Book Prize winners 2016 cr Monica Miller

BC Book Prizes winners announced

Literati at the gala were missing two winners, Susan Musgrave and Brian Brett, but the swanky environs of Government House sent most people home happy.        FULL STORY

Who’s Who


Jeannette Armstrong

A is for Armstrong
When Jeannette Armstrong was a child, she witnessed one of the last large salmon harvests on her people’s land in the Okanagan. She has referred to her mother as “a river Indian,” someone who was deeply connected to the traditional fisheries of the Columbia River system. Consequently the loss of the salmon run for her people has resulted, for her, in “the deepest possible grief.”  Revering water and salmon as inseparable, she pledged in 1998 to “forge something new, a new course chosen for the right reasons. A course insuring the preservation of the precious gifts of life to each of us and our generations to come as true caretakers of these lands.” As a result, Jeannette Armstrong has co-edited River of Salmon Peoples (Theytus Books 2016) with Gerry William for and about the indigenous cultures along the Fraser River, focussing on its most valuable resource, the salmon. Nine communities were consulted over a two-year period to gather research, photographs and artwork that complement the oral narratives of each community and the book’s exploration of the environmental challenges now facing the waterway and its contents. $32.95 978-1-926886-41-1

Breault, Linda

Linda Breault

B is for Breault
Couples who eschew traditional notions of living together, or Living Apart Together couples (LAT), are the subject of a book co-authored by Dianne Gillespie and Linda Breault. Living Apart Together: A New Possibility for Loving Couples (Friesen Press 2013) offers a collection of candid stories about LAT relationships. How can couples keep romance alive? How can they sustain both independence and togetherness? Is it possible to be a couple but not live together? Living Apart Together documents couples who nourish committed relationships without living together. Couples of all ages who maintain their own physical space and yet develop strong bonds are included. The book offers tales of couples who have created both happiness and independence in their lives. Dianne Gillespie grew up in Ontario and the Prairies. She met Linda Breault while teaching in China after retiring from over thirty years of teaching English in B.C.’s public schools system. Gillespie is currently working on a fictional series about missing and murdered indigenous women. Linda Breault has worked, lived and loved in Africa, Latin America, New Zealand, Central Asia and China where she crossed cultural, geographic and language borders. During her years working overseas she met several couples and individuals who were in LAT relationships. 978-1-4602-2378-9.

Crockford, SusanC is for Crockford
Susan J. Crockford is a rarity–someone who has mainly made her living off her ability and scientific technical skill for identifying animal bones for biologists and archaeologists. She has travelled extensively for her work and written numerous scientific papers. Having honed her science writing for a general audience on a blog called PolarBearScience since 2012, Crockford used her eclectic professional background, and her experiences as an avid fiction reader, to publish her first novel, Eaten (Createspace/Amazon 2015), described as “a polar bear attack thriller.” In the course of researching and writing about current events in polar bear ecology and conservation, Crockford saw that polar bear attacks drew massive international attention – a reflection of a primal fear that lingers everywhere despite the modern city landscapes in which most of us reside. Her goal was therefore to create a gripping story based on science for readers who would likely never buy a science book. In Eaten, terror reigns across the unprepared populace of northern Newfoundland in the spring of 2025 as hundreds of hungry polar bears come looking for human prey. It’s a humanitarian crisis for the people as well as a wildlife crisis for the polar bears: stopping the carnage will be the biggest challenge local residents, Mounties, and biologists have ever faced. It’s a chilly, science-based alternative to Spielberg’s Jaws, an immersion into that primeval fear of being eaten by a bear. She hope to “generate nightmares for readers living in Ganges or Prince Rupert as in Tuktoyaktuk.” Born in Toronto in 1954, Susan J. Crockford moved to Vancouver in 1968, and settled in Victoria in 1976. She attended UBC for her B.Sc. (Zoology) and completed her Ph.D. at the University of Victoria. / Eaten (Spotted Cow Presentations Inc. 2015) Paperback, CDN $21.95 retail [Kindle, $3.99, ePub $3.79], Paperback: 9781519302557 [ISBN – Kindle: 9780991796625; ISBN – ePub: 9780991796618


