12 comments on “Vivien Leigh: A Biography (AND CONTEST!)

  1. This is indeed the definitive Vivien Leigh bio…Anne Edwards’s best work. I agree that her Garland biography left something to be desired!

    • True. Edwards isn’t the best biographer, as a few commenters have mentioned, but this is leaps and bounds better than the Garland bio.

  2. I had the same problem with Edwards making assumption in her biography of KH. It was really annoying, but it’s hard to fault her because her research was pretty sound… (i think).

    • I didn’t know she did a bio on KH. I wouldn’t consider her my “go-to” author for biographies (she’s no Donald Spoto), but she’s worth a look for those hoping to get earlier opinions considering several of her bios were written during the 1970s.

  3. I disagree that this is the “definitive” bio on Vivien. The problem with this book, for me (as a serious fan of Vivien’s as well as a researcher and writer), is that it is basically a novelisation of her life. It’s very romanticised. It’s probably because I come from an academic background but I find the lack of a source notes section annoying; it’s unfair to readers and I think it takes away from a book’s credibility. I know Edwards talked to people in Vivien’s life like Jack Merivale, but because of the lack of source notes, one suspects a good deal of her dialogue was fabricated.

    The big thing about this book is that it was the first to reveal that Vivien suffered from a major mental illness. It’s a an engaging read, but there has been a lot more information that has surfaced since the 1970s and I think other biographies present a more factual story.

    • Haha, I was waiting for your input, Kendra. I like that you sum this up as a “novelisation” because that’s the word I wish I had thought of. It goes back to my “assumptions” element where Edwards includes what Leigh was “supposedly” thinking during important events. Oh, the lack of source notes ALWAYS makes me suspicious. It’s the predominant reason I don’t consider Darwin Porter bios to be factual at all because there’s no bibliography.

      • Oh God yeah, Porter is the bottom of the barrel. When you’re consistently published by a company that aims to emulate Hollywood Babylon, you know you’re not writing out of respect for your subjects or readers. His book about Vivien and Larry Olivier was the worst thing

      • I haven’t read the Vivien/Larry one. I do have a few of his Hollywood Babylon books as well as his Steve McQueen bio. I will say he appears to be writing for the fans; I’ve exchanged a few emails with him and he’s a really nice guy.

      • The major problem I have with his books is that they’re a perfect example of perpetuating rumors about dead people. And of course he doesn’t include source notes for anything. My personal view is that if you can’t say where you got a piece of information, you probably shouldn’t publish it. Simply writing whatever you want to sell a few books makes it a lot more difficult for people who want to write factual biographies. Unfortunately, a lot of people believe whatever they read. :S

        Porter co-wrote the Viv and Larry book with a person called Roy Mosley, who was sort of a hanger-on in Vivien’s later years. He did know Vivien, but definitely not as well as that book suggests. Also, the other thing that really rubbed me the wrong way was that they lifted photos from my website and published them without permission, some even still had the “vivandlarry.com” tag in the corner.

  4. Pingback: Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait |

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