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The English Governess and the Siamese Court

Anna Leonowens

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ISBN 10: 0812570626 / ISBN 13: 9780812570625
Published by Tor Books, New York, NY, 1999
Used Condition: Very Good Soft cover
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The author's memoir of her six years as a governess in the Royal Palace of Bangkok which was the inspiration for The King and I. Wear at edges, reading creases, lightly rubbed. Size: 4 1/8" x 6 3/4". Bookseller Inventory # 007803

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The English Governess and the Siamese Court

Publisher: Tor Books, New York, NY

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Soft Cover

Illustrator: Cover Illustrated By Jim Carroll

Book Condition:Very Good

Edition: First Edition


About this title


Anna Leonownes' memoir of her six year as a governess in the Royal Palace of Bangkok was the inspiration for the beloved Broadway musical The king and I, as well as two award-winning films. First published in 1870, Leonowens' memoir is the true story of a proper English governess who is hired by the King of Siam to tutor his many children. A delightful portrait of an unlikely friendship between two headstrong personalities, it is also a revealing peak at two very different cultures.

About the Author:

Anna Harriette Leonowens (1831–1915) was a teacher of Anglo-Indian background who became famous as a travel writer, educator, and social activist. She worked in Siam from 1862 to 1868, where she taught the wives and children of Mongkut, king of Siam. Leonowens's experiences in Siam were fictionalised in Margaret Landon's 1944 bestselling novel Anna and the King of Siam and in various films and television miniseries based on the book, most notably Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1951 hit musical The King and I. In 1862, Leonowens accepted an offer made by the Siamese consul in Singapore, Tan Kim Ching, to teach the wives and children of Mongkut, king of Siam. The king wished to give his 39 wives and concubines and 82 children a modern Western education on scientific secular lines, which earlier missionaries' wives had not provided. Leonowens sent her daughter Avis to school in England, and took her son Louis with her to Bangkok. She served at court until 1867, a period of nearly six years, first as a teacher and later as language secretary for the king. Although her position carried great respect and even a degree of political influence, she did not find the terms and conditions of her employment to her satisfaction, and came to be regarded by the king himself as a 'difficult woman and more difficult than generality'. In 1868, Leonowens was on leave for her health in England and had been negotiating a return to the court on better terms when Mongkut fell ill and died. The king mentioned Leonowens and her son in his will, though they did not receive the legacy. The new monarch, fifteen-year-old Chulalongkorn, who succeeded his father, wrote Leonowens a warm letter of thanks for her services. He did not invite her to resume her post but they corresponded amicably for many years. By 1869, Leonowens began contributing travel articles to a Boston journal, Atlantic Monthly, including 'The Favorite of the Harem', reviewed by the New York Times as 'an Eastern love story, having apparently a strong basis of truth'. She expanded her articles into two volumes of memoirs, beginning with The English Governess at the Siamese Court (1870), which earned her immediate fame but also brought charges of sensationalism. In her writing, she casts a critical eye over court life; the account is not always a flattering one, and has become the subject of controversy in Thailand; she has also been accused of exaggerating her influence with the king.

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