Paula byrne-web
Paula Byrne

Paula Byrne

English Heritage Lecture – Belle: The True Story of Dido Belle

Sunday 28 September 2014

1 Hour


Blenheim Palace: The Marlborough Room



Ticket price

Bestselling writer Paula Byrne tells the true story of Dido Belle, inspiration for the major new Hollywood movie, Belle, released this summer and starring Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, Miranda Richardson and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

Dido Elizabeth Belle was the first mixed-race English aristocrat, brought up in 18th-century society as the adopted daughter of Lord Mansfield, the Lord Chief Justice of England, at his home, Kenwood House, Hampstead. Kenwood House recently reopened after a £6m restoration by English Heritage.

Dido Belle was the illegitimate daughter of a Royal Navy captain and a slave woman. Her adoptive father presided over the notorious Zong case of the drowning of 132 slaves by a shipping company, which provided the legal underpinning to the abolition of slavery in Britain. Byrne tells the story of a family that defied convention, of the trial that exposed the cruelties of slavery and of a woman who challenged ideas of race at the highest level.
Byrne has written several books, including the bestselling The Real Jane Austen and Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead.

Presented by English Heritage.