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Comment: The item is fairly worn but continues to work perfectly. Signs of wear can include aesthetic issues such as scratches, dents, and worn corners. All pages and the cover are intact, but the dust cover may be missing. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting, but the text is not obscured or unreadable.
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Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice Paperback – April 29, 2014

3.6 out of 5 stars 131 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Byrne’s aim is to show how these objects, many of them reproduced in her book in lush color plates, reveal a much more cosmopolitan awareness of the world than is commonly credited to Austen.” (Maureen Corrigan, NPR for THE REAL JANE AUSTEN)

Vividly persuasive…. THE REAL JANE AUSTEN is excellent… particularly on the dissonant topics of theater and slavery….Byrnes section on slavery is better still, establishing links between Austen’s protagonists and contemporary figures, her pointed references and contemporary events, which highlight her supposedly oblivious fiction’s sharp views on the slave trade.” (New York Times Book Review for THE REAL JANE AUSTEN)

“Byrne takes Austen seriously as a writer...[she] brings to life a woman of “wonderful exuberance and self-confidence,” of “firm opinions and strong passions.” Little wonder that every other man she meets seems to fall in love with her.” (Michael Dirda, Washington Post for THE REAL JANE AUSTEN)

“Byrne brings to this brief history an eye for telling details of daily life, slaveholders’ unthinkable cruelty, and the fervent work of a few good men and women who changed their world.” (Kirkus Reviews)

From the Back Cover

The sensational tale of the first mixed-race girl introduced to high-society England and raised as a lady...

The illegitimate daughter of a captain in the Royal Navy and an enslaved African woman, Dido Belle was raised by her great-uncle, the Earl of Mansfield, one of the most powerful men of the time and a leading opponent of slavery. When the portrait he commissioned of his two wards, Dido and her white cousin, Elizabeth, was unveiled, eighteenth-century England was shocked to see a black woman and white woman depicted as equals. Inspired by the painting, Belle vividly brings to life this extraordinary woman caught between two worlds, and illuminates the great civil rights question of her age: the fight to end slavery.

The feature film Belle is produced by Damian Jones (The Iron Lady, The History Boys, Welcome to Sarajevo), written by Misan Sagay, and directed by Amma Asante, and stars the extraordinary Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido Belle, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Reid, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Tom Felton, Matthew Goode, and Emily Watson.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (April 29, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062310771
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062310774
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Paula was born in Birkenhead in 1967, the third daughter in a large working-class Catholic family. She studied English and Theology at the college that is now Chichester University and then taught English and Drama at Wirral Grammar School for Boys and Wirral Metropolitan College. She then completed her MA and PhD in English Literature at the University of Liverpool. She is now a full-time writer, living with her husband, the Shakespeare scholar Jonathan Bate, and their three young children (Tom, Ellie and Harry) in an old farmhouse in a South Warwickshire village near Stratford-upon-Avon.

Paula is represented by The Wylie Agency. She is an Executive Trustee of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Warwick.

Paula is the author of the top ten bestseller Perdita: The Life of Mary Robinson (HarperCollins UK, Random House USA). A selection for the 2005 Richard and Judy Book Club and a British Book Awards 'Best Read' nomination, Perdita was also long-listed for the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize. It tells the extraordinary story of the eighteenth-century actress, poet, novelist, feminist, celebrity and royal mistress Mary 'Perdita' Robinson (1757-1800).

Paula's first book, shortlisted for the Theatre Book Prize, was Jane Austen and the Theatre, published in 2002 and reissued in paperback in 2007 by Hambledon Continuum. Paul Johnson of The Spectator chose it as his best-ever book on Jane Austen and the Times Literary Supplement described as a 'definitive and pioneering study of a wholly neglected aspect of Austen's art.' She has also edited a Routledge Literary Sourcebook on Jane Austen's Emma.

