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Julie Andrews (1935-)


Although she is best known as a singer and actress, star of such musical films as Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, in recent years Julie Andrews has become a prolific children's book writer under the name Julie Andrews Edwards. Andrews began her career in show business as a child, performing in her mother and stepfather's vaudeville shows. She soon graduated to performing on her own in pantomimes, performances of fairy tales and other classic stories for children that were popular in Britain at that time. Her tremendous, four-octave vocal range was recognized early, and by the time she was a teenager Andrews was much sought-after as a stage entertainer. At the age of eighteen, she signed on to perform in her first Broadway musical, The Boy Friend, which opened September 30, 1954, one day before her nineteenth birthday.

Andrews made several other successful turns on stage in the following years. She played the lead role of Eliza Ten-year-old parentless Mandy sneaks out of the orphanage and refurbishes a small cottage in the woods to be her new, secret home. (From Mandy, written by Julie Edwards and illustrated by Judith Gwyn Brown.) in My Fair Lady for over three years, first on Broadway and then in London, and then starred as Guinevere in Camelot. After being passed over for the role of Eliza in the film version of My Fair Lady (the role went to Audrey Hepburn), Andrews starred in another film, as the cheerful, magical governess Mary Poppins. She won a best actress Oscar and Golden Globe for the film. The next year, Andrews starred in another award-winning film, The Sound of Music, which garnered her a second Golden Globe and became one of the highest-grossing films of all time.

Throughout the 1960s, Andrews appeared in one more highly-acclaimed film, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and several less-successful works. In 1969, she married her second husband, director Blake Edwards. With children from her and her new husband's prior marriages, as well as two girls adopted from Vietnam in 1975, Andrews began to spend more time at home with them and less time singing and acting. During this period, Andrews wrote her first two children's books, Mandy and The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles, under the name Julie Edwards. She wrote the first story after losing a bet with her stepdaughter, who demanded that Andrews write her a story in payment. The latter book was inspired by a trip to the dictionary. "I was looking up a word, and suddenly I saw 'Whangdoodle,'" Andrews once commented. "I thought to myself, that's a sensational word, and the title of my book occurred to me immediately. Once I started writing, I enjoyed myself so much I couldn't wait to get back to Whangdoodleland every day. My own children became as involved as I was, and naturally there is a lot of them in Lindy, Tom, and Ben."

Andrews also received much acclaim for her work in Victor/Victoria, a film directed by Edwards, about an opera singer who pretends to be a male transvestite when she is having trouble landing roles as a woman. In the late 1990s, Andrews played Victor/Victoria on Broadway, a role which earned her a third Tony Award nomination. (Andrews refused the nomination to protest the fact that no one else involved with the musical was nominated.) Andrews' return to Broadway came to an abrupt end in 1997, when surgery to remove a benign polyp from her vocal cords went wrong. Although her voice has been much diminished, Andrews has continued to act in films in roles that do not require her to sing or otherwise strain her voice, including a popular performance as Queen Clarisse Renaldi in the 2001 The Princess Diaries and its 2004 sequel, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.

In the late 1990s Andrews returned to the world of children's literature, writing the first two books in a series about Bonnie Boadicea, a kitten nicknamed "Little Bo." Bo's father names her, the smallest of the litter, after an ancient British warrior queen who fought the Roman invasion two thousand years ago. Although Bo and her littermates are due to be drowned, they escape, and Bo finds a home on a ship with a sailor named Billy. In Little Bo: The Story of Bonnie Boadicea and its sequel, Little Bo in France: The Further Adventures of Bonnie Boadicea, Bo and Billy share a series of adventures. "The atmosphere is agreeable throughout," Michael Cart wrote of Little Bo in Booklist, and a Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded about the same work that "children will come away with the moral that, like Bo, their size may be small, but they can accomplish big things."

Andrews has also partnered with her daughter from her first marriage, Emma Walton Hamilton, in several other works. Together the two have penned a series of books about Dumpy, a child-like, anthropomorphic dump truck. In the first book in the series, Dumpy the Dumptruck, a young boy named Charlie convinces his grandfather not to junk a run-down old truck. Instead, the two fix him up and return him to service. In the second volume, Dumpy at School, Charlie and the truck bond over their anxiety about their first day at school, Charlie as a student, Dumpy as a member of the crew building the new playground. School Library Journal critic Martha Link thought that the books' stories were "slight," but praised their "colorful onomatopoeia" in a review of Dumpy the Dump Truck and Dumpy at School. To a Publishers Weekly contributor, one notable feature of Dumpy the Dump Truck was its "retro look and feel, [which] harks back to times when townspeople knew one another's names and things were not so disposable." The books are illustrated by Tony Walton, Andrews' first husband, an acclaimed Broadway set designer.

