Working Title Films has optioned Star Of The Sea, Joseph O'Connor's best-selling novel set on a ship full of emigres fleeing the Irish potato famine.

Told through the eyes of one passenger, a New York Times reporter, the acclaimed novel charts the fortunes of an array of characters on board the Star Of The Sea, which is heading for America in 1847. During the 26-day journey, passengers in steerage die of starvation and disease, while the first class is riddled with adultery and incest.

"Working Title have taken up the book with great enthusiasm and are in advanced discussions with a director," said Conrad Williams, O'Connor's film and TV agent at Blake Friedmann Literary Agency.

The book has so far been sold to fourteen publishers around the world.