SHEILA FLORANCE – ON THE INSIDE News Update

July 5, 2016

 

I find that spiritual knowledge and understanding sits somewhere near the heart of anything I write, including my biography of Sheila Florance. It’s not at all a ‘spiritual book’, yet when undertaking the task, I found myself seeking the spirit of Sheila. This is why I wrote that her story was my attempt to ‘discover that spirit, which during her life imbued the many roles she played on stage and off, yet which also endures and touches upon eternity.’

 

I believe this enduring quality has meant, so many years after her death, that people still love Sheila, from her friends who knew her in all her quixotic moods, to the Lizzie-Sheila fans world-wide, who saw her vibrant life force expressed in the cantankerous, delightful character she developed with such care.

 

Here’s the latest news

 

The e-book has been available for some weeks on my website. Now the print book is on the way. Proofs have been proofed; images have been inserted; layout has been approved and the books are being printed.

 

There will be both paperback and hardcover versions.

 

I will have [a limited number of] copies for sale on my website, if you would like a ‘signed by the author’ copy, you can pre-order here: helenmartineauauthor@gmail.com

 

Meanwhile I thought you might like a little anecdote that is not in the book

  

On my first meeting with Sheila.

 

I was an impressionable seventeen-year-old keenly interested in following a career in the arts. My new boyfriend Peter Oyston took me into the ABC television studios to meet his mother who was working as a floor manager there. I knew she was an actress, a kind of alien species I had never encountered except in the movies, and I was nervous, expecting someone formidable.

 

My first impression was of the usual middle-aged mum – a bit dowdy with a boring middle-aged woman’s permed hairdo (it was done that way for a play apparently). She didn’t appear one bit unusual.

 

Then, ‘Hello dear,’ Sheila said sweetly as one does to little children. ‘Would you like a glass of milk?’ A horrified Peter whispered, ‘Sheil, she’s seventeen.’ (Sheil? I thought, I couldn’t imagine calling my mother by her given name).

 

In response to her son, the extraordinary Sheila Florance screeched, threw her head back and burst into ripples of very loud laughter.  And this being Sheila, for a long time afterwards the story of her faux pas grew in the telling, accompanied by her Niagara Falls laugh. Even long after Peter and I were married she continued to act out how she mistook her ‘Helenka’ for a child.

 

I also had the opportunity to experience Sheila’s strong work ethic and her nurturing qualities, when as a dancer a few months later I performed in those same ABC studios. It wasn’t only because of Peter that I joined the many young people who soaked up the excitement of her bohemian household.

 

 

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