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Encyclopedia > Anna Leonowens

Anna Leonowens (November, 1831 – January 19, 1915) is chiefly famous for being the British governess portrayed in the book and film Anna and the King of Siam and in the musical adapted from it, The King and I. The musical play, based on adaptations of her factually controversial memoirs, provides a fictionalised look at her life in the royal court of Siam (present-day Thailand). January 19 is the 19th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1915 (MCMXV) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar (or a common year starting on Thursday[1] of the 13-day-slower Julian calendar). ... Anna and the King of Siam is a 1944 book by Margaret Landon, a play and a 1946 movie directed by John Cromwell. ... The King and I is a musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, with a script based on the book Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon. ... As a literary genre, a memoir (from the Latin memoria, meaning memory) forms a subclass of autobiography, although it is an older form of writing. ...

Contents

Early life and family

Leonowens claimed in her memoirs to have been born Anna Harriette Crawford in Caernarfon, Wales, on 5 November 1834, daughter of Thomas Crawford, a British Army captain, who died in action after her birth. However, contemporary research by W.S. Bristowe has discovered no record of her birth in Wales, nor can her alleged father be found in the Army records. The same research has suggested that she was born in India in November 1831, of an English father, Thomas Edwards, a cabinetmaker turned British Army sergeant who died soon after her birth, and a partly East Indian mother, Mary Anne Glasscott, and that her maiden name was Ann Harriet Edwards. If true, this would not be consistent with Leonowens' claim that she moved to India at the age of fifteen to live with her mother, after growing up with relatives and in boarding school. Caernarfon (the original Welsh spelling is now almost always used in preference to the anglicised forms, Caernarvon or Carnarvon) is a royal town in north-west Wales. ... This article is about the country. ... is the 309th day of the year (310th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1834 (MDCCCXXXIV) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display the full calendar) of the Gregorian Calendar (or a common year starting on Monday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar). ... William Syer Bristowe, who wrote under the name W.S. Bristowe, (d. ... The British Army is the land armed forces branch of the British Armed Forces. ... Sergeant is a rank used in some form by most militaries, police forces, and other uniformed organisations around the world. ... The Indies, on the display globe of the Field Museum, Chicago The Indies or East Indies (or East India) is a term used to describe lands of South and South-East Asia, occupying all of the former British India, the present Indian Union, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives, and...


Leonowens' widowed mother married Patrick Donohoe (an Irish corporal awarded the Victoria Cross circa 1857 for bravery) in Bombay, India. In 1845, her elder sister, Eliza Julia, married Edward John Pratt, a British civil servant who had served in the Indian Navy. Eliza and Edward had a son, Edward John Pratt, Jr., who in 1887, along with his wife, Eliza Sarah Millard, produced a son named William Henry Pratt, better known as film star Boris Karloff. Corporal is a rank in use in some form by most militaries, police forces or other uniformed organizations around the world. ... The Victoria Cross (VC) is a military decoration awarded for valour in the face of the enemy to members of armed forces of some Commonwealth countries and previous British Empire territories. ... This article or section should be merged with Mumbai Mumbai (previously known as Bombay) is the worlds most populous conurbation, and is the sixth most populous agglomeration in the world. ... The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the armed forces of India. ... Boris Karloff (born William Henry Pratt) (London, November 23, 1887 – February 2, 1969) was an English actor, who immigrated to Canada in the 1910s, best known for his roles in horror films and the creation of Frankensteins monster in 1931s Frankenstein. ...


Marriage and widowhood

It was in India that she met and married in 1849, Thomas Leon Owens, a civilian clerk (and not an Army officer as she wrote in her books). After the death of their first child they reportedly set out for England, eventually settling in London where they brought up two healthy children, Avis and Louis. W.S. Bristowe's research has suggested, however, that the young Owens family moved frequently throughout Asia. Motto (French) God and my right Anthem No official anthem - the United Kingdom anthem God Save the Queen is commonly used England() – on the European continent() – in the United Kingdom() Capital (and largest city) London (de facto) Official languages English (de facto)1 Government Constitutional monarchy  -  Monarch Queen Elizabeth II... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... William Syer Bristowe, who wrote under the name W.S. Bristowe, (d. ... World map showing the location of Asia. ...


