Anna Leonowens


Anna Leonowens : biography

26 November 1831 – 19 January 1915

During a visit to the United States in 1960, the monarch of Thailand, Bhumibol, a great-grandson of Mongkut, and his entourage explained’King’s Ears Won’t Hear Songs from "King and I"’, Washington Post (28 June 1960), p. C1. that from what they could gather from the reviews of the musical, the characterisation of Mongkut seemed "90 percent exaggerated. My great-grandfather was really quite a mild and nice man."Marguerite Higgins, "Siam King Found Shy And Welfare-Minded", Washington Post (30 August 1951), p. B11. Years later, however, during her 1985 visit to New York, Queen Sirikit of Thailand went to see the Broadway musical at the invitation of Yul Brynner. The then Ambassador of Thailand to the US gave another reason for Thailand’s disapproval of The King and I: its ethno-centric attitude and its barely hidden insult on the whole Siamese nation as childish and inferior to the Westerners.

In 1972, Twentieth Century Fox produced a non-musical American TV series for CBS, Anna and the King, with Samantha Eggar taking the part of Leonowens and Brynner reprising his role as the king. Margaret Landon charged the makers with "inaccurate and mutilated portrayals" of her literary property and sued unsuccessfully for copyright infringement.Lawrence Meyer, "Court And ‘The King’", Washington Post (21 November 1972), p. B2.Landon v. Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., 384 F. Supp. 450 (S.D.N.Y. 1974), in Donald E. Biederman, Edward P. Pierson, Martin E. Silfen, Janna Glasser, Law and Business of the Entertainment Industries, 5th edition (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 2006), pp. 349–356. The series was not a success and was canceled after only 13 episodes. In 1999 an animated film using the songs of the musical was released by Warner Bros. Animation. In the same year, Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-fat starred in a new feature-length cinematic adaptation of Leonowens’s books, also entitled Anna and the King. One Thai critic complained that the film-makers had made Mongkut "appear like a cowboy"; this version was also banned by censors in Thailand., Asian Economic News (3 January 2000). Retrieved 29 August 2008.

Leonowens appears as a character in Paul Marlowe’s novel Knights of the Sea, in which she travels from Halifax to Baddeck in 1887 to take part in a campaign to promote women’s suffrage during a by-election.