Joan Donaldson-Yarney

D is for Donaldson-Yarney
Having travelled the backroads of B.C., Alberta, the Yukon and Alaska, Joan Donaldson-Yarney of the Alberni Valley has switched from writing travel articles to fiction with her Travelling Detective series. She belongs to the Crime Writers of Canada, Federation of B.C. Writers, the Port Alberni Arts Council and the Port Alberni Portal Players. Her short story, A Capital Offense, received Ascent Aspirations Magazine’s first prize for flash fiction in 2010. Donaldson-Yarney’s first three mysteries are Illegally Dead, The Only Shadow In The House and Whistler’s Murder, available as a boxed set. A fourth release, Gold Fever, combines mystery with romance. Her Canadian Historical Series for Young Adults features West to the Best and West to Grand Portage. The former, West to the Bay, was selected by Top Grade for the CanLit for the Classroom / #WeHaveDiverseBooks brochure which features books annotated and recommended by educators for the Canadian classroom. Top Grade is an initiative of the Association of Canadian Publishers. Its brochure is distributed to Canadian classrooms. Available only as e-books, her sci-fi titles are The Criminal Streak and Betrayed. Born in New Westminster, Donaldson-Yarney was raised in Edmonton. While raising her children, she has worked as a bartender, hotel maid, cashier, bank teller, bookkeeper, printing press operator, meat wrapper, gold prospector, warehouse shipper, house renovator and nursing attendant. She belongs to Angels Abreast, a breast cancer survivor dragon boat race team in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. Every four years the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission IBCPC) holds an international festival somewhere in the world. In the spring of 2014, she travelled to Sarasota, Florida to participate. She says she has moved thirty times. Most of her books are available from Books We Love Ltd. of Alberta.

E is for Ecopoetics
Kelly Shepherd wrote five poetry chapbooks prior to Shift (Thistledown $17.95), a collection of poems in which he explores human relationships with the natural world including connection, alienation, and the intersections of ecology and industry. The natural world dominates the themes but the poems also reflect the many meanings of the title including a shift in point of view, physically moving or shifting position, and transformation. Shift, we are told, “rings with the energy of ecopoetics, where human encounters with nature become transformational, and the many meanings of the title are explored.” Shepherd is from Smithers, B.C. He lives and teaches in Edmonton, Alberta. His writing has been published in The Goose, Geist, and The Coastal Spectator. 978-1-77187-104-4

F is for Faux
Literary culture vultures lost a favourite hang-out when the bohemian Bukowski’s closed on Commercial Drive in Vancouver after more than 25 years. It was chef Andreas Seppelt’s first restaurant. It was followed by his “sweetly iconic fish shack” called Go Fish in 2004, then another successful eatery in 2008 called Les Faux Bourgeois. The modest and playful French bistro has garnered critical acclaim and a loyal clientele, giving rise to Seppelt’s first book, Les Faux Bourgeois: Bon Vivants on the East Side (Anvil Press 26.95). Affectionately known as Les Fauxbo, the bistro also owes its origins to designer Scott Cohen and builder Stephen Gagnon. More than a traditional cookbook, with recipes often tweaked by West Coast flourishes, the volume compliments and entices ‘bon vivants on the east side’ with sidebars and stories about ingredients such as cheese, chacuterie and wine. Seppelt has also been a co-owner of Los Cuervos Taqueria and Cantina on Kingsway in Vancouver since it opened in 2013. 978-1-77214-051-4


Cindy Graves

G is for Graves
As Director of Advancement with Simon Fraser University, Cindy Graves self-published Carey-On (FriessenPress 2015), a memoir about the Carey family who moved from Toronto to a hobby farm in Orangeville, Ontario in 1975. Narrators Cindy and Natalie are sisters who recall Natalie’s “premature departure” from home due to youthful romance. Their father Harry Carey fires a shotgun at an unknown car to dissuade repeated trespassing, eventually landing himself in jail, charged with attempted murder. The author’s teenage sister had an abortion, left home and was cut off from the rest of the family. “We never talked about these things,” says Graves. “We just shoved them under the carpet and carried on with our day-to-day lives… I wanted to examine the repercussions and collateral damage on the family, and by extension of all families, in failing to address the trauma and underlying issues.” $39.99 Hardcover 978-1-4602-6712-7 / $28.99 Paperback 978-1-4602-6713-42-7 / $2.99 eBook  978-1-4602-6714-1

