Gracie Fields: The Authorised Biography (Robson Books & Aurum Press)

In her hey-day, Gracie Fields was one of the highest paid stars in the world. Appearing in a series of films which reflected the spirit of a troubled decade and cutting hundreds of superb recordings, she became an international legend and a national institution, always retaining what she called her 'common touch', the image that endeared her to millions.

In this the first full-length biography of Gracie, fully authorised by her family, David Bret reveals the real Gracie Fields - a complex woman far removed from the mill-girl-to-riches persona she conveyed to her adoring public - as seen by her family and closest friends.

Based on previously unplublished material, including Gracie's personal war diaries and private correspondence and featuring many first-hand interviews and unique photographs from the private archive of one one of Gracie's closest friends, in this fascinating book David Bret shows the other side of this enormously successful woman: her personal tragedies, her great bravery and her often extreme naivety. He also includes many startling revelations from Gracie's stepdaughter, Irene Bevan, who reveals, amongst much else, the truth behind Gracie's three failed marriages and the other romances in her life.

But despite the many revelations contained in this enthralling book, Bret tells Gracie's story with honesty and compassion, never denying her extraordinary talent, that indefatigable genius which enabled her to remain a daughter of the people for over half a century.

Dedication

"I would like to express my grateful thanks to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother for her personal messages of encouragement, and for her warm words of admiration for Gracie Fields."