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(Credit: Paramount-photo by Bud Fraker)

Film

Audrey Hepburn's favourite book of all-time

@Russellisation

With an almost ethereal beauty and allure, Audrey Hepburn remains a powerful icon of popular culture despite having passed away over 25 years ago in 1993. A style icon, influential actor and humanitarian, Hepburn is best known in contemporary culture as the star of the 1961 Hollywood classic, Breakfast at Tiffany’s that would catapult the actor to international acclaim in the mid-20th century. 

Enduring the hardships of WWII in the Netherlands during the early part of her life, once the war had ended in 1945, Audrey Hepburn moved with her mother and her siblings to Amsterdam where she began life on the stage as a ballet dancer. With a total lack of fortune thanks to the woes of the war, Hepburn worked hard to support her family, appearing in a film debut of sorts in 1948 when she appeared as an air stewardess in the educational travel film Dutch in Seven Lessons. 

Slowly working her way up the industry, Hepburn accepted a ballet scholarship in London though quickly dropped the talent after her career in the art was deemed unattainable due to her height and weak constitution. Focusing instead on acting, Hepburn appeared as a chorus girl in the West End musical High Button Shoes among several other productions in her hunt for Hollywood stardom. 

This tenacious persistence would help Audrey Hepburn to become such an iconic figure of influence during the remainder of the 20th century, with her mere image conveying a certain sophistication and class that Hollywood embodied in the 1950s and ’60s. Such evocative characteristics led the actor to be considered third among the Greatest Female Stars of All Time according to the American Film Institute (AFI).  

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Carrying an enduring air of elegance, she represented more than just a talented movie actor, with many even considering her performances to be consistently weak in comparison with her Hollywood peers. Instead, it was the icon’s power as a graceful figure of sophistication that garnered her attention, carrying a certain poise of class that would long be remembered in human history. 

Unlike contemporary film stars, however, the actor was humble and modest, disinterested with the value of fame whilst using her position to bring light to certain humanitarian campaigns. As a result, many who celebrate Hepburn know her as a composed, serene individual who was a great lover of the arts, specifically literature. Often listing her favourite novels, it was Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden that consistently took the top spot.

A fantasy tale following a neglected 10-year-old girl who discovers a magical garden hidden on her uncle’s estate, the book has been adapted for the screen many times, including in 1993 and most recently in 2020. Directed by Marc Munden, the latest adaptation of the classic tale stars Dixie Egerickx, Julie Walters, Tommy Gene Surridge, Colin Firth and Richard Hansell, bringing Audrey Hepburn’s favourite novel to life with modern flair.

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