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7 books you must read if you love Audrey Hepburn

My torrid love affair with Audrey Hepburn began when I was 2 years old. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother because both my parents worked. Like Melissa Hellstern says in "How to be Lovely", a grandmother is the best teacher a little girl can have. My own grandmother was not an exception to this.


We used to watch movies togerher. The Wizard of Oz was an instant favorite. The Sound of the Music enchanted be with its magic, too. But My Fair Lady had something special. Something different. I became enamoured with the girl that sold flowers in Tottenham Court Road. I would watch the movie over and over again, and I'd never tire (my grandmother and my parents, however, did). I was a toddler, and yet I had already decided who would be my favourite actress, role model and inspiration for the rest of my life.


When I was old enough to ask questions, I learnt that Audrey had passed away in January 1993, eight months after I was born. We existed in the same time and space briefly, and that is something that brings me an odd sense of happiness and comfort every time I think about it. 


My mother told me that Audrey had spent the last years of her life doing humanitarian work and fighting for children's rights. I became interested in her other films, her life, her career, and in her as a person. My curiosity about Audrey was endless. My thirst for information never sated. Hers was the first name I searched when we got internet at our home, and I would spend several hours trying to find every and any scrap of information that existed about her, my unsung hero. My mother always encouraged this, and she would do the impossible to help me get my hands on other movies Audrey had been in, which in Argentina were impossible to find at the time. 


I was 14 the first time I bought a book about Audrey. I had to order it from a bookshop in Spain, and it was worth the small fortune I paid for it (it wasn't actually expensive, but remember I was 14 at the time. I didn't have a job, I just had the savings of a secondary school student, and I spent them all on that book).   


I was allowed to miss school the day the book arrived. I spent all that day reading from its pages, handling it with the upmost care. An obsession was born that Thursday afternoon. An addiction of sorts. Every book about Audrey, every single thing written about her and printed on paper, I had to have them all. 


Eleven years have passed since I bought my first book about Audrey Hepburn. I am now the proud of owner of her entire movie collection, and the books about her I've purchased in this time are enough to fill two long rows in my bookshelf. Some I got in Argentina, some I ordered online from bookshops in Europe and the US, some I bought personally when I travelled abroad. Here I've put together a sellection of my personal favourite, the ones I recommend the most if you, like me, are absolutely in love with the woman that she was and will always be (even long after she's gone).



Audrey Hepburn, an Elegant Spirit

Now in paperback, an intimate look at the woman the world adored, by the son who adored her with unique photos, drawings, and other rare Audrey memorabilia. She dazzled millions as Gigi. Eliza Doolittle. Holly Golightly. But to her most adoring fan, Audrey Hepburn was best known for her role as "Mummy." In this heartfelt tribute to his mother, Sean Hepburn Ferrer offers a rare and intimate glimpse into the life of one of Hollywood's brightest stars. "Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit" is a stunning compilation of nearly 300 photographs, many straight from the family album and never before published; archival documents, personal correspondence, and mementos; even paintings and illustrations from the actress herself. Sean tells Audrey Hepburn's remarkable story, from her childhood in war-torn Holland to the height of her fame to her autumn years far from the camera and the crush of the paparazzi. Sean introduces us to someone whose grace, charm, and beauty were matched only by her insecurity about her appearance and talent, and who used her hard-won recognition as a means to help children less fortunate than her own. With this unique biography, Sean celebrates his mother's history and humanity--and continues her charitable work by donating proceeds from this book to the Audrey Hepburn Children's Fund.

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Bob Willoughby. Audrey Hepburn. Photographs 1953-1966

Our Fair Lady. The many facets of Hepburn's beauty, on and off set. In his distinguished career as a Hollywood photographer, Bob Willoughby took iconic photos of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Fonda, but remains unequivocal about his favorite subject: Audrey Kathleen Ruston, later Edda van Heemstra Hepburn-Ruston, best known as Audrey Hepburn. Willoughby was called in to shoot the new starlet one morning shortly after she arrived in Hollywood in 1953. It was a humdrum commission for the portraitist often credited with having perfected the photojournalistic movie still, but when he met the Belgian-born beauty, Willoughby was enraptured. "She took my hand like...well a princess, and dazzled me with that smile that God designed to melt mortal men's hearts," he recalled. As Hepburn's career soared following her Oscar-winning US debut in Roman Holiday, Willoughby became a trusted friend, framing her working and home life. His historic, perfectionist, tender photographs seek out the many facets of Hepburn's beauty and elegance, as she progresses from her debut to her career high of My Fair Lady in 1963. Willoughby's studies, showing her on set, preparing for a scene, interacting with actors and directors, and returning to her private life, comprise one of photography's great platonic love affairs and an unrivalled record of one of the 20th century's touchstone beauties.