Herrlich-Fuss, Gerti

Gerti Herrlich-Fuss

H is for Herrlich-Fuss
Born in Germany during World War II, Gerti Herrlich was twenty years old when she left her family and friends to follow her fiancé Karl Fuss to Australia in 1960. She packed her belongings into a sturdy wooden crate and carefully painted the shipping instructions on the outside. For over fifty years, this “chest full of hope” stored Gerti and Karl’s most precious belongings. A Chest Full Of Hope (Self-published 2016) recounts Herrlich-Fuss’s life journey, from struggling to learn English and make a living in Australia to moving to Canada where her family flourished. Soon after the birth of their second child in Australia, the family made the decision to immigrate to Canada, following a brief return to Germany. The Canadian immigration office in Cologne presciently felt they were the ideal couple, as Karl was a tool & die maker and Gerti was trained in the hospitality industry. Within four months they got their immigration papers and in 1965 the family arrived in Vancouver. It took one day for Karl to find a job in his trade and two years later the couple bought a house. In 1974, Herrlich-Fuss joined Umberto’s Restaurant on Hornby Street, soon becoming the manager for his restaurant empire. In 1988, Herrlich-Fuss and her husband moved to Saltspring Island to open The Old Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast guesthouse. Featured in over 29 travel magazines around the world, the couple ran the guesthouse for 16 years before moving to Victoria to retire. In addition to Herrlich-Fuss’s stories, this funny and touching memoir contains over 120 recipes, including some from The Old Farmhouse Bed & Breakfast.  978-0-9869318-0-2

I is for Ikebuchi
Here’s one we haven’t heard of before… Just as missionaries in B.C. sought to shelter First Nations women and girls from prostitution, the Methodist Woman’s Missionary Society in Victoria established a “Chinese Rescue Home” as a refuge for Chinese prostitutes and other “slave girls” for more than three decades. The facility also accepted Japanese girls and women. The institution sought to redeem the lives of more than 400 women by teaching them domestic skills from 1886 to 1923. With a Ph.D. from UBC, Shelly D. Ikebuchi, department chair on Sociology at Okanagan College, has examined the rescue operation in From Slave Girls to Salvation: Gender, Race, and Victoria’s Chinese Rescue Home, 1886-1923 (UBC Press $95). 978-0774830560

Johel, N.K. also Nirmal Gerow

N.K. Johel

J is for Johel
A Boston-born, New York forensic scientist named Elanna Forsythe George is hired by the Bollywood starlet, Simryn Gill, to investigate the oddly under-publicized death of Rajesh Sharma, a Bollywood director who supposedly died of a heart attack two years previously. She travels to Mumbai and begins to unravel a cult that controls the Bollywood film industry, herself becoming a screen performer at age thirty-three, in N.K. Johel’s two-volume novel, Bollywood Storm–that includes five Bollywood song ‘n’ dance numbers. Johel is a pseudonym for an Indo-Canadian writer born in Duncan, B.C. on August 15, 1959. She attended Lake Cowichan Secondary School (1972-1977) and Vancouver Island University (Theatre 1983-1985), as well as Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design (1987-2002). Her grandfather was a Sikh who immigrated to North America during the first decade of the twentieth century. She credits Toni Morrison’s Jazz and Michael Ondaatje’s Running In The Family as strong literary influences. BOOKS: Bollywood Storm, Book I: New York (Surrey BC: EFG Publishing Dec 2015). $19.99 978-0991797738 / Bollywood Storm, Book II: Mumbai (Surrey BC: EFG Publishing Dec 2015). $19.99 978-0991797738

K is for Kumi
Ardent naturalist Dr. Kumi provides a reference guide to 50 of the most commonly used medicinal plants in Plants That Heal: A Guide to Understanding Phytomedicines and Aromatic Plants (Plantamedica Publishing 2011). The book is designed for both consumers and health care professionals and contains approximately 100 full color photographs and line drawings.  The advice provided concerns the utility and safety in medicines of plant origin. Dr. Kumi is a biomedical scientist who specializes in pharmacology and therapeutics, and natural product medicine. Aside from his scientific research activities is an avid hiker and a nature buff. He is passionately involved with issues concerning biodiversity conservation and our deteriorating environment. His three other published books are: Trees and Shrubs of Pacific North America (Plantamedica Publishing 2011), Common Flora of Western North America (Plantamedica Publishing 2011), and  For Nature’s Sake, Keep the Earth Smiling (Plantamedica Publishing 2011).  9780987711267

April 18, 2013 Charla Huber/News staff Kem Luther, a Metchosin BioBliz co-ordinator, checks out some antlered perfume lichen at Witty's Lagoon. The lichen is commonly used in perfume as a mordant.