Avis would go on to marry Thomas Fyshe, a Canadian banker. Louis T. Leonowens moved to Siam with his mother during her stay at the Siamese court and became an officer in the Siamese royal cavalry. He married Caroline Knox, a daughter of Sir Thomas George Knox, the British consul-general in Bangkok (1824–1887), and a Siamese wife, Prang Somkok, who died in 1888. Louis went on to found the trading company that bears his name to this day. Motto ชาติ ศาสนา พระมหากษัตริย์ Nation, Religion, King Anthem Phleng Chat Royal anthem Phleng Sansoen Phra Barami Capital (and largest city) Bangkok1 Official languages Thai Government Military Junta and Monarchy  -  Head of State HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej  -  Prime Minister General Surayud Chulanont  -  President of the Council of National Security General Sonthi Boonyaratglin Formation  -  Sukhothai... French Republican Guard - May 8, 2005 celebrations Cavalry (from French cavalerie) were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback in combat. ... A BTS skytrain passing the Sathon area of Bangkok. ...


Thomas Leon Owens found work as a hotel keeper in Malaysia|Malaya but died of apoplexy in Penang in 1859, at age 33, leaving Anna an impoverished widow. She had never before needed, or planned, to work outside the home. The only way she now had of supporting herself, however, was to become a teacher, and so she opened a school for the children of officers in Singapore. She also changed her surname to Leonowens, which was how her husband's surname was written on his death certificate. State motto: Bersatu dan Setia (United and Loyal) State anthem: Untuk Negeri Kita (For Our State) Capital George Town Ruling party Barisan Nasional  - Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Abdul Rahman bin Haji Abbas  - Ketua Menteri Dr Koh Tsu Koon History    - Ceded by Kedah to British 11 August 1786   - Japanese occupation 1942... Apoplexy is an old-fashioned medical term, generally used interchangeably with cerebrovascular accident (CVA or stroke) but having other meanings as well. ... State motto: Bersatu dan Setia (United and Loyal) State anthem: Untuk Negeri Kita (For Our State) Capital George Town Ruling party Barisan Nasional  - Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Abdul Rahman bin Haji Abbas  - Ketua Menteri Dr Koh Tsu Koon History    - Ceded by Kedah to British 11 August 1786   - Japanese occupation 1942...


Royal governess

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Though successful, the school could not support the family financially, and thus she came to the momentous decision to accept an offer made by the Siamese consul in Singapore and become a teacher of the children of the King Mongkut. She succeeded Dan Beach Bradley as teacher of the English language. Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ... King Mongkut (Rama IV), (October 18, 1804 – October 1, 1868) was king of Siam from 1851 to 1868. ... Dan Beach Bradley (1804-1873) was a Christian missionary to Siam. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ...


The reasons for her decision to send her daughter to school in the United Kingdom, while her son travelled with her to Bangkok, are not clear; though no doubt the position of women in the royal palace where she was going would not have been such as to allow her children to be treated equally. At around the time of her arrival, the King's eldest son, Chulalongkorn, was to be elevated to a position equivalent to Crown Prince, whilst his eldest daughter was enduring quite a different ceremony, that of the tonsure. It is no wonder that she made such a fuss about the delay by the King in fulfilling his promise to provide her with a house of her own. With 82 children and 39 wives, it was hardly likely that the King and his ministers would take much notice of a woman, albeit a European woman who was responsible for the education of the King's children. King Mongkut, however, was a learned and cultured man, who was breaking new ground for Siam simply by deciding to educate his wives and children. King Chulalongkorn the Great or Rama V (royal name: Phra Chula Chomklao Chaoyuhua; Thai: ) (September 20, 1853 – October 23, 1910) was the fifth king of the Chakri dynasty of Thailand. ... Tonsure is the practice of some Christian churches of cutting the hair from the scalp of clerics as a symbol of their renunciation of worldly fashion and esteem. ...


Relations with King Mongkut

The King himself was a complex character. Educated and intelligent, he was nevertheless constrained by his own upbringing and traditions. He may have felt a degree of respect for the European woman — indeed, must have, otherwise he would not have employed her as one of the teachers to whom he trusted the education of his much-loved children.


Leonowens wrote of his torture and execution of a girl, Tuptim, in her second book, Romance of the Harem. The book is a collection of stories about oppressed Siamese. The story illustrates how different Siamese ideas of justice and religion were to those prevalent in Victorian era British Empire, let alone those in vogue in the 20th century. Historians argue, however, that this incident was not recorded by any other Bangkok expatriates. Queen Victoria (shown here on the morning of her accession to the Throne, 20 June 1837) gave her name to the historic era The Victorian era of the United Kingdom marked the height of the British Industrial Revolution and the apex of the British Empire. ... The British Empire in 1897, marked in pink, the traditional colour for Imperial British dominions on maps. ...


Anna's departure from Siam did not have, as popularly thought, anything to do with the King's death, and he did not plead with her to remain[citation needed]. However, she was in the process of negotiating a return to his court when he was taken ill and died. Fifteen-year-old Chulalongkorn wrote her a warm letter of thanks for her services, but did not invite her to return to Siam. King Chulalongkorn the Great or Rama V (royal name: Phra Chula Chomklao Chaoyuhua; Thai: ) (September 20, 1853 – October 23, 1910) was the fifth king of the Chakri dynasty of Thailand. ...


