I imagine that most of you are aware that a new biography has been published on Dame Shirley. Entitled ‘Miss Shirley Bassey’ and written by John Williams it covers Shirley’s early life and rise to international stardom by the year 1967.
This book has already courted controversy in the press. Yes it does reveal the terrible truth of her natural father and the fact he was deported in 1943 back to Nigeria after he had served his sentence for the crime which he was convicted of. There are also facts given regarding her mother which Dame Shirley has never spoken of. The author states these facts but does not use them for sensationalism or dwell on them. The book also reveals the extreme poverty in which Dame Shirley was brought up in and the struggles her family endured. It charts how against all odds she worked hard and her determination to get to the very top paid off. It wasn’t an easy road at all and in all honesty although Dame Shirley says it was hard she never really stresses just how difficult it was. It is obviously well researched and I’m pleased I have read it. I will read it again in a few days as with all things new I didn’t take it all in on the first read.
When I had finished the book my admiration for Dame Shirley had increased if that is possible. To achieve what she had by the time the book ends in 1967 at the early age of 30 years is incredible considering the kind of background she was brought up in. Some fans have already condemned it without even reading it. None of the book reflects badly on Dame Shirley and it is obvious that the author’s admiration of her increases as the book progresses. John Williams has written of things Dame Shirley probably would rather not be in the public eye but it’s all there on public record anyway. So often we fans have said that the other two books published about Shirley were a waste of time and her upbringing was white washed over and now someone has researched the facts and written about them fans are complaining. Has reading this book made me think any less of Dame Shirley? The answer is a resounding NO! Dame Shirley reached the very top and has stayed there and for that she is one remarkable woman. This book underlines the struggles she had to endure to get there.