The English Governess at the Siamese Court

The English Governess at the Siamese Court by Anna Harriette Leonowens

The English Governess at the Siamese Court by Anna Harriette Leonowens

1862 Anna Leonowens accepted an offer made by the Siamese consul in Singapore, Tan Kim Ching, to teach the wives and children of Mongkut, king of Siam. The king wished to give his 39 wives and concubines and 82 children a modern Western education on scientific secular lines, which earlier missionaries’ wives had not provided. Leonowens sent her daughter Avis to school in England, and took her son Louis with her to Bangkok. She succeeded Dan Beach Bradley, an American missionary, as teacher to the Siamese court.

Leonowens served at court until 1867, a period of nearly six years, first as a teacher and later as language secretary for the king. Although her position carried great respect and even a degree of political influence, she did not find the terms and conditions of her employment to her satisfaction, and came to be regarded by the king himself as a rather difficult woman.

In 1868 Leonowens was on leave for her health in England and had been negotiating a return to the court on better terms when Mongkut fell ill and died. The king mentioned Leonowens and her son in his will, though they did not receive the legacy. The new monarch, fifteen-year-old Chulalongkorn, who succeeded his father, wrote Leonowens a warm letter of thanks for her services.

By 1869 Leonowens was in New York, and began contributing travel articles to a Boston journal, Atlantic Monthly, including ‘The Favorite of the Harem’, reviewed by the New York Times as ‘an Eastern love story, having apparently a strong basis of truth’.She expanded her articles into two volumes of memoirs, beginning with The English Governess at the Siamese Court (1870), which earned her immediate fame but also brought charges of sensationalism. In her writing she casts a critical eye over court life; the account is not always a flattering one, and has become the subject of controversy in Thailand; she has also been accused of exaggerating her influence with the king.”

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Farthest North – Volume 1

Farthest North - Volume 1 by Fridtjof Nansen

Farthest North – Volume 1 by Fridtjof Nansen

One of the 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time.
— National Geographic

“Nansen was the Chuck Yeager of polar exploration.”
–The New York Times Book Review

Being the Record of a Voyage of Exploration of the Ship “Fram”, 1893-96 and of a Fifteen Months’ Sleigh Journey by Dr. Nansen and Lieut. Johansen

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The Story of My Life

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller

The Story of My Life is a personal account of Helen Keller’s life, from her early days to those as an adult. It includes how she came to meet her teacher Ann Sullivan, and learned to communicate using the manual alphabet. It then goes on to chronicle her days as a college student.

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Famous Men of the Middle Ages

Famous Men of the Middle Ages by Addison B. Poland and John H. Haaren

Famous Men of the Middle Ages by Addison B. Poland and John H. Haaren

The famous men of ancient and modern times are the mountain peaks of history. It is logical then that the study of history should begin with the biographies of these men.

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Consoling Thoughts of Saint Francis de Sales

Consoling Thoughts of Saint Francis de Sales by Saint Francis de Sales

Consoling Thoughts of Saint Francis de Sales by Saint Francis de Sales

Francis de Sales was a French priest and later bishop of Geneva who was revered as a master of spiritual direction and fondly remembered for his keen insights into the personal spiritual struggles of men and women of all faiths. His Introduction to the Devout Life, which he wrote especially for laypersons, and his Treatise on the Love of God remain fundamental reading for all earthly pilgrims who seek personal moral improvement and strive for spiritual perfection.

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Life in the Clearings versus the Bush

Life in the Clearings versus the Bush by Susanna Moodie

Life in the Clearings versus the Bush by Susanna Moodie

As a middle class Englishwoman Moodie did not particularly enjoy “the bush”, as she called it. She and her husband moved to Belleville in 1840, which she referred to as “the clearings”. Here she described urban life, including religion, art, and education, especially as compared to relative lack of these things in “the bush”. She studied the Family Compact and became sympathetic to the moderate reformers led by Robert Baldwin, while remaining critical of radical reformers such as William Lyon Mackenzie. This caused problems for her husband, who shared her views, but, as sheriff of Belleville, had to work with members and supporters of the Family Compact. (Summary from Wikipedia)

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The Makers of Canada: Champlain

The Makers of Canada: Champlain by N.-E. Dionne

The Makers of Canada: Champlain by N.-E. Dionne

A biography of Samuel de Champlain, French explorer, founder of Quebec, and father of New France.

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Letters on Sweden, Norway, and Denmark

Letters on Sweden, Norway, and Denmark by Mary Wollstonecraft

Letters on Sweden, Norway, and Denmark by Mary Wollstonecraft

Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark is a personal travel narrative by the eighteenth-century British feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft. The twenty-five letters cover a wide range of topics, from sociological reflections on Scandinavia and its peoples to philosophical questions regarding identity. Published by Wollstonecraft’s career-long publisher, Joseph Johnson, it was the last work issued during her lifetime.

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England

England by Sir Frank Fox

England by Sir Frank Fox

What is this strange land called England; so small in size yet so powerful in influence? What makes her so unique, talented and persistent? This book attempts to answer that. It is a short, well written explanation of England as a unique country written by someone who loved it deeply and yet, as an Australian, could be a bit impartial. In the first part he explains the ‘making’ of England; the Britons and the Romans, the Anglo-Saxons and the Normands. But from there he attempts to give an essence or flavor, delving into the work, the play, the schools, the churches and especially the landscape which make it special. “I have sought in this book to give an impression of some of the most “English” features of the land, devoting a little space first to an attempt to explain the origins of the English people. Thus the English fields and flowers and trees, the English homes and schools are given far more attention than English cities, English manufactures; for they are more peculiar to the land and the people. More markedly than in any superiority of her material greatness England stands apart from the rest of the world as the land of green trees and meadows, the land of noble schools and of sweet homes” from the preface

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John James Audubon

John James Audubon by John Burroughs

John James Audubon by John Burroughs

Audubon’s life naturally divides itself into three periods: his youth, which was on the whole a gay and happy one, and which lasted till the time of his marriage at the age of twenty-eight; his business career which followed, lasting ten or more years, and consisting mainly in getting rid of the fortune his father had left him; and his career as an ornithologist which, though attended with great hardships and privations, brought him much happiness and, long before the end, substantial pecuniary rewards.

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