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Vivien Leigh: A Biography

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  714 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
Autobiography of Vivien Leigh.
Unknown Binding, 319 pages
Published June 2nd 1979 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 1977)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,276)
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Emily Wiersma
I loved learning about Vivien Leigh. Gone with the Wind is one of my favorite classic movies and this beautiful actress has always fascinated me. Vivien Leigh to an outsider would look like she had it all, fame, money and true love however that wasn't the case. She was manic depressive and fought TB throughout her adult life which eventually killed her. But she never seemed to let it get her down she was a fighter all her life and fought for everything she had. She was truly one of the greatest ...more
Nov 30, 2007 Graceann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Biography Fans
Shelves: biography
Anne Edwards helped me to understand Vivien Leigh a bit better, no mean feat for a lady who was so complex. She had to be difficult to love, but her talent was amazing.
Mike Mills
Jul 20, 2013 Mike Mills rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bio-reads
I have always considered Vivien Leigh's portrayal of Blanche Dubois one of the top three film performances of all times. I will never watch (and I've said this many many years ago) another production of "A Streetcar Named Desire" on film or on stage again, because she owns that character. She IS the definitive Blanche Dubois. And as for Scarlett O'Hara, what else can be said that hasn't already been said. There was a reason why it took so long to cast her. Vivien knew it would be hers. She just ...more
Debbie Maskus
This book is a wonderfully written story about an extremely interesting actress. Vivien Leigh surpassed many obstacles to become a leading actress, whose first love was the theater, and only did films for the financial benefit. I was amazed to learn of her life and the separation from her parents of a very young age. But, according to Anne Edwards, Vivien remained friendly and loyal to everyone she met. I felt that Laurence Olivier contributed to her many bouts of depression, and I really thorou ...more
Mar 13, 2015 Marie-Louise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first real biography I've ever read. I've always had this terribly ignorant view of biographies as being dry and stuffy. How wrong was I? Vivien Leigh stole my heart a long time ago when I first watched 'Gone With The Wind' this biography of her life truly captured those feelings all over again, Leigh is magical. Her life although exciting and beautiful was followed by this dark shadow of tragedy and sadness. I didn't know so much of the information about Leigh, how her name came to ...more
May 18, 2013 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gone With The Wind is one of my all time favorite movies so when I spotted this book at my Aunt's house, I knew I wanted to read it. I sometimes Google a celebrity to learn more about them and I honestly don't know why I had never done that to learn more about the person that was Vivien Leigh. I do prefer to read books about them because the authors have often spoken to people close to the subject or even the subject themselves. After reading this book I am even more in awe of this fascinating w ...more
Ruth M. Hebert
Jul 27, 2015 Ruth M. Hebert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent biography of one of the greatest film and stage actresses who ever lived.

Despite severe mental illness at a time when there was little effective treatment, Vivien Leigh, who battled remittances of tuberculosis as well, refused to capitulate. She continued on to achieve her best performances in the occupation she had been gifted with...even after her beloved Oliver abandoned her due to her bipolar disorder for a younger woman. Inspiring!
Nov 21, 2011 Selina rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book many years ago and of all the biographies of Leigh I think it was good to get a female perspective on how the the actress who played the infamous Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind lived. I think it dwelt too much on the manic depression at times and not enough on the good things in Vivien's life so it made for a rather depressing read. Also as it was one of the first bios out it seemed a bit 'quick' and many of the 'facts' in it are inaccurate or exaggerated. However the bio ...more
Russalia Kovacheva
Mar 22, 2016 Russalia Kovacheva rated it really liked it
I was very disappointed with A. Edwards' style of writing. The book was more like the spine of a book, the notes she has collected, just the raw material for a future project. It was very messy at times, hard to make the connection between some facts and also, there was a significant lack of dates. There were some, but in my opinion, not in the right places. One can simply lose track of how old exactly Vivien is, in some moments.

I was planning on giving it a three-star-rating, but decided other
Alicia K. Crowder
Feb 21, 2016 Alicia K. Crowder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting bio left me wanting more

This biography of Vivien Leigh provided facts, details, and an overall view of this beautiful woman and actress. There is much discussion of her struggle with manic depression which was so at odds with her real personality. The book left me wanting more insight, though, about Ms Leigh herself. Some analysis of the bare facts would have been interesting.
Jul 09, 2014 Kaethe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
My interest in Leigh comes straight out of my interest in Gone With the Wind. Of course, later on, I became a Tennessee Williams fan, so there's that too.
Feb 19, 2010 Trish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This biography has made a lasting impression upon me. I feel so sad for this woman who struggled with her mental illness and eventually drove away the love of her life. I have mixed feeling now towards Laurence Olivier (due to the events that unfold in their latter years together). Their love for one another was wild and strong, but succumbed to Vivien's illness. I guess everyone has their threshold, it is still so sad. A great actress who was a great beauty and to me will always be Scarlett O'H ...more
Lisa Burris
Feb 05, 2015 Lisa Burris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this biography of Vivien Leigh. It was the first one I picked up, choosing randomly, when I became interested in learning more about the actress. Since I enjoyed this book so much, it has spurred me on to reading more widely about Ms. Leigh.
I learned quite a bit in this one. I knew Viv was Scarlett O'Hara and Blanche DuBois, but pretty much everything else was new. I feel like I might've known that she was with Sir Laurence Olivier, but for some reason I thought she died young.

