Research: Some of My Favorites Books

On July 28, 2011, I ordered a used book from Amazon called Pavlova: Portrait of a Dancer, by Margot Fonteyn. I’d always loved ballet, and decades ago had seen Fonteyn and Nureyev dance “Swan Lake”, so it was the author, not the subject, that initially caught my eye. Little did I know that it would be Anna Pavlova herself who would dance her way into my heart. Pavlova’s own 40-page essay, Pages of my Life, is sprinkled throughout the book along with Fonteyn’s own lively narrative and hundreds of rare and beautiful photographs.

Pavlova: Portrait of a Dancer bookI love to read almost as much as I love to sew, and I am much more likely to turn to books than the internet for research. Here are a few other books about Anna Pavlova that have helped me tell her story. These and so many more have been my constant companions throughout this project.

Anna Pavolva, Her Life and Art 

Keith Money, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1982

This 425-page encyclopedic work is my definitive source for events in Pavlova’s life. Packed with hundreds of photos, it is unfortunately written in a rather dry, uninspired style that makes it tedious to read straight through. But it is so crammed with facts that I can find just about anything I’m looking for somewhere in this impressive and comprehensive volume.

Anna Pavlova, 20th Century Ballerina

Jane Pritchard, with Caroline Hamilton, Booth-Clibborn Editions, United Kingdom, 2012

This very recent publication focuses mainly on Pavlova’s life and performances in Great Britain. For me its greatest value lies in its large and beautifully restored and reproduced photographs, indispensable as I figure out how to turn a black and white photo into a colorful, convincing three-dimensional scene.

Pavlova, Repertoire of a Legend

John and Roberta Lazzanni, Collier Macmillan, London, 1980

What a discovery this hard-to-find book was for me! In addition to many previously unseen photos of Pavlova’s entire dance repertoire, presented chronologically, it provides a bounty of information: the dates and places of each ballet’s premier, its composers, choreographers, and costume designers. An amazing Appendix with timeline has been indispensable. I am very indebted to this couple who founded The Pavlova Society in London and did so much to preserve letters and newspaper articles, programmes and ephemera, and what few of Pavlova’s costumes have survived to our own day.

Anna Pavlova

V. Dandre, Cassell and Company Limited, London, 1932

Written just a year after Pavlova’s death, this tribute by her life partner, Viktor Dandre, could have been the book that filled in all the gaps in Pavlova’s personal life. Her adoring public certainly wished this were so, as do all of us whohave since tried to complete her story. Though as a dancer she lived in the headlines and achieved worldwide celebrity, in her private life she remained