English Governess at the Siamese Court
Anna Harriette Leonowens

Book cover image

Narrated By: Wanda McCaddon

Duration: 10 hours and 17 minutes

What to expect

This 1870 memoir, which was the basis for the musical The King and I, vividly recounts the experiences of Anna Harriette Leonowens, who served as a governess for the sixty-plus children of King Mongkut of Siam and as translator and scribe for the King himself. Bright, young, and energetic, Leonowens was well-suited to her role, and her writings convey a heartfelt interest in the lives, legends, and languages of Siam’s rich and poor.

She also tells of how she and the king often disagreed on matters domestic—this was the first time King Mongkut had met a woman who dared to contradict him, and the governess found the very idea of male domination intolerable. Her exchanges with His Majesty on topics like grammar, charity, slavery, politics, and religion add much to her diary’s rich, cross-cultural spirit and its East-meets-West appeal.


Biography: general, Education, Biography: general, Biography: historical, political and military, Biography: general, Gender studies: women and girls, Asian history, Asian history

Listen to a sample

“[Wanda McCaddon] has a lovely voice and she brings to the reading an exuberance that matches Anna’s writing style exactly. I was particularly pleased at [McCaddon’s] ability to pronounce the various Siamese names accurately and seamlessly.”

Large Print Reviews

“Recounts of and interactions with the royal family are delightful…[McCaddon] keeps her tone light and humorous.”


“[McCaddon’s] expressive reading breathes life into [The English Governess at the Siamese Court].”