Kem Luther

L is for Luther
Kem Luther’s book, Boundary Layer (Oregon State University Press $22.95), uses a multifaceted approach to explore the point where air meets earth. This point, a layer that Luther calls the stegnon, is home to a host of life including lichens, mosses, ferns, fungi and diminutive plants. Boundary Layer reveals an ecosystem as complex as any found on earth, one that shifts with every temperature and condensation change.  The book also focuses on the stegnon’s scientific community. Luther explains that the “narrations in Boundary Layer owe a great debt to the army of biologists who spend their lives investigating the humble inhabitants of the regions just above the soil line. Without their research, all would be speculation.” In pursuit of the boundary idea, Luther’s book also explores the borders between culture, science, nature and the humanities. Luther has degrees from the Universities of Chicago and Toronto. He has taught at Eastern Mennonite University, Sheridan College, York University, and the University of Toronto. He lives on Vancouver Island. 978-0-87071-844-1.


Michaela Chung

M is for Michaela
Among a culture of extroverts, Michaela Chung has worked to carve out a space for the quiet and the reserved. Her book, The Irresistible Introvert: Harness the Power of Quiet Charisma in a Loud World (Skyhorse $12.74), demonstrates the power of low-key charisma in a world of deafening noise. As an introvert coach, she argues that charisma is not reserved for extroverts. Her blog has over two hundred articles on the introvert’s way of life. “The biggest breakthrough for me in 2016,” she writes, “has been learning to truly and completely love myself. The art of self-love doesn’t always come easily to us introverts. We have years of guilt and shame about our introversion to contend with.” She lives in Nanaimo. 9781510704787

Bannatyne-Eng, Nova

Nova Bannatyne- Eng

N is for Nova
As a disabled child in Kimberley, B.C., Nova Bannatyne-Eng fought for acceptance. Born with cerebral palsy,  she became one of the first children with a significant disability to be integrated into, and graduate from, a B.C. public school. When Nova Bannatyne-Eng retired, she began making presentations to school children, educators and other groups about living with cerebral palsy. For most people, meeting Nova is their first encounter with the disease. In her memoir, Just Think, I Could Have Been Normal: Growing Up Extraordinary with Cerebral Palsy (Agio Publishing $19.95), Bannayne-Eng gives insights into what people with disabilities want and need, which is much the same as everyone else: to respected, appreciated and loved. Her story has inspired many others, both with and without disabilities. “I have pursued a career based on seeing the able in disabled, thanks to her courageous and inspirational example,” says teacher Lorri Taylor at Vancouver Children’s Hospital. “Nova is the bravest person I have ever known.” 978-1-927755-40-2

Okot Bitek 1 purple dress

Juliane Okot Bitek

O is for Okot Bitek
Juliane Okot Bitek’s poetry project on the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Rwanda Genocide is 100 Days (University of Alberta $19.95) published in January of 2016, with an introduction by Cecily Nicholson. It’s part of a literary series dedicated to Robert Kroetsch. As someone who has lived in both her native Kenya and Uganda, Okot Bitek recalls her family’s displacement under the vicious regime of dictator Adi Amin while reflecting on the horrific and tragically undeterred genocide in Rwanda. Her work incorporates the Ugandan Acholi oral tradition of her father, the poet Okot p’Bitek, as well as Anglican hymns; slave songs from the Americas, and the contemporary styles of spoken word and hip-hop. 978-1-77212-121-6

Prairie, Katherine book jacket ThirstP is for Prairie
Katherine Prairie is the first author to be published by a new imprint for mysteries and suspense novels, Stonedrift Press, based in Vancouver. Prairie has been a geologist and IT specialist in the international petroleum industry, as well as the author of The Essential PROC SQL Handbook for SAS Users (SAS Press 2005). Set in the Slocan Valley, her first novel, Thirst (Stonedrift 2016), depicts a ‘lockdown’ of the Slocan Valley by U.S./Canada forces to protect the Columbia River dams in the wake of a failed bombing attempt at the Keenleyside Dam that resulted in the shooting deaths of three teens. A female geologist named Alex Graham evades military patrols to slip into a restricted zone in her hunt for a silver mine. Upon her discovery of another gunshot victim in an abandoned mine, she fears she could be next. All eyes are on the dams, but she discovers the true threat lies elsewhere. 978-0-9949377-0-4 $17.95

