Elsa Lanchester, Herself

Elsa Lanchester, Herself
Elsa Lanchester, Herself

Elsa Lanchester, Herself

By Elsa Lanchester, Foreword by Mara Wilson


368 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $19.99 (CA $25.99) (US $19.99)

ISBN 9780912777832

Rights: US & CA

Chicago Review Press (Apr 2018)

Price: $19.99
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The fascinating life story of a prolific artist and liberated woman
Being known as “The Bride of Frankenstein” is an unusual form of fame, but for Elsa Lanchester the unusual came naturally. Born to radical socialist parents, Elsa attended an all-boys school and later “studied” in Paris with dance pioneer Isadora Duncan. At 17, she opened her own theater, which was frequented by writers such as H. G. Wells, Aldous Huxley, and Evelyn Waugh. She began performing with and then fell in love with a brilliant young actor named Charles Laughton. Soon after their marriage he revealed his homosexuality. Though it made their union shaky at times, it did not overshadow their common love of art, music, and nature, and their marriage endured for 36 years until Laughton’s death. Elsa Lanchester, Herself presents the story of a woman ahead of her time: independent, iconoclastic, liberated. It is the chronicle of a life filled with famous people (from Bertolt Brecht to Henry Fonda), and of a career that spanned almost seven decades. It is also a warm, truthful account of a very special marriage. Witty and wise, Elsa Lanchester’s account of her life and times is a delight.


“A book every actor should read.” —Mara Wilson, from her foreword

“The story of a remarkable woman and even more remarkable marriage, told in an engaging, straightforward, unaffected style.” —Publishers Weekly

“A wise, witty and at times deeply touching autobiographical account of the life of the English gamine who grew up to be one of Hollywood’s most delightful comediennes and the wife of one of its greatest, and most tortured, actors. Elsa Lanchester tells without fear or favor how she and Charles Laughton managed—and ultimately came to rely upon and take refuge in—the uneasy marriage that Charles’ homosexuality placed in jeopardy almost from the day it began. Here are all the fascinating people Elsa associated with in the course of her fabulous career—and the unflinching record of the unbreakable strength that permitted one who accurately describes herself as ‘a survivor’ to create for herself an individual life and career that have given her a permanent place in the list of filmdom’s greatest actresses.” —Allen Drury, author of Advise and Consent

“A very special person tells a special tale of an extraordinarily special life and she tells it brilliantly in her own special way.” —Vincent Price

“Reading Elsa Lanchester, Herself allowed me to have a renewed interest and respect for the talented actress who will forever be a part of the beloved Universal Monsters and their continuing popularity.” —Pop Culture Guy

Author Biography

While best known as the Bride of Frankenstein, Elsa Lanchester (1902–1986) also played Anne of Cleves in The Private Life of Henry VIII, and was twice nominated for the Academy Awards as Best Supporting Actress. She played Katie Nanna in Mary Poppins and was unforgettable as the eccentric painter in The Big Clock and the British cleaning lady who tries to kill Hitler in Passport to Destiny. She also had an extremely distinguished stage career. Mara Wilson is an actor, playwright, and author of Where Am I Now?