Anna And The King Of Siam
1958 Panther paperback.
This "magnificent spectacle" with "matchless pageantry" and "frequent moments of high comedy," (Hollywood Reporter) stars Rex Harrison as the King of Siam and Irene Dunne as Anna, the charming, strong-willed English widow who teaches him how to live in a modern world. Accompanied by her son, Anna Owens arrives in Siam to educate the king's harem and his sixty-seven children.
The author is Anna Leonowens, the lovely English governess to the children of the King of Siam whose story is immortalized, highly romanticized, in the Rogers & Hammerstein musical "The King and I" (1951). "Truth is often stranger than fiction," writes Leonowens. Fiction based on fact, embellished to fascinate the reader and get the point across, is perhaps a more precise description of all the gruesome torture and persecutions of the ladies of the harem by the King who was a Buddhist monk and abbot for 26 years before ascending to the throne.
Anna Leonowens, a proper Englishwoman, was an unlikely candidate to change the course of Siamese (Thai) history. A young widow and mother, her services were engaged in the 1860's by King Mongkut of Siam to help him communicate with foreign governments and be the tutor to his children and favored concubines. Stepping off the steamer from London, Anna found herself in an exotic land she could have only dreamed.