Quillevere, Hanne

Hanne Quillevere

Q is for Quillevere
Hanne Quillevere’s The Pivotal I CHING (Mac Zen Consulting, 2015) bring’s the ancient Chinese book of wisdom into the modern world. Using the I Ching, Quillevere seeks to  resolve a persistent modern quandary: that of “learning to live in external harmony with Nature by first mastering our inner world of often conflicting aims and shortsighted egocentricity.” Her work serves as a tool for anyone looking to bridge the gulf between their material and spiritual lives. Quillevere was born in Denmark. She came to Canada as a child with immigrant parents. A fully certified teacher for B.C. schools, at one point she taught in French Immersion. However, over the years she mostly taught English language and literature (B.A. Eng. Hon.; M.A. in Eng., UBC). Upon her retirement, Quillevere’s chief interest has been the Chinese oracular book of wisdom, the I Ching. She has devised and taught several continuing-education courses on this subject.  978-0-9916920-3-3

Ray, Arthur J. b&w

Arthur J. Ray

R is for Ray
In 1973, the Supreme Court’s historic Calder decision on the Nisga’a community’s title suit in British Columbia launched the First Nations rights litigation era in Canada. Arthur J. Ray’s extensive knowledge in the history of the fur trade and Native economic history brought him into the courts as an expert witness in the mid-1980s. Ever since he has been a part of landmark litigation concerning treaty rights, Aboriginal title and Métis rights. Intended to appeal to a broad audience, Ray’s Aboriginal Rights Claims and the Making and Remaking of History (McGill-Queen’s $29.95) is an unprecedented, comparative overview of indigenous rights law and claims legislation in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. He examines how different processes have enhanced the use of historical evidence and incorporation of indigenous voices, as well as stimulating scholarly debates. Ray continues to work as a consultant on First Nations’ claims across the country. 978-0-7735-4743-8

Southern, James

James E. Southern

S is for Southern
James Southern turned to writing a collection of fantasy stories after previously publishing his autobiography. Each story in Once Upon: Fairly Tall Fairy Tales (FriesenPress $19.95) is unique but the setting for all of them is Europe of a few centuries ago. Characters in the stories vary from other-worldly beings to teenagers striving to realize their dreams. Before getting married, Southern travelled extensively. His travels are recorded in his three-part autobiography: Twenty Years Around the World, Alaska to Patagonia (about hitchhiking most of the way), and Cape Town to Tunis (driving most of the way). A B.C. resident, James Southern was born in 1943.

Tracey, David

David Tracey

T is for Tracey
David Tracey’s field guide, Vancouver Tree Book (Pure Wave Media $20), is a continuation of a treespotting project first started by Gerald Straley back in 1992. Due to his death a few years later, Straley’s seminal book, Trees of Vancouver (UBC Press), has never been updated. Now, thanks to Tracey and a handful of dedicated arborists, Vancouver Tree Book has continued Straley’s work. The field guide begins with a series of maps outlining Vancouver’s notable and treasured trees, a guided tour that hardly touches on the city’s arboreal diversity. This is followed by a detailed identification guide, subdivided into nine groups of trees found around Vancouver. The book includes photographs of leaves, branches, bark patterns and trees for finding each species in the city. The individual species entries come with location data for finding these trees, allowing the dedicated reader and explorer to follow in Tracey’s footsteps all around Vancouver. The book also includes facts such as the world’s tallest tree (115 metres, Hyperion in northern California), and which species is said to be the oldest on earth (ginkgo biloba). Tracey recognizes the collaborative nature of this project, closing the guide with nods to the other arborists who made it possible. The higher level tree enthusiast can use this information to propel their studies to greater heights, seeking out the work of people like Douglas Justice and Wendy Cutler to further their knowledge. Vancouver Tree Book is a highly-detailed, colourful and almost-pocket-sized reference guide to the plethora of trees that have helped to make Vancouver into one of the most desirable places to live on the planet. 978-0-9865055-2-2.

U is for Urquhart
Including her description of a trip to Tanzania with her husband to investigate the high incidence of albinism in that country, Emily Urquhart’s memoir Beyond the Pale: Folklore, Family and the Mystery of our Hidden Genes (HarperCollins $29.99) investigates the phenomenon of albinism from her perspectives of folklorist and the mother of Sadie, a daughter diagnosed with albinism, a rare genetic condition. We learn, among many things, that the term ‘albino’ is now politically incorrect. People with “oculocutaneous abinism” have little to no pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. As well, they have little protection against the sun; burns are quick and dangerous and may cause skin cancer. “Low pigmentation,” she writes, “results in photophobia, meaning that daylight, particularly the searing rays of high noon, can be intolerable.” With a doctorate in folklore from Memorial University of Newfoundland, Emily Urquhart of Victoria won a National Magazine Award in 2014. 978-1-44342-356-4