In 2003, HarperCollins announced the formation of its first ever celebrity imprint, "The Julie Andrews Collection." All of the books published under the imprint will be personally approved by Andrews, and some, including its first title, will be written by her. Coauthored by Hamilton, Simeon's Gift, the first book published by the imprint, is about a poor young musician during the Renaissance. In love with a noblewoman named Sorrel, Simeon sets out to compose the perfect song for her. In search of inspiration, he goes traveling, and as he wanders, he hears music in the noises around him: the marching of soldiers, the chanting of monks, the sounds of the city and the country. Overwhelmed by all of the new things he hears, Simeon wants nothing more than to go home. He sells his lute to buy a boat and turns toward Sorrel, rescuing a fish, bird, and fawn along the way. Inspired by his interactions with these creatures, he fashions himself a flute out of a reed and plays Sorrel a beautiful song that he has composed, winning her heart.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Arntz, James, and Thomas S. Wilson, Julie Andrews, foreword by Carol Burnett, Contemporary Books (Chicago, IL), 1996.

Contemporary Musicians, Volume 33, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.

Cottrell, John, Julie Andrews: The Story of a Star, Mayflower (London, England), 1968.

Hopkins, Lee Bennett, More Books by More People: Interviews with Sixty-five Authors of Books for Children, Citation Press (New York, NY), 1974.

International Directory of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

Newsmakers, Issue 1, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1996.

Windeler, Robert, Julie Andrews, 1970, revised edition published as Julie Andrews: A Biography, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1982.

Windeler, Robert, Julie Andrews: A Life on Stage and Screen, Thorndike Press (Thorndike, ME), 1997.


Back Stage, September 14, 2001, Mike Salinas, "Kennedy Center Awards Go to Andrews, Nicholson," p. 6.

Booklist, February 15, 2000, Michael Cart, review of Little Bo: The Story of Bonnie Boadicea, p. 1112; December 1, 2002, Kathy Broderick, review of Dumpy and the Big Storm, p. 673.

Christian Science Monitor, November 11, 1971.

Family Circle, July 10, 2001, Glen Plaskin, interview with Andrews, pp. 28-29.

Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2003, review of Simeon's Gift, p. 1310.

M2 Best Books, November 3, 2003, "Julie Andrews Launches New Imprint with HarperCollins."

People, May 27, 1996, "Victor Victorious," p. 88; December 13, 1999, "Missing Melodies: Julie Andrews, Her Singing Voice Stilled, Keeps on Trouping as an Actress," p. 175.

Publishers Weekly, November 1, 1999, review of Little Bo, p. 84; September 11, 2000, Jennifer M. Brown, "Julie Andrews Edwards," p. 32; September 25, 2000, review of Dumpy the Dump Truck, p. 115; August 27, 2001, John F. Baker, "Julie Andrews Edwards," p. 13; April 8, 2002, review of Little Bo in France: The Further Adventures of Bonnie Boadicea, pp. 229-230; October 27, 2003, review of Simeon's Gift, p. 68; November 3, 2003, Steve Anable, "Busy Brit," p. 23.

Saturday Evening Post, May-June, 1996, Earl L. Conn, interview with Andrews, pp. 36-40.

School Library Journal, December, 1999, Lee Bock, review of Little Bo, p. 94; April, 2001, Martha Link, review of Dumpy the Dump Truck and Dumpy at School, p. 106; October, 2002, Linda M. Kenton, review of Little Bo in France, p. 103; November, 2003, Rosalyn Pierini, review of Simeon's Gift, p. 91.

Time, May 20, 1996, Belinda Luscombe, "You Can Take This Nomination and . . .," p. 81; October 16, 2000, Evan Levy, review of Dumpy the Dump Truck, p. F20.

Time for Kids, October 24, 2003, Carson Satterfield, interview with Andrews, p. 8.

Variety, September 24, 2001, Richard Natale, "Julie Andrews Resonates in Seventh Showbiz Decade," p. 60.


Internet Broadway Database, http://www.ibdb.com/ (April 12, 2004), "Julie Andrews."

Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/ (April 12, 2004), "Julie Andrews."*

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: (Hugo) Alvar (Henrik) Aalto (1898–1976) Biography to Miguel Angel Asturias (1899–1974) BiographyJulie Andrews (1935-) Biography - Personal, Career, Awards, Honors, Sidelights - Addresses, Member, Writings, Work in Progress