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Audrey in Rome

During the twenty years that she lived in Rome, Audrey Hepburn-legendary actress, fashion icon, and humanitarian-was the epitome of chic European style, from her little black dresses to her ballet flats. Her partnership with designer Hubert de Givenchy resulted in some of the most memorable and timeless looks on film.Audrey in Rome is a gorgeous coffee table book that includes almost 200 candid photographs of the movie star--many of which have never been published before. These rare snapshots give us glimpses into the everyday life of the gamine star of such classic films as Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Sabrina.Edited by her son, Luca Dotti, and Ludovica Damiani, film and theater writer and producer, and with text by fashion director and stylist Sciascia Gambaccini, Audrey in Rome is as personal as having Audrey Hepburn's family scrapbook in your hands.

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Audrey at Home

New York Times BestsellerEnter Audrey Hepburn's private world in this unique New York Times bestselling biography compiled by her son that combines recollections, anecdotes, excerpts from her personal correspondence, drawings, and recipes for her favorite dishes written in her own hand, and more than 250 previously unpublished personal family photographs.Audrey at Home offers fans an unprecedented look at the legendary star, bringing together the varied aspects of her life through the food she loved-from her childhood in Holland during World War II, to her time in Hollywood as an actress and in Rome as a wife and mother, to her final years as a philanthropist traveling the world for UNICEF.Here are fifty recipes that reflect Audrey's life, set in the context of a specific time, including Chocolate Cake with Whipped Cream-a celebration of liberation in Holland at the end of the war; Penne alla Vodka-a favorite home-away-from-home dish in Hollywood; Turkish-style Sea Bass-her romance with and subsequent marriage to Andrea Dotti; Boeuf a la Cuillere-Givenchy's favorite dish, which she'd prepare when he'd visit her in Switzerland; and Mousse au Chocolat-dinner at the White House. Audrey also loved the basics: Spaghetti al Pomodoro was an all-time favorite, particularly when returning home from her travels, as was a dish of good vanilla ice cream. Each recipe is accompanied by step-by-step instructions, including variations and preparation tips, anecdotes about Audrey and her life, and a poignant collection of photographs and memorabilia.Audrey at Home is a personal scrapbook of Audrey's world and the things she loved best-her children, her friends, her pets. It is a life that unfolds through food, photographs, and intimate vignettes in a sophisticated and lovely book that is a must for Audrey Hepburn fans and food lovers.

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Charmed by Audrey

In 1953, Paramount was making a film with a new actress named Audrey Hepburn. Life magazine assigned one of its top young photographers, Mark Shaw, to shoot a feature, and he spent weeks with the star on and around the set. Shaw's extraordinary level of access resulted in an amazing array of photos and over 60 rolls of film that captured the budding ingenue's charm and grace on set and in everyday life. The images chronicled Hepburn waking up at home, having her hair washed at the beauty parlor, reading, relaxing, studying the script, chatting with her costars and director Billy Wilder, and acting in one of her most famous roles. Through the handful of photographs published in Life for the Sabrina article have become iconic images of Hepburn, the majority of the negatives were misplaced and never published. Rediscovered 50 years later, these photographs offer a stunning visual biography of Hepburn's youth and rising star.

Did these books satisfy my curiosity about Audrey Hepburn? The answer I have for this question is ambiguous, at best. Yes, I have learned a lot about who she was- her life, her family, her childhood in Europe, the stories behind the scenes, her love affairs, the happiness and the suffering. But my curiosity will never be satisfied in its entirety. I will always want to know more, and there will always be a new book I'll be aching to get my hands on. 

I guess that when it comes to Audrey Hepburn, I will always be that 14 year old girl asking her mother if she could skip school to stay at home and read a book about her very first role model.

Bilingual (Spanish and English) creative writer and editor with a BA in Publishing and Editing from the University of Buenos Aires.