Ever since westerners arrived in Japan, we have been intrigued by geisha. This fascination has spawned a wealth of fictional creations, from Madame Butterfly to Arthur Golden's MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA. The reality of the geisha's existence has, however, rarely been described. Contrary to popular opinion, geisha are not prostitutes but, literally, 'arts people'. Their accomplishments might include singing or dancing but, above all, they are masters of the art of conversation, soothing the worries of the highly paid businessmen who can afford their attentions. The real secret history of the geisha is for the first time fully and brilliantly explored here by an award-winning writer.
Lesley Downer's mother was Chinese and her father a professor of Chinese, so she grew up in a house full of books on Asia. But it was Japan, not China, that proved the more alluring, and she lived there for some fifteen years.
She has written many books about the country and its culture, including Geisha: The Secret History of a Vanishing World, and Madame Sadayakko: The Geisha who Seduced the West, and has presented television programmes on Japan for Channel 4, the BBC and NHK.
She lives in London with her husband, the author Arthur I. Miller, and still makes sure she goes to Japan every year.
Find out more at www.lesleydowner.com