Kingsland, Rosemary 1941-
KINGSLAND, Rosemary 1941-
Born 1941, in India; married Gerald Kingsland (deceased); children: Roddick, Rory, Redmond (sons).
Novelist, journalist, ghostwriter, and screenwriter. Has also worked as an independent oliveoil maker and merchant.
Just a Gigolo (film novelization), Corgi (London, England), 1979.
A Saint among Savages, Collins (London, England), 1980.
Hussy (film novelization), Sphere (London, England), 1980.
Treasure Islands, Angus & Robertson (London, England), 1980.
After the Ball Was Over, Viking (New York, NY), 1985.
Cassata, Viking (New York, NY), 1987.
Savage Seas, TV Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Hold Back the Night: Memoirs of a Lost Childhood, a Warring Family, and a Secret Affair with Richard Burton, Century (London, England), 2003, published as The Secret Life of a Schoolgirl, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2003.
Collaborator and ghostwriter on volumes such as Behind the White Ball, Random House (London, England), 1998, the autobiography of snooker player Jimmy White; The Antiques Buyer, Orion, 1999, written with David Dickinson; and David Dickinson: What a Bobby Dazzler, BBC Consumer Publishing (London, England), 2003, autobiography of British television personality and antiques expert David Dickinson.
Journalist, novelist, and screenwriter Rosemary Kingsland was born in the Himalayan mountains of India in 1941. With the turmoil of Indian independence and the end of the days of the British raj, Kingsland's family left the life of relative privilege they had enjoyed in India and went to England, where they endured poverty and severe internal conflicts. "Her womanizing, spendthrift father and neurotic, dependent mother argued constantly and bitterly," noted Nancy P. Shires in Library Journal. At age fourteen, in an episode half schoolgirl fantasy, half storybook romance, Kingsland met renowned actor Richard Burton and engaged in a brief but intense affair with him.
Kingsland recounts in great detail her affair with Burton in her highly controversial but closely scrutinized autobiography, The Secret Life of a Schoolgirl, originally published in England as Hold Back the Night: Memoirs of a Lost Childhood, a Warring Family, and a Secret Affair with Richard Burton. Kingsland met the twenty-nine-year-old Burton at a cafe. Soon after, he seduced her in a friend's flat, and the two rendezvoused many times over the next year. Kingsland's affair with Burton was aided by her unpleasant, neglectful home life, which allowed her to be absent from home for extended periods and not missed.
Even when Burton found out her age—he originally thought she was about seventeen—he continued the relationship. A pregnancy and abortion ensued. The young Kingsland was devastated when she learned that Burton was married and also carrying on another affair with actress Claire Bloom. Eventually, Burton moved to Switzerland to escape taxes, and the affair with Kingsland ended as abruptly as it had begun.
The story might have remained safely untold with Kingsland if she hadn't confided in an old friend while the two rode out a tornado during her stay in Tennessee. Her friend encouraged her to write the story, and Kingsland agreed. Afraid that the writing would be difficult and painful, instead Kingsland found it "liberating," remarked Raakhee P. Mirchandani in Boston Herald. "The trigger to write this book was definitely my relationship with Richard," she told Mirchandani. "But the book turned out to be more than that, and in the end I made peace with my father."
Kingsland's "beautifully written memoir is a description of, on the one hand, a family life of drudgery and, on the other, her account of a secret, guilty affair with Burton," remarked Catherine Jones in the Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales). "Kingsland brings Burton alive; his remarkable voice, his heavy drinking, his bitterness toward his father who abandoned him after his mother's death when he was a toddler, his uneasy relationship with his foster father, Philip Burton, who pushed him socially upward," wrote Deirdre Donahue in USA Today. "Kingsland's ability to convey her acceptance, forgiveness, and knowledge that to be human is to be weak, frail, and yet sometimes utterly marvelous makes The Secret Life of a Schoolgirl a profoundly satisfying read," Donahue concluded.
In the years after her episode with Burton, Kingsland began her career in writing and publishing. At age twenty she worked for a news agency on London's Fleet Street, and later, "I was publishing magazines, including one on film, called Premier," she recalled on the Rosemary Kingsland home page. She became the wife of Gerald Kingsland and the mother of three sons, Roddick, Rory, and Redmond. The family moved frequently, Kingsland reported on her home page. In the early 1970s they went to Tuscany to make wine and olive oil. She later left Italy and was commissioned to write A Saint among Savages, for which she spent about a year in the Ecuadorian Amazon rain forest. She started writing for television, then wrote novelizations of two movies (Hussy and Just a Gigolo) before moving to the United States and settling near Nashville, Tennessee. There she wrote two novels, After the Ball Was Over and Cassata. By 1990 she had returned to Wales, where she wrote documentaries for television. After she moved to London to care for her terminally ill mother, she became a ghostwriter. She also wrote her autobiography, The Secret Life of a Schoolgirl, during this period.