My main complaint about this book is that the author did a lot of copying and pasting of letters. Especially towards the end, big sections of the book, were just letter after letter from Viv to people - never any to her.

Definitely interesting, but not exact
Aug 28, 2015 Roxanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vivien Leigh was a talented lady but she was also very troubled and had some type of mental problem that hindered her relationships. She was happier in her later life with her grandchildren. But who could forget Gone With The Wind.
Sep 08, 2015 Edyta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's unbelievable how much you can get attached to a person, just reading about them. I always liked Vivien Leigh - the actress, now I also like Vivien Leigh - a person. Though I suspect being her friend would've been really hard at times.
Dec 31, 2015 Jo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was fun to read about one of the movie stars I watched a young women and enjoyed her work in Vivien Leigh: A Biography.
Lori Nemitz
Read between January and June 1986.

Original notes on book from 1986: Good! Very interesting woman
Jul 29, 2013 Jo-dee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a very good biography of Miss Leigh (considering Miss Edwards was her biographer). I have read the Alexander Walker bio and they really are up to par with eachother, but Miss Edwards wrote about things that Mr. Edwards didn't even mention in his bio version. Also she gave a more "in depth" perception of Vivien Leigh's "Manic Depression" or "Bi Polar Disorder" as it's known today. It is a very sad biography because we all know what happens at the end (the ending almost made me cry a bit ...more
I really did not know much about Vivien Leigh before this except she had been in Gone with the Wind, I didn't even know she was british!! This biography does a good job of sucking you into her life and problems. Her maniac depressive order is extenstively covered but the author ofter referred to her maniac phases as "bad behaviour" and not actually tell you what that bad behaviour was. Which did become irritating after a while, however, this is the major flaw of the book. It was an enjoyable rea ...more
Clint Tierney
Feb 16, 2015 Clint Tierney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This could've dug a little deeper, and perhaps suffers a little from the author's admiration of the subject, but is nonetheless a sympathetic portrait of a complex, troubled, and yet talented and driven individual. I personally found this a very rewarding read.
Jul 23, 2013 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
Growing up I only knew Vivien as 'Scarlett O'Hara'. This insightful biography brings to light the strength of character this beautiful woman had throughout her life. It must have been horrific for her to deal with bipolar/schizophrenia back then before or modern meds were available. And then to had TB as well. Many would just curl up and die. This biography depicts the ups and downs giving the readers a powerful insight to an icon-both the person as well as the entertainer. I'd recommend it with ...more
Nick Davies
Feb 12, 2016 Nick Davies rated it liked it
A very interesting biography of the actress and star of 'Gone With The Wind', but fairly hard going. As true and complete a record of Leigh's life as this was, the author erred more on the side of factual content, and less on the side of crafting a biography that captured the reader and kept them rapt.
Ella rose marion
i am right now at the part in this book where vivien and olivier just finished gone with the wind. it was a very had time for vivien because she had changed directors three times, got yelled at, and her fellow actors weren't the most cooperative either. she talked of how clark gable had "terrible hygiene" and, he director would scream at her and make her cry during rehearsals. but still she got through it and became one of the worlds greatest actresses because of it! that is why i love vivien le ...more
Aug 31, 2009 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a huge "Gone With the Wind" fan, I read this book many years ago. In addition to the book and the movie, I was captivated by the actress who played the primary female role so well. It's an excellent biography, and I especially remember being interested in her relationship with her husband, Laurence Olivier. Another tid-bit I remember from the book is Vivien reporting that she wasn't fond of kissing Clark Gable because he had bad breath.
Carol Storm
Careful, respectful, well-researched and yet painfully dull.
Amy Wolf
Feb 04, 2013 Amy Wolf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the better bios of Leigh. We follow her from her birth in India to the theatre to film, and really get into her romance/marriage with Laurence Olivier. Leigh was unfortunately mentally ill after GWTW, and underwent electroshock therapy & divorce. Still, a good portrayal of one of my favorite actresses!
Jan 12, 2011 Angie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book years ago. Vivien Leigh is one of my favorite actresses. It was heartbreaking to read about her mental illness and how it destroyed her life, her marriage. If she had been born 20 years later even, she would have had proper treatment. If you are a fan, you will want to read this.
Mar 14, 2013 Lorraine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I went through a period where I watched all Vivien Leigh movies (probably after having seen Gone with the Wind as a teenager) and so read this biography with great interest. It was so sad to hear of her mental illness. I prefer to remember her as Scarlett O'Hara.
I really enjoyed this Biography of Vivien Leigh. The only real issue it had was the fact that it was a reissue from the 70's and therefore lacked a lot of more current information. Other than that it was very enjoyable and a fairly quick read.
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