From acclaimed biographer Paula Byrne, the sensational true tale that inspired the major motion picture Belle (May 2014) starring Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Emily Watson, Penelope Wilton, and Matthew Goode—a stunning story of the first mixed-race girl introduced to high society England and raised as a lady.
The illegitimate daughter of a captain in the Royal Navy and an enslaved African woman, Dido Belle was raised by her great-uncle, the Earl of Mansfield, one of the most powerful men of the time and a leading opponent of slavery. When the portrait he commissioned of his two wards, Dido and her white cousin, Elizabeth, was unveiled, eighteenth-century England was shocked to see a black woman and white woman depicted as equals. Inspired by the painting, Belle vividly brings to life this extraordinary woman caught between two worlds, and illuminates the great civil rights question of her age: the fight to end slavery.
The feature film Belle is produced by Damian Jones (The Iron Lady, The History Boys, Welcome to Sarajevo), written by Misan Sagay, and directed by Amma Asante, and stars the extraordinary Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Dido Belle, Tom Wilkinson, Sam Reid, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Tom Felton, Matthew Goode, and Emily Watson.