Dame Julie Andrews is the epitome of English class and elegance. Therefore, we expect no less than a memoir written with the upmost eloquence and sophistication. This expectation is more than fulfilled in Andrews’ heartfelt memoir ‘Home’, which details her early life and career.
As most memoirs begin, Andrews tells the reader of her family; her parents, her siblings, and their different residencies. Andrews explains that she was born Julia Elizabeth Wells. However her parents divorced when she was young, and her mother soon married a man named Ted Andrews. Her mother and her step-father decided that Julia Andrews was not a suitable name (an A at the end of her first name and at the beginning of her last name would be somewhat difficult to pronounce), therefore her name was changed to Julie.
As Andrews was growing up, her mother and step-father were already an established act in vaudeville. Her mother, Barbara, was a talented pianist, and her step-father was a singer. When Ted Andrews discovered that Julie had a phenomenal four octave range, she joined him and her mother in the theatre. Whilst this was the beginning of Andrews’ incredibly successful career, it did mean that she had to forfeit her education.
Her Broadway career began when she was approached to perform in a musical named The Boyfriend. After this came two Broadway performances, without which Andrews may never have had the career she did. The first of these was My Fair Lady, in which she originated the role of Eliza Doolittle, opposite Rex Harrison’s Henry Higgins. The success of this lead to her being asked to play the role of Queen Guenevere in Camelot, opposite Richard Burton as Sir Lancelot.
It was one evening, after a performance of Camelot, that Andrews was told Walt Disney had seen the performance, and wanted to come backstage to meet her. After complimenting Andrews on her performance, Disney asked her if she was available to make a motion picture with him. This picture was to be called Mary Poppins – a picture that would later become one of the most famous and highest grossing films of all time. Unfortunately, Andrews had to tell Disney that she could not take the role, as she had just found out she was pregnant. Disney then explained to Andrews that the picture would not be ready to begin shooting until sometime after the baby was born, and with that, Andrews accepted the role.
Andrews ends her memoir when she, her husband and new born baby, Emma, are on a flight to Hollywood to being shooting Mary Poppins.
There is no doubt that this memoir is beautifully written, and we would expect no less from the Queen of Genovia herself. It is definitely a must-read for any Julie Andrews fan. She tells personal, sensitive and some incredibly funny stories, most of which had never been revealed before. One particular story comes to mind, when she details a couple mysteriously being given free tickets to a performance of My Fair Lady. When they returned home from the performance, they discovered their house had been burgled! Many more stories like this make Andrews’ memoir incredibly engaging and worth reading.
In March 2015, Andrews announced that she will be penning another memoir, due to be released in 2017. It will detail the part of her life that has perhaps been most exposed to the public, including her experiences working on Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music. I for one am definitely looking forward to reading the highly anticipated follow up to ‘Home’.