Meet the authors - Ninette de Valois

Ninette de Valois

Widely regarded as one of the foremost figures in the history of ballet, prima ballerina Ninette de Valois was born Edris Stannus in County Wicklow in 1898 and died in London in 2001.

In this compelling memoir, first published in 1957 and now appearing in this updated paperback edition, she writes about her extraordinary career: the vivid memories of her home in Ireland; her first London engagement at the Lyceum pantomime in 1914; her tour of the Continent with Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes in 1923; her time with the Abbey Theatre in the late 1920s, and the Old Vic and Sadler’s Wells in the 1930s; her travels in Yugoslavia and Turkey, where she established a ballet school in 1947 and her founding of The Royal Ballet in 1956.

This story of de Valois’ mythic rise to fame as dancer, choreographer and director is illustrated with over fifty photographs and brought to life by sketches of Yeats, Lennox Robinson, Oliver St John Gogarty, Tyrone Guthrie, Lilian Baylis, Margot Fonteyn, Lydia Lopokova, Frederick Ashton and Constant Lambert, among others. It is a powerful testament to her enduring influence on the world of dance.

In a foreword to the Lilliput edition Dame Ninette welcomed a return to her native soil: ‘May another generation in Ireland honour me by reading and enjoying this. My country plays a big part in the original inspiration for my life of dancing.’