Belle: The True Story of Dido Belle

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William Collins, 2014 - Antislavery movements - 292 pages
3 Reviews
The inspiration behind the powerful new film starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson, this is the story of Dido Belle, whose adoption by an aristocratic family challenged the conventions of 18th century England. In one of the most famous portraits in the world, a pretty girl walks through the grounds of Kenwood House, a vision of aristocratic refinement. But the eye is drawn to the beautiful woman on her right. Pointing at her own cheek, she playfully acknowledges her remarkable position in eighteenth-century society. For Dido Belle was the illegitimate, mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy captain and a slave woman, adopted by the Earl of Mansfield. As Lord Chief Justice of England he would preside over the notorious Zong case - the drowning of 142 slaves by an unscrupulous shipping company. His ruling provided the legal underpinning to the abolition of slavery in Britain. From the privileged yet unequal lives of Dido and her cousin Elizabeth, to the horrific treatment of African slaves, Paula Byrne - the bestselling author of 'The Real Jane Austen' - vividly narrates the story of a family that defied convention, the legal trial that exposed the cruelties of slavery and the woman who challenged notions of race at the highest rank.

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User Review  - daisy_may - www.librarything.com

This is not quite what the title claims since there isn't actually very much about Dido Belle herself in it - not much is known about her - but it is an interesting look at the world in which she ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - fyrefly98 - www.librarything.com

Summary: It starts with an painting: from the late 1700s, it depicts two young women, both in fine dresses, one sitting on a bench and reaching out to hold the arm of another that's walking past ... Read full review

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About the author (2014)

Paula Byrne was born in Birkenhead. Her first book, Jane Austen and the Theatre, was shortlisted for the Theatre Book Prize. Her second book, Perdita, was a Richard and Judy book-club pick and a best-seller. Both her third, Mad World:Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead, and her most recent book, The Real Jane Austen, were published to rave reviews and became best-sellers. She is married to Jonathan Bate and lives in Oxford.

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