Maggie Smith is being lured back to the West End stage, though the project is unlikely to come to fruition until late 2010 or early 2011. According to the Daily Mail, Smith will star in The Last Duchess, a new play written by Nicholas Wright, directed by Richard Eyre and produced by Robert Fox, who also produced Smith’s last West End vehicle, Edward Albee’s The Lady from Dubuque, at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in 2007.

The Last Duchess is based on Caroline Blackwood’s 1995 book about the last days of Wallace Simpson, the American divorcee who became the Duchess of Windsor after marrying and necessitating the abdication of Edward VIII. Blackwood was originally commissioned to write an article about the Duchess, who died in 1986, for the Sunday Times in 1980. The book focuses on her attempts to organise interviews, while being obstructed by the Duchess’ lawyer Maitre Suzanne Blum, who Blackwood accused of essentially imprisoning the royal in her villa in Paris’ Bois de Boulogne.

Smith is being lined up to play Blum. Robert Fox told the Daily Mail’s Baz Bamigboye: “It could be a wonderful role for Maggie, but we are at a very early stage and we proceed cautiously.”