Maud Allan, the famous exotic dancer was destroyed by the infamous libel trial brought by charismatic MP and pilot, Noel Pemberton-Billing. In this wonderfully written book, Russell James charts her rise and fall from the days when she saved the 1908 London Olympics from failure to the outrageous miscarriage of justice of her trial which knocked the dark days of the First World War off the front pages of the national newspapers. In his gripping narrative, Russell seamlessly moves from the days when Maud was courted by society to the end when her friends, apart from former PM's wife, Margot Asquith, shunned her in case they, too, were labelled as sexual deviants. The trial was based on the existence of the notorious (and fictional?). German black book and its list of 47,000 sexually depraved people who could be used by the Germans to defeat the British in War. Names included Herbert and Margot Asquith and the judge himself. Maud did not stand a chance. A fantastic read brought out in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympics which will be looking ahead to the next London Olympics, in four years' time.
The captivating story of Maud Allan has been beautifully written and researched by Russell James. The Marilyn Monroe-Angelina Jolie-Madonna of her day risked everything to save her own reputation in a trial which the author recounts from primary sources - or you just couldn't believe that an MP (Noel Pemberton-Billing) could behave with such a cavalier disregard for the truth...
It is a shocking miscarriage of justice and stunning that the star who saved the 1908 London Olympics (90,000 people turned out to see her) should be subjected to such outrageous accusations. All this and stories about the First World War and some of its biggest stars, including Lloyd George, Repington and Wilfred Owen.
This really is a must-read book, I loved it!
by Fiona Shoop, 28th July 2008
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