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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good general read
Unfortunately, a lack of actual sources prevents Dido Belle's life being described in any detail whatever the title may claim. Nevertheless, Paula Byrne has produced a good general read for anyone interested in the judicial process leading to the abolition of the slave trade.
Published 3 months ago by kmy1002

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly not enough of Dido here to really justify calling this a biography...
That I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in less than a day is testimony to the skill of the author. It's also testimony to the fact that it's a relatively short book and very light on detail. In truth, there is not enough here to justify calling this a biography. This is not a book about Dido herself - there is simply not enough trace of her in the historical...
Published 3 months ago by C. Ball


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Sadly not enough of Dido here to really justify calling this a biography..., 2 Jun 2014
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C. Ball (Derbyshire) - See all my reviews
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That I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in less than a day is testimony to the skill of the author. It's also testimony to the fact that it's a relatively short book and very light on detail. In truth, there is not enough here to justify calling this a biography. This is not a book about Dido herself - there is simply not enough trace of her in the historical record to write little more than a paragraph on her. And that's a shame, a real shame, because a full biography of this woman would be fascinating. Dido occupied a relatively unique position in Georgian society - a black woman, the illegitimate daughter of a slave and a naval captain, raised in luxury and privilege by the highest legal authority in the land, a man who may have been influenced by his affection for her in deciding a case that opened the door to the abolition of the slave trade.

Unfortunately, that's about all you could possibly write about Dido herself, and the real significance there is less about her and more about her relationship with Lord Mansfield. The bulk of this book, well-written as it is, explores the context of her life - the abolition movement, Lord Mansfield and his famous ruling in the Somerset case that opened the door to abolition, the abolition movement itself and the famous names like Granville Sharp and William Wilberforce. But it's not about Dido. Her story is yet another casualty of the prejudice of the day: she is all but invisible to history.

After reading this, I'll be curious to see the film based on this book - it can surely bear little relation to historical fact, simply because there is so little historical fact when it comes to Dido's life. I suspect artistic licence will have run rampant, but when has that ever stopped film-makers?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good general read, 20 May 2014
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Unfortunately, a lack of actual sources prevents Dido Belle's life being described in any detail whatever the title may claim. Nevertheless, Paula Byrne has produced a good general read for anyone interested in the judicial process leading to the abolition of the slave trade.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating history!, 6 Jun 2014
With the new film directed by Amma Asante just starting to trickle into cinemas, I picked this up from my local library to delve into the story that inspired the film. Paula Byrne charts the rise of William Murray, 1st Earl Mansfield and tells the incredible story of his adopted niece, Dido Elizabeth Belle using well detailed research and contemporary case studies to paint the picture of her little know life. The book also provides excellent background knowledge and context of the eighteenth century and abolition movement, which is something I wasn't too familiar with but found fascinating. An excellent read for anyone interested in eighteenth century social history...I enjoyed this very much!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tolerance and intolerance in Georgian England, 13 Aug 2014
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Sometimes a person doesn't leave much evidence of their existence but their influence can be felt by the events happening around them. Dido Belle is one such person.

The illegitimate daughter of an English Naval officer and a captured african slave, she could have lived her life on a Caribbean plantation but she didn't. Brought up in her father's extended family in England, she became a much loved companion to an influential judge. His life is more public and his many judgements on the subject of slavery helped to change public opinion and ban the practise in England.

Of Belle there is just one painting and a few references in censuses and correspondence. Therefore, as stated in other reviews, this isn't really a biography but more an exploration of the times and society. It is a really fascinating story of a unique woman.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Was this really the story of Dido Belle? Or ..., 18 Aug 2014
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Was this really the story of Dido Belle? Or an albeit well researched and well written explanation of the beginning of the abolition of slavery. Much deduction about Dido: maybe it needed a more accurate title and selling point!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 9 July 2014
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Loved the book; loved the film; loved the painting.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A history, not a romance..., 29 Jun 2014
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J. Edwards "Bright bird" (Norfolk, UK) - See all my reviews
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I really enjoyed reading this book, however, if you are looking for romantic drama, you would be very disappointed. I found it an honest, factual account with no unevidenced suppositions from the author to shake my belief. It left me itching to follow up the facts (where this is possible) It is a very balanced account that beautifully demonstrates double standards in racial equality. Anyway, read it before you see the film. I haven't seen that yet, but I imagine that it will be a 'full-on' romantic costume drama. Somehow, I don't think that I will enjoy that half as much. I'm just about to read the book again!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Opportunistic, 15 Aug 2014
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H. White (cumbria) - See all my reviews
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Not as good as I had hoped, but feel what historical facts about Dido and her life had been researched as well as could be possible. Her life was so intriguing you just wished for more. Her portrait is fascinating and ultimately you make up your own version of events.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars, 21 Aug 2014
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Sioux (Plymouth UK) - See all my reviews
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much the same as her other book on belle disopointed
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars, 1 Aug 2014
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not what I expected, was okay but not great
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Belle: The True Story of Dido Belle
Belle: The True Story of Dido Belle by Paula Byrne (Audio CD - 8 May 2014)
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