‘This book is a testament to her status in the world of dance and her Irish background’ – Cork Examiner
NINETTE DE VALOIS, the world-famous prima ballerina, was born Edris Stannus in 1898 and raised at Baltiboys in County Wicklow. In this autobiography, first published in 1957 and now appearing in a new paperback edition, she writes about her extraordinary career – the vivid memories of home in Ireland; her first London engagement at the Lyceum pantomime in 1914; her tour of the Continent with Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes in 1923; her time with the Abbey Theatre in the late 1920s, and the Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells in the 1930s, touring in America with the latter and moving it to Covent Garden in 1946; her travels in Yugoslavia and Turkey where she established a ballet school in 1947; and her founding of The Royal Ballet in 1956, from which she retired as director in 1966.
This compelling ballet success story, illustrated with over fifty photographs, is enlivened by sketches of Yeats, Lennox Robinson, Oliver St John Gogarty, Tyrone Guthrie, Lilian Baylis, Margot Fonteyn, Lydia Lopokova, Frederick Ashton and Constant Lambert, among others. Linking her childhood to incidents from later life, she writes with fluidity and ease, lending focus and depth to a memorable self-portrait.
DAME NINETTE, still a celebrated and lively figure living in London, has written a foreword welcoming a return to her beloved Irish origins: ‘May another generation in Ireland honour me by reading and enjoying this new edition. I do hope that my country will find it interesting: it plays a big part in the original inspiration for my life of dancing.’
Family historian HARRY MCDOWELL contributes a fascinating Appendix on the Stannus and elizabeth Grant Smith (great-grandmother) family connections, tracing the author’s ancestry back to political, military, and theatrical antecedents in Scotland, England and Northern Ireland over three hundred years.
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