That the King held Anna in some regard is indicated by the fact that she and her son were both mentioned in his will, though they never received the legacy.


Relations with King Chulalongkorn

The young King Chulalongkorn, elected according to Siamese tradition to succeed his father, made many reforms including the abolition of the practice of prostration before the royal person. Anna's teaching of him cannot be given complete credit for this[citation needed], but it would be surprising if she had not had some influence on him. By this time she was already contributing articles based on her experiences to the Atlantic Monthly, which were later expanded into two volumes of memoirs which earned her immediate fame[citation needed], despite the stilted manner in which she wrote. Prostration can mean either: the placement of the body in a reverentially or submissively prone position (for instance, as part of religious or spiritual observance); or, physical or mental exhaustion (for instance, as part of a medical condition). ... The Atlantic Monthly (also known as The Atlantic) is an American literary/cultural magazine that was founded in November 1857. ...


She became personally acquainted with Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a book whose anti-slavery message had not been lost on some of Anna's pupils in Siam. She visited the United States, Imperial Russia and other European countries, and eventually met King Chulalongkorn again when he visited London in 1897, thirty years after she had left Siam. He himself expressed his debt to her on that occasion. Harriet Elizabeth Beecher Stowe (June 14, 1811 – July 1, 1896) was a white American abolitionist and novelist, whose Uncle Toms Cabin (1852) attacked the cruelty of slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential, even in Britain. ... Uncle Toms Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly, is American author Harriet Beecher Stowes fictional anti-slavery novel. ... Imperial Russia is the term used to cover the period of history from the expansion of Russia under Peter the Great, through the expansion of the Russian Empire from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean, to the deposal of Nicholas II of Russia, the last tsar, at the start... World map showing the location of Europe. ...


Later years

 Anna came to the United States and after her first book was published, worked as a teacher at the Berkeley School in New York City beginning in the fall of 1880. Her name appears in ads for the school in the New York Times in the late summer of 1880. Later she went to live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, where she became involved in women's education, and was a suffragette and one of the founders of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. After 19 years, she moved to Montreal. 

Anna Leonowens died on January 19, 1916, at 83 years of age, and was interred in the Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal, Quebec. The City of Halifax was the capital of the province Nova Scotia, and the largest city in Atlantic Canada. ... Motto: Munit Haec et Altera Vincit(Latin) One defends and the other conquers Capital Halifax Largest city Halifax Regional Municipality Official languages English Government - Lieutenant-Governor Mayann E. Francis - Premier Rodney MacDonald (PC) Federal representation in Canadian Parliament - House seats 11 - Senate seats 10 Confederation July 1, 1867 (1st) Area... Suffragette with banner, Washington DC, 1918 The title of suffragette (also occasionally spelled suffraget) was given to members of the womens suffrage movement in the United Kingdom. ... The Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University (NSCAD) is a post-secondary art school located in Halifax, Nova Scotia. ... January 19 is the 19th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1916 (MCMXVI) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display the full calendar). ... Opened in 1852, Mount Royal Cemetery is a 165-acre (668 000 m²) terraced cemetery on the north slope of Mount Royal in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. ... This article needs cleanup. ...


Truth or fiction?

Leonowens presented her own account as factual, and for most of the 20th century it was accepted by most in the West[citation needed] as such, despite being strongly disputed in Thailand. The regular appearance of the story in various dramatic productions, plus Anna Leonowens' own ability to obscure the truth during her own lifetime, meant that the fictional and true accounts of Anna Leonowens' life became very confused.


It was, in the end, a chance discovery by a scientist which brought inconsistencies in her accounts and the historical record to more general attention. In the 1970s, Dr. W.S. Bristowe, a regular visitor to the Far East in search of spiders, was researching a biography of Leonowens' son, the successful businessman Louis T. Leonowens. After meticulous research Bristowe came to believe that significant parts of the famous tale were fictional. He located her actual birth certificate, marriage record and other pertinent legal documents and published a book about his findings called Louis and the King of Siam in 1976. Nevertheless, Bristowe's work is not universally accepted, and accounts of Leonowens' life still vary. The true story of Anna Leonowens' life may never wholly be clear. William Syer Bristowe, who wrote under the name W.S. Bristowe, (d. ... Thomas Louis Cunnis Leonowens (25 October 1856 - 17 February 1919) was a Siamese royal cavalry officer and founder of an important trading company. ...


