! Too bad it didn't make it to the movie...) Here’s a nice version of the tune which is also an English Country Dance tune:

pg 243 The book suggests that a bird's eye view of the procession would show lots of activity. It would be cool to see it! The book describes people in the procession going in and out of houses!

pg 245 Lord Summerisle is described as looking like "Pocahontas's Aunt in a rage." lol! That's sort of what he looked like throughout the procession/as a Betty now that you mention it!

pg 246 Oak was chosen to be the Hobby (horse) by virtue of the "grossness of his kidney-wiper". (Size of his penis. you know, hung like a horse... I presume that is the meaning of grossness Mr Shaffer intended.)

pg 246 Hares bound out of the way of the procession. That would have been a nice touch to include in the movie. Maybe next time...

pg 246 In the procession, the boar was Dr Ewan, the red fox, Mr Lennox. I haven't tried to figure out/list who's who in that scene in the movie but I suppose I could.

pg 247 Lord Summerisle approaches the sacred circle (the stonehenge, before the Chop Chop sequence) with a sickle in one hand and mistletoe in the other.

Mistletoe also figures prominently in other parts of the book. (OK, it’s mistletoe. I was wondering about that on another list, in the procession scene.)

pg 251 Howie is a worry wort.

pg 253 Lord Summerisle, Miss Rose and Dr Ewan rush toward the decapitated figure. Not sure who does that in the movie.

pg 253 Holly is the girl who fell out of the cupboard. (I'm not sure that is the case in the movie. I think it's another girl.)

pg 255 Shoney is the god of the sea, "Hail, Shoney" is what they are saying as they roll the beer barrels into the sea.

pg 260 Thousands of bats get worked up by the torches in the cave. We miss this in the movie. There is also lots more that happens in there than what we see in the movie.

pg 261 Howie and Rowan come out of the cave through the "Womb of the White Goddess" (aka witches cauldron…).  Apparently only women know about that part of the cave.

pg 262 Men are abit squeamish about revisiting the womb, the book has Rowan saying. I thought in contrast, what is that quote? "Men spend the rest of their lives trying to get back in", referring to sex.

pg 263 The lines, "We seem to have lost our torch-bearing friends." and "I'm sorry. It was worse than I remembered it." are reversed in the book.

pg 263 Lord Summerisle gets to say the line, "Born again, eh, Howie?" after he (they) comes out of the Womb of the White Goddess. Touche!

pg 265 "What do you mean? What game? Which game?" changes to "Game? What game?" in the movie.

pg 271 In the book when Sleep, Close and Fast is said, there is silence and then it is time to keep the appointment. In the movie, we get a little more between those two moments.

pg 278 Lord Summerisle does an incantation to Nuada.

"Nuada, Great God of the Sun 

Hear Summerisle! 

Giver of all life

Ender of night 

Accept this our anointed King

Our sacrifice. 

Give us music, love

Health, crops and joy. 

Nuada, make our island fruit!"

We don't get that in the movie.

pg 279 Howie's recitation that goes "It is the lord who has laid waste your orchards...." is biblical, Joel 1:7. It is implied that it relates to Sodom and Gomorroh.

pg 281 Howie is reminded of Triumph of the Will, Leni Riefenstahl's movie which "chronicles", to use Wikipedia's word, the rally at Nuremberg while he watches the villagers as they sing Sumer Is Icumen In.

pg 282 and 283. He shouts Amen and Jesus, the last as he frees some birds from the burning Wicker Man.

pg 284-4 According to Robin Hardy elsewhere, the monologue Howie recites, "Let me not undergo the pains of hell, because I die unshriven..." is based on Sir Walter Raleigh's last words but I can't confirm this on the internet.

Overall, it is wonderful to read what is going on in Howie's mind, much moreso than what we find out in the movie. There is much that could have appeared in the movie that as far we know, didn't and some scenes that were shot (Howie going through the clothes upstairs at May Morrison's and visiting Mrs Grimmond) that do not appear in the book.

John L


Here is a rough list of the scenes in the book. Compare that to the movie. (I know I left out some stuff but I don't want to go back and read the whole book again.)

Sat, 4/28

St Ninan's Island - Howie and Mary watch eagles

ferry to mainland

Mary's house

Sun, 4/29


flies to Summerisle

harbor master

May Morrison's

walks around

goes to inn, meets Willow, has dinner

walks after, sees orgy

back to the inn, goes to bed, Lord Summerisle presents Ash

Mon, 4/30

wakes up,

Willow washes tables outside

goes to Maypole then schoolhouse then graves then church with woman w/ egg then

graveyard (?)


May Morrison's

Mr Lennox

Dr Ewan

kids - we carry death out of the village, by stream

to plane to use radio

kids - we carry death out, we carry summer in

library - to look up metamorphosis

yard outside Green Man - Alder McGreggor and Gillie to make appt to see Lord

Summerisle (?)

women walking through orchard

mistletoe wood

fire dancers


Lord Summerisle's castle

leave castle with Gillie, go through mistletoe woods

Beech, Gillie's brother gets fed

digs up Rowan's grave

search for Dr Ewan's motorcycle

Lord Summerisle's castle with hare (Rowan)

back to chemist to find pic

midnight/next day/May Day



wakes up

goes to Green, borrows motorcycle again

rides to sacred grove

back to room at inn by 6:30 am

Willow visits - wish you'd come by last night

leaves inn, runs into Miss Rose on High St who explains May Day - using the

lines we hear as Howie reads about it in the library in the movie.

goes to seaplane via harbormaster, it doesn't work

back to town, near the inn then to the festivities

searches the houses (remove your masks, hairdressers, baa baa black sheep, naked

fat lady re-written to be Ingrid Pitt in movie, girl falls out of closet, old

ladies with priapric chair, then to the baker, butcher and fishmonger. No visit

to the boat like in movie although it gets featured earlier in the book.)


eats lunch from 'cockles, muscles, alive, alive oh' girl, visits carpenter,


in undertaker's shop finds two old men dead (both with apples in their mouths!

Nothing behind pennies in his eyes.)

back to inn, rests, Hand of Glory, assaults McGreggor, wears Punch costume


the rest as in the movie