Anna Leonowens

Standard Name: Leonowens, Anna
Birth Name: Ann Harriett Emma Edwards
Married Name: Ann Harriett Emma Leonowens
Self-constructed Name: Anna Leonowens
Indexed Name: Anna Harriette Leonowens
Perhaps the most famous governess of all time, AL is better known as Anna of The King and I than for her literary achievements. She was an enterprising and independent world traveller—arguably a Victorian example of a hybrid colonial subjectivity—whose fictionalised memoirs and stories based on her time in Siam received substantial attention in her lifetime. Admired in their time for their anti-slavery rhetoric, they have recently drawn attention to the complex relationship between European women and empire. A public speaker, AL also produced other travel writing, journalism, and art criticism.
Photograph of a painting of Anna Leonowens by Robert Harris, about 1905. She is shown from the shoulders up, wearing a deeply V-necked grey dress with a high-collared white blouse under it. She has a green shawl wrapped around her and a gold pin at her neck, and her grey hair is pulled into a bun on top of her head.
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Connections Sort descending Author name Excerpt
Cultural formation Queen Victoria
QV came from the Hanoverian line of the English monarchy and learned English as a second language to German from the age of three. She occupied an anomalous role as the white female ruler of...
Intertextuality and Influence Harriet Beecher Stowe
HBS is remembered above all as having contributed substantially with Uncle Tom's Cabin to the build-up of anti-slavery feeling in the North before the Civil War. The sense of her influence is encapsulated in the...
Textual Features Isabella Bird
In this travel book she pays close attention to harems, which were by then de rigeur for women's accounts of travels in the Middle East.
Her description may also have been influenced by Anna Leonowens
Textual Production Julia Pardoe
In 1846 Miss Pardoe's Complete Works appeared. This contained The Confessions of a Pretty Woman, The Jealous Wife, The Rival Beauties, The Wife's Trials, and The Romance of the Harem (which...
Textual Production Freya Stark
In 1952, FS contributed an introduction to a new edition of Siamese Harem Life (originally The Romance of the Harem) by Anna Leonowens .
OCLC WorldCat.
Blain, Virginia, Patricia Clements, and Isobel Grundy, editors. The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present. Yale University Press; Batsford, 1990.


9 November 1857
The first issue appeared of the US magazineAtlantic Monthly. It set out to provide articles of an abstract and permanent value, while not ignoring the healthy appetite of the mind for entertainment in...
Emmeline Lott published The English Governess in Egypt: Harem Life in Egypt and Constantinople.. Different editions over the next few years, in England and the USA, used variant forms of the...