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Synopsis

Fifty years ago, Kathleen Ferrier, the greatest lyric contralto Britain has ever produced, lost her courageous battle with breast cancer. Her name endures to this day, for she struck a chord with a wide-ranging public - in concerts, on records and on the radio - despite a career which lasted barely ten years. Within a decade this former telephone exchange operator was singing on stage at Covent Garden or before royalty at private parties. She was surely fun to know: this collection of 300+ letters and twelve years of her personal diaries give a sunny picture of her life in the muted post-war years.

Her indefinable personality was a mix of extreme modesty and self-determined ambition, and a mischievously blunt sense of earthy Lancastrian humour. Until now, Kathleen Ferrier has been a glorious voice, but through the pages of these fascinating letters and diaries, never previously published, we get to the real person.

CHRISTOPHER FIFIELD is foremost a conductor, butalso a writer on music history (Grove, DNB, Viking Opera Guide, Oxford Companion to Music), and the author of two biographies, of Max Bruch (recently reissued by the Boydell Press) and Hans Richter.

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