Vedam, Shereen tree

Shereen Vedam

V is for Vedam
Shereen Vedam is possibly the only B.C. author who was born in Ceylon, later renamed Sri Lanka. She came to Canada in the early 1970s, eventually relocating to Vancouver Island. As an avid reader of fantasy and romance novels, she is self-described as “a fan of resourceful women, intriguing men, and happily ever after endings.” A Devilish Slumber (ImaJinn $14.80) is her first novel in a fairytale-inspired trilogy or “historical paranormal romance series” set in London, England, in the year 1813. A troubled heroine must undertake an extraordinary journey to clear her name and protect those she cares for. It mixes humour, fantasy, romance and history. 978-1611945928

Wilson, John B&W

John Wilson

W is for Wilson
In Broken Arrow (Orca $10.95) Steve’s plan for a relaxing vacation under the Spanish sun with his friend Laia, ends abruptly when he receives an email from his brother linking their grandfather to shadowy international plots involving nuclear bombs. Was Steve’s grandpa a cold war era spy? In a desperate attempt to find out, Steve and Laia crack mysterious codes, confront violent Russian mobsters, dodge spies, unearth a bomb and avoid nudists. The deeper they look, the more Steve begins to wonder, whose side was Grandpa on? In Wilson’s follow up, due in September,  The Missing Skull (Orca $9.95), Steve is none too thrilled to be visiting his grandfather at a remote lake in northern Ontario. He resents the fact that his twin brother, DJ, got to go to Central America instead. However, things become interesting when his Grandpa offers up the unsolved death of Tom Thomson and his stolen skull. This is a mystery suited for aspiring detective Steve as he follows a trail of clues set up by his Grandpa in a game of intrigue that leads to Steve’s own adventure. 978-1-45981-1584

X is for Xwisten
A Xwisten First Nation elder, Christine Jack is one of twelve indigenous elders whose lives are celebrated in Wisdom from our First Nations (Second Story $10.95) by Lyle Ernst and Kim Sigafus. Born in Lytton in 1967 as her mother’s tenth child, she overcame alcoholic parents and various family tragedies, including her mother’s death when Christine was eight, and was raised by her aunt and uncle in Lillooet. Overcoming alcohol and drugs, she became the first girl in her family to graduate from high school in 1985. Christine Jack has since worked to stop violence against women. 978-1-927583-55-5

Y is for Yekelchyk
As a UVic history professor in the Department of Germanic and Russian Studies, Serhy Yekelchyk examines the ‘politics of memory’ under Josef Stalin with analysis based on declassified information from eight Ukrainian and Russian archives. Stalin’s Empire of Memory: Russian-Ukrainian Relations in the Soviet Historical Imagination (UTP $29.95) uses the Ukrainian republic as a case study to explain intricate relations between the Kremlin, non-Russian intellectuals and their audience. 978-1-4426-2846-5

Hayter-Menzies, Grant Billie Burke bio

Billie Burke as the good witch in Wizard of Oz (1939).

Z is for Ziegfeld
Most people remember the actress Billie Burke, if they remember her at all, for her role as Glinda the Good Witch of the North in MGM’s 1939 film, “The Wizard of Oz,” but many years before that she was a famous stage personality, in London and New York, as well as being the wife of Florenz Ziegfeld. Grant Hayter-Menzies’ biography Mrs. Ziegfeld: The Public and Private Lives of Billie Burke (McFarland & Company, US $25) is the first to be written about her. The book’s release in hardcover in 2009 was planned to be concurrent with the 70th anniversary of “Oz”. “It is something of an ‘authorised’ biography,” says Hayter-Menzies, “as Burke’s daughter and grandchildren cooperated with me in researching Burke’s private life.” He also interviewed actors who performed with her on stage and screen. The bio reveals that Burke did not like it to be known that she was once a dancer with the Ziegfeld Follies before she became known in Hollywood as an actress. “Billie never really stopped being an Edwardian beauty, with all the exaggerated characteristics of behaviour and address that this implies,” writes Hayter-Menzies. “Her effusions strike a note either false or sensual to the modern ear. But they were neither – they were simply the way Billie Burke knew best how to express herself and further her interests at the same time.” This book has just been released in a soft cover version. 978-1-4766-6596-2

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