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Vivien Leigh: an intimate portrait by Kendra Bean

The centenary of Vivien Leigh’s birth was celebrated in 2013 by Kendra Bean’s very beautiful Vivien Leigh: an intimate portrait. This coffee table style book certainly is a portrait as it is beautifully illustrated with many previously unseen photographs.

Fans of classic movies will not be disappointed.

Despite being best known for her portrayals of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind and the tragic Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire, Leigh had a long career on the stage often alongside her husband of twenty years, Laurence Olivier. As her career was propelled forward by her beauty, Leigh worked with steely determination to prove herself as an actress, sacrificing her marriage and child to attain her two interrelated goals – her stage and screen career and her marriage to Olivier. Leigh’s short life was marred by health problems – psychiatric problems which were to end her career and marriage and the tb which would ultimately lead to her death at the age of 53.

Although balanced and forthright, Vivien Leigh: an intimate portrait is not an indepth biography. For a more detailed biographical approach and another perspective you may wish to consider   Olivier: the authorised biography by Terry Coleman.

“Complex and tormented by his own ruthless genius and everlasting guilt, Laurence Olivier was a clergyman’s son who became a matinee idol. Considered a great Shakespearean actor, he married the turbulent Vivien Leigh and together they became the royal family of the British stage. When he left her after 20 years, he was tortured by a sense of sin that only heroic and incessant work could expiate and he became a founding director of the National Theatre. Though stricken with illness in his later years, he continued to act until his death.”  publisher

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