Vivien Leigh: A Biography by Anne Edwards

Normally, I don’t read biographies that were written so long ago because I find them out-of-date with information revealed after a person died, but foundVivien Leigh: A Biography rather good. I’m not a fan of Gone with the Wind, but always thought Vivien Leigh was a good actress, and I’ve always known about her struggle with having bipolar episodes. I was always curious about the breakdown of her marriage to Sir Laurence Olivier and after reading this, my opinion of Olivier has gone down. He didn’t know how to deal with Leigh’s mental illness, so he didn’t; he essentially abandoned her and focused on his work instead, which brought him into the arms of Joan Plowright. What an asshat.


It is sad that Leigh felt the stigma of mental illness and frequently refused treatment because of that. I’d like to say that things have improved in the last 50-60 years, but living with mental illness still means preconceived notions about how and why a person behaves in a particular way.

It is nice that the author had letters of Leigh’s to rely on to help tell the story, but towards the end of the book, she uses series of letters in their entirety instead of writing the story herself.

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