Anna Leonowens in fiction and film

It was only after Margaret Landon's novelisation of the original Leonowens memoirs in 1944 that the story of Anna and her stay in Siam became popular. It was quickly made into a film, Anna and the King of Siam, which took artistic liberties with the plot; and the musical by Rodgers & Hammerstein followed not long afterwards, making even more drastic changes. In 1972 an American TV series with Samantha Eggar playing Leonowens was produced. In 1999, Jodie Foster starred in Anna and the King, and a cartoon version of The King and I was released. Revived many times on stage, the musical has remained a favourite of the theatre-going public. However, the Rodgers and Hammerstein film is still banned in Thailand. Margaret Landon (September 7, 1903 - December 4, 1993) was an American writer who became famous for Anna and the King of Siam, her 1944 novel of the life of Anna Leonowens. ... An autographed photo of Richard Rodgers Richard Charles Rodgers (June 28, 1902 – December 30, 1979) was one of the great composers of musical theater, best known for his song writing partnerships with Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein II. He wrote more than 900 published songs, and forty Broadway musicals. ... For work done with Richard Rodgers, see Rodgers and Hammerstein Oscar Hammerstein II (July 12, 1895 – August 23, 1960) was a New-York born writer, producer, and (usually uncredited) director of musicals for almost forty years. ... From The Walking Stick, 1970 Samantha Eggar (born March 5, 1939) is an English actress. ... Jodie Foster (born November 19, 1962) is a two-time Academy Award-winning American actress, director, and producer. ... Anna and the King is a 1999 motion picture loosely based on the story of Anna Leonowens, who was an English schoolteacher in Siam, now Thailand, in the 19th century. ...


References

Most Thai were shocked by the portrayal of their revered nineteenth-century king, Mongkut, in the musical The King and I. The stage and screen versions were based on Margaret Landon's 1944 book entitled Anna and the King of Siam. To correct the record, well-known Thai intellectuals Seni and Kukrit Pramoj wrote this account in 1948. The Pramoj brothers sent their manuscript to the American politician and diplomat Abbot Low Moffat 1901-1996), who drew on it for his biography entitled Mongkut the King of Siam (1961). Moffat donated the Pramoj manuscript to the Library in 1961. (Southeast Asian Collection, Asian Division, Library of Congress)
  • Louis and the King of Siam, W.S. Bristowe, Chatto & Windus, 1976, ISBN 0-7011-2164-5
  • Anna Leonowens: A Life Beyond The King and I, Leslie Smith Dow, Pottersfield Press, 1992, ISBN 0-919001-69-6

Seni Pramoj at the Thai Legation in Washington, D.C., in September 1944, when he was ambassador to the United States. ... Maj. ... The King and I is a musical by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, with a script based on the book Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon. ... Anna and the King of Siam is a 1944 book by Margaret Landon, a play and a 1946 movie directed by John Cromwell. ... Seni Pramoj at the Thai Legation in Washington, D.C., in September 1944, when he was ambassador to the United States. ... Maj. ...

External links

  • Works by Anna Leonowens at Project Gutenberg
    • The English Governess at the Siamese Court Being Recollections of Six Years in the Royal Palace at Bangkok, by Anna Leonowens, from Project Gutenberg.
    • Romance of the Harem, from Google Books (PDF available).
  • "The Truth about Anna Leonowens" by Thai Students.
  • "The Truth About The King and I" by Thai Students.
  • Louis T. Leonowens (Thailand) Ltd., the company founded by Leonowens's son.
  • (Thai) "Anna Leonowens: Who says she's a compulsive liar?" Art and Culture Magazine
  • (Thai) "Letter from 'King Mongkut' to 'Anna' from To to Dear and the case of 'Son Glin'. Art and Culture Magazine
  • (Thai) "King Mongkut set up 'secret mission' disguising Sir John and Anna, hid Laos in Khmer" Art and Culture Magazine
  • (Thai) "King Mongkut’s letters to Anna: When Madame Teacher plays political negotiator" Art and Culture Magazine

  Results from FactBites:
 
The Truth About Anna Leonowens (2091 words)
Anna Leonowens is world famous as the governess in the Court of Siam due to the popularity of the musical The King and I. Many people believed that they were watching a true story.
Anna claimed she was born in Wales in 1834, which would have made her 28 when she arrived in Bangkok in 1862.
In 1857, Leonowens, by then a major, was posted to Singapore and it was there Anna heard the bad news that a small fortune left to her by her father had been lost in the collapse of a bank during the Indian Mutiny.
Anna Leonowens (1283 words)
Anna Leonowens (1834 - 1914) is chiefly famous for being the British governess in The King and I.
It may be concluded that the opening scenes of the famous films based on the life of Anna Leonowens, in which the young "English" widow arrives in the strange eastern city of Bangkok amongst people whose way of life is a complete mystery to her, are highly misleading.
In 1867, Anna went to live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, where she became involved in women's education, was a suffragette and one of the founders of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design[?].
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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