The fascinating biography of an almost forgotten star of the Victorian stage brought back to life by the Sunday Times bestselling author of Sisters of the East End.
Emily Soldene was a courageous actor-manager whose life spanned the entire Victorian period. She challenged the stereotype of Victorian women and showed just what women
could achieve with enough determination. From in humble working-class beginnings born
as the daughter of a Clerkenwell milliner in 1838, she rose to become a celebrated leading lady, director and formidable impresario creating one of the era’s most celebrated opera
companies. Her career took her to theatres across America and Australia, as well as throughout Great Britain, before reinventing herself as a journalist and writer in her fifties.
She wrote a weekly column for the Sydney Evening News, as well as a novel and a memoir, and scandalised the capital with her revelations. Emily Soldene died in 1912.
A darling of London’s music halls and theatre land, Emily counted Charles Dickens and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood as friends and mingled with the Rothschilds, Oscar Wilde and
aristocrats. Charting her international triumphs and calamitous disasters, from taking Broadway by storm, to befriending cowboys in the Wild West and touring the Australian outback, Helen Batten vividly recreates the era and a riotous life that has faded from the limelight.
Putting Emily Soldene firmly back in centre stage, The Improbable Adventures of Miss Emily Soldene is a portrait of an irrepressible character who trod the boards, travelled the globe and tore up the Victorian rule book.
HELEN BATTEN is the Sunday Times bestselling author of Sisters of the East End, and of The Scarlet Sisters which told the story of her grandmother’s life. She is also the co-author of Confessions of a Showman: My Life in the Circus, Gerry Cottle’s autobiography.
After reading history at Cambridge, Helen studied journalism at
Cardiff University. She went on to become a producer and director at the BBC. She now works as a writer and psychotherapist. She lives in West London with her three daughters.
My thoughts: the author is a distant relative of Emily Soldene so this added a nice extra dimension to the story of one of history’s forgotten women. Emily was a brilliant woman, reinventing herself from illegitimate daughter to darling of music halls and opera houses. Her talent and sheer determination saw her battle back from failure time and again, eventually becoming a writer and journalist.
She was feted across the UK, America and Australia, blazing a trail, which saw her, her sister Clara and her niece Katie all spend time on stage. But Emily was the star. An incredible biography of a truly remarkable woman.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.