Audrey Hepburn: A Biography Review

Audrey Hepburn: A Biography, by Warren G. Harris

Released the year after she died, this book does a pretty good job at getting the facts down. It’s a good read, and must have been very exciting when it came out, but reading it many years after the fact tends to make the factual errors jump out at you. For example, this book claims that Audrey was actually born Andrey Kathleen Ruston, which was something I had never read in a biography before and will probably never come across again. Harris claims that this is a feminization of the name Andrew, but due to typographical errors and the fact that the name Audrey was more common, she became Audrey by default. This is the most glaring error in the book, but overall it is a good read.

In some areas Harris goes into a lot more detail than other biographers. He throws out little tidbits like exact addresses of houses where Audrey had lived throughout her life, which is exciting when you live near some of them or plan to travel in places where she had resided. He also lists various places where her bigger films had previewed or been test screened before general release, and it was a rush to realize that I have walked right past some of these places!

However, some of these details just seem like idle speculation at best, gossip at worst. I don’t want to give away all of the book for you, but Harris claims that Ella and Joseph (Audrey’s parents) divorced because of Joseph’s fascism. To put it more bluntly, Joseph’s father-in-law bribed Joseph into walking away from his family and never seeing his wife or daughter again, because Ella’s father was so fearful of Joseph’s political dealings. Hmm. Still, the book is a good read, especially for the more advanced Audrey fans who are getting to the point where they’ll read anything they can get on her, true or not. The pictures are worth looking at, too. If you can find this book at your local library I’d definitely recommend borrowing it, since it would be a fairly quick read, but if you were thinking about buying, you might want to check out a used book store or the Amazon marketplace, since it is out of print. Just don’t pay more than $20 for it.

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