Masked : The Life of Anna Leonowens, Schoolmistress at the Court of Siam

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  • Author(s): Habegger, Alfred
  • Series:
    Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography
  • Publication Information:
    Madison, Wisconsin : University of Wisconsin Press. 2014
  • Additional Information
    • Publication Type:
      eBook.
    • Abstract:
      A brave British widow goes to Siam and—by dint of her principled and indomitable character—inspires that despotic nation to abolish slavery and absolute rule: this appealing legend first took shape after the Civil War when Anna Leonowens came to America from Bangkok and succeeded in becoming a celebrity author and lecturer. Three decades after her death, in the 1940s and 1950s, the story would be transformed into a powerful Western myth by Margaret Landon's best-selling book Anna and the King of Siam and Rodgers and Hammerstein's musical The King and I. But who was Leonowens and why did her story take hold? Although it has been known for some time that she was of Anglo-Indian parentage and that her tales about the Siamese court are unreliable, not until now, with the publication of Masked, has there been a deeply researched account of her extraordinary life. Alfred Habegger, an award-winning biographer, draws on the archives of five continents and recent Thai-language scholarship to disclose the complex person behind the mask and the troubling facts behind the myth. He also ponders the curious fit between Leonowens's compelling fabrications and the New World's innocent dreams—in particular the dream that democracy can be spread through quick and easy interventions. Exploring the full historic complexity of what it once meant to pass as white, Masked pays close attention to Leonowens's midlevel origins in British India, her education at a Bombay charity school for Eurasian children, her material and social milieu in Australia and Singapore, the stresses she endured in Bangkok as a working widow, the latent melancholy that often afflicted her, the problematic aspects of her self-invention, and the welcome she found in America, where a circle of elite New England abolitionists who knew nothing about Southeast Asia gave her their uncritical support. Her embellished story would again capture America's imagination as World War II ended and a newly interventionist United States looked toward Asia. Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians Best Regional Special Interest Boosk, selected by the Public Library Reviewers
    • Subject Terms:
    • Subject Terms:
    • Related ISBNs:
      9780299298302. 9780299298333.
    • Accession Number:
      878961415
    • Accession Number:
      777475
    • Publication Information:
      Print/Save 100 pages
      Copy/Paste Allowed
  • Citations
    • ABNT:
      HABEGGER, A. Masked : The Life of Anna Leonowens, Schoolmistress at the Court of Siam. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2014. Disponível em: . Acesso em: 19 out. 2019.
    • AMA:
      Habegger A. Masked : The Life of Anna Leonowens, Schoolmistress at the Court of Siam. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press; 2014. http://widgets.ebscohost.com/prod/customlink/proxify/proxify.php?count=1&encode=0&proxy=&find_1=&replace_1=&target=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=nlebk&AN=777475&authtype=sso&custid=s1007886. Accessed October 19, 2019.
    • APA:
      Habegger, A. (2014). Masked : The Life of Anna Leonowens, Schoolmistress at the Court of Siam. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. Retrieved from http://widgets.ebscohost.com/prod/customlink/proxify/proxify.php?count=1&encode=0&proxy=&find_1=&replace_1=&target=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=nlebk&AN=777475&authtype=sso&custid=s1007886
    • Chicago/Turabian: Author-Date:
      Habegger, Alfred. 2014. Masked : The Life of Anna Leonowens, Schoolmistress at the Court of Siam. Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. http://widgets.ebscohost.com/prod/customlink/proxify/proxify.php?count=1&encode=0&proxy=&find_1=&replace_1=&target=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=nlebk&AN=777475&authtype=sso&custid=s1007886.
    • Harvard:
      Habegger, A. (2014) Masked : The Life of Anna Leonowens, Schoolmistress at the Court of Siam. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press (Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography). Available at: http://widgets.ebscohost.com/prod/customlink/proxify/proxify.php?count=1&encode=0&proxy=&find_1=&replace_1=&target=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=nlebk&AN=777475&authtype=sso&custid=s1007886 (Accessed: 19 October 2019).
    • Harvard: Australian:
      Habegger, A 2014, Masked : The Life of Anna Leonowens, Schoolmistress at the Court of Siam, Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, Wisconsin, viewed 19 October 2019, .
    • MLA:
      Habegger, Alfred. Masked : The Life of Anna Leonowens, Schoolmistress at the Court of Siam. University of Wisconsin Press, 2014. EBSCOhost, widgets.ebscohost.com/prod/customlink/proxify/proxify.php?count=1&encode=0&proxy=&find_1=&replace_1=&target=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=nlebk&AN=777475&authtype=sso&custid=s1007886.
    • Chicago/Turabian: Humanities:
      Habegger, Alfred. Masked : The Life of Anna Leonowens, Schoolmistress at the Court of Siam. Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2014. http://widgets.ebscohost.com/prod/customlink/proxify/proxify.php?count=1&encode=0&proxy=&find_1=&replace_1=&target=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=nlebk&AN=777475&authtype=sso&custid=s1007886.
    • Vancouver/ICMJE:
      Habegger A. Masked : The Life of Anna Leonowens, Schoolmistress at the Court of Siam [Internet]. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press; 2014 [cited 2019 Oct 19]. (Wisconsin Studies in Autobiography). Available from: http://widgets.ebscohost.com/prod/customlink/proxify/proxify.php?count=1&encode=0&proxy=&find_1=&replace_1=&target=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=nlebk&AN=777475&authtype=sso&custid=s1007886

Reviews

PW Reviews 2014 June #5

Anyone who knows the musical The King and I should recognize the name Anna Leonowens, but for those who don't, literary scholar Habegger (My Wars Are Laid Away in Books) presents her story. Born in 1831 in India of mixed-race parents, Leonowens married a paymaster's clerk in the Royal Army. Widowed after 10 years and left as the sole support of her two surviving children, she opened a school in Singapore. When it failed, she accepted an offer to teach the children of Siam's King Mongkut. By the mid-20th-century, courtesy of books, a Hollywood movie, and a Broadway musical, Leonowens had become the instantly recognizable character of Anna, the genteel English schoolmistress who taught the king of Siam to dance and convinced him to free his slaves. But when she accepted that job, Leonowens invented a fictitious past that she later used in writing about those experiences. Habegger is not the first to reveal Leonowens's deception, but his investigation is the most thorough and consistently intriguing. How much of that story was true and how much was fabricated is now, thanks to Habegger's compelling narrative, much less of a puzzle. Illus. (June)

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