Paula has published essays on a wide range of women authors, reviews for the Sunday Telegraph and the TLS, and in her new book tells the story of Evelyn Waugh's friendship with the extraordinary aristocratic family who inspired Brideshead Revisited. Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead is published worldwide by HarperCollins, with the UK edition out in August 2009 and the USA edition forthcoming in early March 2010.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A while ago I saw the film ‘Belle’ which tells the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle. The inspiration for this film was a portrait, showing Lady Elizabeth Murray and what was originally thought to be a black servant girl. However, in the 1980s it was realised that the black girl in the picture had much higher status than that. In fact, she was Lady Elizabeth’s cousin, daughter of Captain John Lindsay. Dido’s mother was a slave. Dido was brought to live with her childless uncle and aunt at the age of around five. The family she lived with were a noble family, which gave Dido a unique status in society.

While officially there wasn’t slavery in Britain, many high up families made money supported by either the slave trade itself, or the labour of slaves in far away plantations. Most black or mixed race people living in Britain in the 1700s would be ex-slaves or servants. However, Dido had a status high above that, yet not as high as her cousin, firstly due to the fact that she was illegitimate, and secondly due to her race. The uncle who took Dido in wasn’t just any gentleman – he was Lord Mansfield, the Lord Chief Justice, the highest judge in England, and one who happened to specialise in maritime insurance law and hence would deal with cases involving slaves. Lord Mansfield made decisions that paved the way for the abolition of slavery, and there were some that said this was due to the influence of one of his much-loved adoptive daughters, Dido Belle.

There is very little known about Dido, aside from the date of her christening, other church records and a number of bequests that were made to her by her family, so I knew the filmmakers took artistic licence with her story.
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I might have missed it in the description or was swayed by the cover, but this is a historical, factual book. Not a novel. It is not a story, it is a history lesson. And a very well detailed lesson. I've always been interested in the history of the atrocities of human trafficking during this era in the US, but had not read much about it in Europe. This provided a very complete lesson with the additional pull of a beautiful heroine at the center. I gave it three stars because I was disappointed to find it wasn't a novel I could lose myself in. But I do believe that the information was presented in such a way to keep the reader interested.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Commissioned by the producers of the new movie Belle, acclaimed biographer Paula Byrne aims to reveal the true story behind the main characters in the movie: Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate daughter of a captain in the Royal Navy and an African slave, and her great-uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield (1705-93) and Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench. BELLE: THE SLAVE DAUGHTER AND THE LORD CHIEF JUSTICE is both a companion volume to the popular movie and a time capsule into the turbulent abolition movement in the late eighteenth-century England.

Inspired by the 1779 portrait of Dido and her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray, screenwriter Misan Sagay has written a compelling story based on facts she first learned of while visiting the 2007, Slavery and Justice Exhibition. Dido and Elizabeth were Lord Mansfield’s wards and raised together at Caen Wood House, now know as Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath near London. While the screenplay is based on actual facts, it also incorporates a fictional narrative worthy of a seventh Jane Austen novel. In contrast, BELLE: THE SLAVE DAUGHTER AND THE LORD CHIEF JUSTICE is an historical account of the people and times and not a novelization of the movie.

Movies (and novels) based on real people and events always intrigue me, especially those set in my favorite time period, Georgian England. I was aware of the Jane Austen connection to this story from a JASNA Persuasions Online article Ambiguous Cousinship: Mansfield Park and the Mansfield Family, by Christine Kenyon Jones. We know from Austen’s letters that she met Dido’s cousin Lady Elizabeth Finch-Hatton (nee Murray) several times from 1805-1813 while visiting her elder brother Edward in Kent.
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If you were looking for a novel, this isn't it. If you wanted a history book about Dido Elizabeth Belle, well, this isn't it either. Unfortunately, little is known about the woman called Dido, who shows up in a painting (or two). More information is available about Lord Mansfield, but sadly, there was a riot and a fire which destroyed a lot of his personal documents. So what you get is a book about the time period when they lived, what was going on with the slave ships, how sugar was a big, bloody industry, and hints of the relationship between Dido and Lord Mansfield (and no, it wasn't that kind of relationship!). The author makes a few Jane Austen connections during the course of the book, which I found a bit strange, but it didn't detract from the overall story. It's a quick read, and I know more now than when I started so that's good.
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I'm only half way through the book but it is very well written and provides a lot of information about 18th century England and how it became rich from slavery, the life of William Muray and his great affection for Dido and a great deal of detail about those legal cases relative to how he helped make slavery illegal in England.
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