Ballet Shoes, and newsletters

and Posy is Vicky Page !!




Ballet Shoes and newsletters 1


This week  I found out something absolutely astonishing and amazing, combining many of my favourite interests in one story.

And  I also think the way I found out might be of interest to some readers – so I will cover both of these matters in this post...

The new information is about one of my all-time lifetime favourite books, Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes, (4 blog entries, many mentions, and Streatfeild one of the most-featured authors on the site). And it concerns who was chosen to portray Posy in the publicity for the book on its first publication in 1936... see below for the MOIRA SHEARER connection.

I made my discovery via a mighty newsletter from the journalist and writer Caroline Crampton – she puts out her ‘No Complaints’ each Friday. Newsletters is an area I am only starting to dip into, but I feel they are adding to my life.

I know, I know - we all have enough to read and to plough through -  but newsletters are a good way to hear about interesting things in brief, and then investigate in detail just the things that you want to pursue.

And let’s face it – we all have inboxes full of emails that we didn’t ask for and don’t want – might at least find something that is of interest and fun and well-chosen. So here’s a few newsletters that I like:

1) No Complaints You can sign up for Caroline’s newsletter here – it is, roughly speaking, a list of ideas for things to watch read or listen to each week.


2) Lunch Poem by Barbara Speed  'A poem I like and some thoughts about it, once a month'

Sign up here. In this case you will be sent a poem every couple of weeks, along with a commentary on it. Just right, not too demanding and a delight to be sent something beautiful, usually at lunchtime..

3)  Sarah Ward’s newsletter Our own Sarah, crime fiction writer extraordinaire, has an occasional newsletter talking about what is going on in her world – and about her marvellous books: A Patient Fury is the latest. Sign up here.


4)  Domestic Slutteryclick here. ‘Domestic Sluttery is a daily newsletter that makes your life more fun, more beautiful, more delicious and more interesting. We brighten up every day with our favourite things: design, food, fashion, travel and excellent women past and present.’



There you go – between them they can charm, delight, inform and entertain.


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And now on to



Ballet shoes & Red Shoes

– and Caroline would have earned her keep for all time by telling me about this in her newsletter...

Ballet Shoes is one of the finest children’s books ever written. When it was published, Noel Streatfeild (who one always feels was way ahead of her time and very serious about marketing herself and her books) wanted three young girls to portray the Fossil sisters for publicity purposes. And the Posy she found was Moira Shearer, who was 10 when Ballet Shoes came out, and as red-headed as Posy was. And who went on to be one of the most famous ballerinas of her age – because she starred in the unique and unsurpassable ballet film The Red Shoes in 1948. It's probably the most famous ballet film ever, and is beloved of and has inspired generations of impressionable young women. So, rather like the book Ballet Shoes, then, appropriately enough.  

This is how Noel S tells the story:

My publishers wanted some photographs of three real children dancers to advertise the book. I went to a Miss Fairbairn whom I knew, who had a well-known dancing school, and asked her to help me. She said she would, and I walked round the school with her looking for three children dancers to match the children in my story. I found my first two easily, a fair pretty child who looked like Pauline, the eldest of my three, a dark intense child who would do well as Petrova, the middle one of my family, and then I was stuck. The real dancer in my book was the baby of the family, called Posy, but nowhere could I see anyone who looked like my little red head.

Then what seemed to me a miracle happened. A door opened, and my Posy walked in. "There she is," I said to Miss Fairbairn, "quite perfect." Miss Fairbairn shook her head. "That's a little girl called King, but she wouldn't do for your photograph, she's far too small to stand on her pointes." "But I must have her," I argued, "she's just right, and she's got a dancer's face." Well, I wore Miss Fairbairn down and at last it was agreed that I could have "little king", as Miss Fairbairn called her, provided in the photograph she could be in the middle, held in position by the other two children. Some years later Miss Fairbairn sent me a copy of that photograph with a note saying "Did you know that the little red head you insisted on using for the photograph because she had a dancer's face has become Moira Shearer?"



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Streatfeild tells this story much later: as a prelude to an interview with Moira Shearer - you can read all of this, including the interview, on a site dedicated to the Powell-Pressburger team who made The Red Shoes. It is here.

In the film, Moira Shearer plays Vicky Page, a talented ballerina 'torn between her dedication to dance and her desire to love.'

Additional fact: in the most recent version of Ballet Shoes, shown on the BBC at Christmas 2007, Posy was played by Lucy Boynton – who is one of the stars of the new film of Murder on the Orient Express.

And of course any Moira in the public eye is of particular interest to me – the Streatfeild item has the title A Question for Moira, which puts me on my mettle…






















Comments

  1. What a great story, Moira! I've seen Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes< and she really is Victoria Page. I can see how she fit the bill for Posy. I always think this background information is so fascinating. And to think you learned it a newsletter. They really can useful.

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    1. I know! I love the modern ways of finding things out. And you can totally see Posy growing up to be in The Red Shoes...

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  2. Funnily enough, Moira, just this week I have decided to produce a newsletter myself. Lovely story!

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    1. Oh great, Chrissie, apparently it's the way to go! I look forward to signing up for it...

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  3. Really interesting article, Moira. This was one of my favourite books as a child, and I have to confess I still occasionally read it now!

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    1. You're in a safe place here Sarah - I re-read it every now and again too, and am not ashamed to admit it... It is ALWAYS a joy to read.

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  4. Love this. one of my favourites, too, and on the special shelf next to my bed with all my Monica Edwards books. Also loved Curtain Up - more my thing as ash aspiring actor - and bought all the rest of her books later, as a grown up. Mind I haven't quite grown up yet... (Thank you, Sarah Rayne, for pointing me to this.)

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    1. And this year saw the Matthew Bourne Red Shoes ballet, which was wonderful.

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    2. Some books are comfort reads, I keep mine together now, so if I need a break from life I have some good ones to choose from. I loved Curtain Up too, loved that WW2 atmosphere. Did you ever read Swish of the Curtain by Pamela Brown? another favourite of mine.

      I would love to see the Bourne Red Shoes, but haven't managed it yet.

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  5. Didn't Posy complain about being forced to dance in films (when we see her in Painted Garden)? The Res Shoes could be a film she'd have excelled in but only did grudgingly for the money and til she could dance in her beloved ballets. Great post btw :-)

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    1. I answered this once, but somehow it disappeared.
      Yes, I think you are right - it totally makes sense for Posy to do the movie for that reason.
      And thanks for the kind words!

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  6. That is an interesting story about Moira Shearer and Ballet Shoes. I do get Sarah Ward’s newsletter, of course.

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    1. Newsletters are the way to go Tracy! And for Ballet Shoes fans it was hot news...

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  7. I love a ballet post, especially when it involves Ballet Shoes! What a fascinating story, and what an incredible co-incidence that Streatfeild's 'Posy' should grow up to become Moira Shearer, best known for her role in Red Shoes.

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    1. I know, this was one of my favourite posts of recent months because it combined so many things I love and was such a joy to do. And popular with readers too!

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