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In 1918, little known author Edith Winstanley Hull, a pig breeder’s wife from a little English village, pens a sensational novel – The Sheik – that eventually will rocket a struggling actor on the other side of the world to international stardom. The equivalent to Fifty Shades of Grey for the era, it was a racy and sumptuous tale about female sexuality, and dared to be bold in a time when women still wore ankle-long tunics. Playwright Jo Denver rediscovers the author, and captures the time with a lavish sense of humour in her latest full length play The Making of a Great Lover.
The novel was written by Edith Winstanley Hull to fill in the lonely hours while her husband is away at WW1,
and has a profound influence on young women in the English-speaking world – much to the disgust of the male population (and her husband) it scandalises, shocks and titillates all who read it.
Around the same time, a young aspiring actor of Italian descent, is trying to break into the new silent movie industry. His looks and culture are against him, until The Sheik is made into a movie. The novel shoots to the top of the best-seller list and the movie makes a star of the young actor, Rudolph Valentino, earning him the title of The Great Lover.
Photography by fotoflair.com.au
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