“We are prone to ignore or to condemn that which we do not clearly understand”: First Edition of The English Governess at the Siamese Court

  • The English Governess at the Siamese Court.

The English Governess at the Siamese Court.


Item Number: 42009

London: Fields, Osgood, & Company, 1870.

First edition of the work which was the basis for Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classic hit musical The King and I. Octavo, original green pictorial cloth stamped in black and gold on the front panel and the spine panel. The dedicatee Katherine Cobb’s copy, with her bookplate to the pastedown. With a signed photograph of Leonowens. The author dedicated this work to Cobb, with the following words, “Have not asked your leave, dear friend, to dedicate to you these pages of my experience in the heart of an Asiatic court; but I know you will indulge me when I tell you that my single object in inscribing your name here is to evince my grateful appreciation of the kindness that led you to urge me to try the resources of your country instead of returning to Siam, and to plead so tenderly in behalf of my children.I wish the offering were more worthy of your acceptance. But to associate your name with the work your cordial sympathy has fostered, and thus pleasantly to retrace even the saddest of my recollections, amid the happiness that now surrounds me, — a happiness I owe to the generous friendship of noble-hearted American women, — is indeed a privilege and a compensation.I remain, with true affection, gratitude, and admiration. With illustrations from photographs presented to the author by the King of Siam.

A classic memoir of Leonowens' time spent at the Siamese Court. The English Governess at the Siamese Court (1870) earned her immediate fame but also brought charges of sensationalism. She became well-known with the publication of her memoirs, beginning with The English Governess at the Siamese Court, which chronicled her experiences in Siam (modern Thailand), as teacher to the children of the Siamese King Mongkut. Leonowens' own account has been fictionalized in Margaret Landon's 1944 best-selling novel Anna and the King of Siam, as well as films and television series based on the book, most notably Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1951 hit musical The King and I.

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