Mongkut and I

Ruth Bernard Yeazell

  • The Romance of the Harem by Anna Leonowens, edited by Susan Morgan
    Virginia, 285 pp, £10.50, August 1991, ISBN 0 8139 1328 4

In Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, The King and I, the English governess quarrels with her royal employer over his refusal to provide her with a separate house, outside the harem walls. Alone in her room afterwards, Anna takes her revenge with a spirited patter song, indignantly denouncing the King as a ‘conceited, self-indulgent libertine’ and seizing the occasion to inform him in – absentia – of ‘certain goings on around this place/That I wish to tell you I do not admire.’

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