A Saint among Savages tells the story of Rachel Saint, a Christian missionary who lived for almost twenty years among the Wagrani, or Auca, of Ecuador. It is notable that she chose to spend so long among a violent tribe which had earlier killed her brother, one of five missionaries slain while trying to make initial contact with the tribe. That Saint "should be moved to befriend and live among them seems the extreme of Christian charity," observed Trevor Allen in Contemporary Review. Along with the widow of another slain missionary, and aided by a local Auca woman, Dayuma, Saint lived and worked among the Auca until her own poor health forced her to leave. "There have been many books about primitive Amazon tribes, rarely one with an arresting a story as this," commented Allen.
Kingsland's 1985 novel, After the Ball Was Over, is a "bouncy but slight comic novel" set in Jamalpur, India, where the populace is preparing for the year's most anticipated social event, the Railway Apprentices' Ball, noted a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Meanwhile, the "townful of quite horrid English households, rotten in the core," along with local drunkards, fornicators, murderers, psychopaths, and a man-eating tiger, go about their business, remarked a Kirkus Reviews critic. Mary Ellen Quinn, writing in Booklist, called it "an entertaining if inconsequential novel."
Savage Seas, a nonfiction companion book to the Public Broadcasting Service series of the same name, explores in depth the relationship of the seas to the earth and to planetary cycles. Divided into six sections, the book covers the effects of the oceans' tides, waves, and currents; the influence that oceans have on terrestrial weather; cold zones in the world's oceans; equipment and methods for deep-sea diving and exploration; legendary and actual "sea monsters" and creatures of the deep; and survival techniques for disasters and accidents at sea. "Savage Seas is a wonderful introduction to the different seas and oceans on our planet," commented Richard Sumrall on the Lincoln Daily News Web site. "The writing is lively," Sumrall continued, "and captures the reader's attention from beginning to end."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kingsland, Rosemary, Hold Back the Night: Memoirs of a Lost Childhood, a Warring Family, and a Secret Affair with Richard Burton, Century (London, England), 2003, published as The Secret Life of a Schoolgirl, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2003.
Albuquerque Journal, July 11, 1999, David Steinberg, review of Savage Seas, F6.
Booklist, August, 1985, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of After the Ball Was Over, p. 1631; July, 2003, Michelle Kaske, review of The Secret Life of a Schoolgirl, p. 1856.
Books & Bookmen, April, 1980, Geoffrey Moorhouse, review of A Saint among Savages, pp. 34, 36.
Boston Herald, August 3, 2003, Raakhee P. Mirchandani, "Brit Writer: I Was Burton's Teen Lover," p. 10.
Contemporary Review, April, 1980, Trevor Allen, review of A Saint among Savages, p. 223.
Daily Telegraph (London, England), May 8, 2004, Isobel Shirlaw, review of Hold Back the Night: Memoirs of a Lost Childhood, a Warring Family, and a Secret Affair with Richard Burton.
Entertainment Weekly, July 25, 2003, Michael Sauter, review of The Secret Life of a Schoolgirl, p. 75.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 1985, review of After the Ball Was Over, pp. 547-548; March 1, 1987, review of Cassata, pp. 327-328; May 1, 2003, review of The Secret Life of a Schoolgirl, pp. 659-660.
Library Journal, August, 1985, review of After the Ball Was Over, p. 117; August, 2003, Nancy P. Shires, review of The Secret Life of a Schoolgirl, p. 96.
New York Post, August 6, 2003, "Richard Burton's Real-Life Lolita Reveals All," p. 45.
Publishers Weekly, June 21, 1985, review of After the Ball Was Over, p. 97; March 27, 1987, review of Cassata, pp. 36-37; May 19, 2003, review of The Secret Life of a Schoolgirl, p. 61.
School Library Journal, November, 2003, Susanne Bardelson, review of The Secret Life of a School-girl, p. 173.
Sunday Times (London, England), July 27, 2003, review of Hold Back the Night, p. 47.
Times Literary Supplement, May 16, 1980, Paul Henley, review of A Saint among Savages, p. 564.
USA Today, July 31, 2003, Deirdre Donahue, "'Schoolgirl' Has a Secret: A Lusty Affair with Burton; Author's Memoir Goes Far Beyond a Scandal Story," D5.
Washington Post Book World, October 13, 1985, Wendy Law-Yone, review of After the Ball Was Over, p. 13; July 31, 2003, Jonathan Yardley, "A Schoolgirl and Her Secret Tutor," C2.
Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), August 9, 2003, Catherine Jones, interview with Rosemary Kingsland, p. 4.
WWD, July 10, 2003, Samantha Conti, "London's Living Lolita," p. 4.
Elle Magazine Web site,http://www.elle.com/ (June 30, 2004), review of The Secret Life of a School-girl.
Independent (London, England) Web site, http://www.enjoyment.independent.co.uk/ (April 23, 2003), David Thomson, review of The Secret Life of a Schoolgirl.
Johnson County Library Web site (Kansas), http://www.jocolibrary.org/ (June 30, 2004), Leslie Loftus, review of The Secret Life of a Schoolgirl.
Lincoln Daily News Web site,http://www.lincolndailynews.com/ (January 31, 2001), Richard Sumrall, review of Savage Seas.
Northern Express Web site,http://www.northernexpress.com/ (June 30, 2004), Nancy Sundstrom, review of The Secret Life of a Schoolgirl.
Rosemary Kingsland Home Page,http://www.rosemarykingsland.com (June 30, 2004).*