The English Governess at the Siamese Court cover

The English Governess at the Siamese Court

Anna Harriette Leonowens

1. 00 – Dedication and Preface
2. 01 – On the Threshold
3. 02 – A Siamese Premier at Home
4. 03 – A Sketch of Siamese History
5. 04 – His Excellency’s Harem and Helpmeet
6. 05 – The Temples of the Sleeping and the Emerald Idols
7. 06 – The King and the Governess
8. 07 – Marble Halls and Fish-Stalls
9. 08 – Our Home in Bangkok
10. 09 – Our School in the Palace
11. 10 – Moonshee and the Angel Gabriel
12. 11 – The Ways of the Palace
13. 12 – Shadows and Whispers of the Harem
14. 13 – Fa-Ying, the King’s Darling
15. 14 – An Outrage and a Warning
16. 15 – The City of Bangkok
17. 16 – The White Elephant
18. 17 – The Ceremonies of Coronation
19. 18 – The Queen Consort
20. 19 – The Heir-Apparent; Royal Hair-Cutting
21. 20 – Amusements of the Court
22. 21 – Siamese Literature and Art
23. 22 – Buddhist Doctrine, Priests, and Worship
24. 23 – Cremation
25. 24 – Certain Superstitions
26. 25 – The Subordinate King
27. 26 – The Supreme King: His Character and Administration, pt 1
28. 27 – The Supreme King: His Character and Administration pt 2
29. 28 – My Retirement from the Palace
30. 29 – The Kingdom of Siam
31. 30 – The Ruins of Cambodia; An Excursion to the Naghkon Watt
32. 31 – The Legend of the Maha Naghkon

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1862 Anna Leonowens accepted an offer made by the Siamese consul in Singapore, Tan Kim Ching, to teach the wives and children of Mongkut, king of Siam. The king wished to give his 39 wives and concubines and 82 children a modern Western education on scientific secular lines, which earlier missionaries’ wives had not provided. Leonowens sent her daughter Avis to school in England, and took her son Louis with her to Bangkok. She succeeded Dan Beach Bradley, an American missionary, as teacher to the Siamese court. Leonowens served at court until 1867, a period of nearly six years, first as a teacher and later as language secretary for the king. Although her position carried great respect and even a degree of political influence, she did not find the terms and conditions of her employment to her satisfaction, and came to be regarded by the king himself as a rather difficult woman. In 1868 Leonowens was on leave for her health in England and had been negotiating a return to the court on better terms when Mongkut fell ill and died. The king mentioned Leonowens and her son in his will, though they did not receive the legacy. The new monarch, fifteen-year-old Chulalongkorn, who succeeded his father, wrote Leonowens a warm letter of thanks for her services. By 1869 Leonowens was in New York, and began contributing travel articles to a Boston journal, Atlantic Monthly, including ‘The Favorite of the Harem’, reviewed by the New York Times as ‘an Eastern love story, having apparently a strong basis of truth’.She expanded her articles into two volumes of memoirs, beginning with The English Governess at the Siamese Court (1870), which earned her immediate fame but also brought charges of sensationalism. In her writing she casts a critical eye over court life; the account is not always a flattering one, and has become the subject of controversy in Thailand; she has also been accused of exaggerating her influence with the king.”