Leslie Howard: About this blog
Leslie Howard (1893-1943) was a great stage and film actor, director and producer.
New generations know him mainly as Ashley Wilkes, his character in Gone with the Wind. But Leslie played a number of more interesting and challenging screen parts and was also a Broadway star. Unfortunately, his career was too short: he was only 50 when the aircraft he was on board was shot down by the Germans over the Bay of Biscay on the 1st of June 1943.
Though there are still many Leslie Howard fans all over the world, this blog is not intended just for them. Rather, its purpose is to help keep alive the memory of this clever, sophisticated and sensitive man and to introduce his life and personality, so complex and interesting, to a new generation.
Leslie Howard did not write an autobiography. For many years, the only sources of information about his life and career were the biographical books written after his death by his daughter Leslie Ruth and son Ronald. More recently, Estel Eforgan’s 2010 biography, by seeing beyond the public image so carefully crafted by film studio publicity departments, and by debunking some of the many myths surrounding him, has started to unveil the real Leslie Howard. But still a thick curtain of gossip and rumour, of dubious anecdotes and word-of-mouth history, stands in the way of a full understanding of his true personality.
Much serious research work remains to be done. Unfortunately, the Howard family did not establish a foundation to preserve Leslie’s legacy and no cultural institution, in England or elsewhere, has taken the initiative to protect his memory and reputation from often ill-informed speculation. Sadly, a good deal of the documentation pertaining to his life has fallen into the hands of private collectors, making it unavailable to researchers, other than through their goodwill. Some may never become available again. Despite this, I hope for better times – for a new, more generous, open-hearted awareness to arise. So great a man deserves no less.
Italian is my native language. I’m doing my best to write these pages in English, but I’m well aware of the poor quality of my writing.