By Mark Logue and Peter Conradi
Having read Sarah Bradford's excellent George VI, I was nonetheless curious for more details about the King's stammer that has so recently captured popular interest. What better way to go about it than to turn to the account written by the King's speech therapist Lionel Logue's grandson, Mark Logue and biographer Peter Conradi. The recent film The King's Speech is largely based on the recently discovered diaries and letters of Lionel Logue, and this book is another product of that discovery.
No doubt much of the book's success is also due to the cinematic release. The book is much more about Logue than the King. We are treated to an account of Logue's early years in Australia before proceeding to the move with his family to Britain. Some of the most moving passages in the book are those regarding the relationship between Logue and his wife Myrtle. Those who have seen the film might be disappointed in this regard; the book does not provide much of a profile of the King's personality. For this I recommend Sarah Bradford's excellent biography. In fact, the personage of the King manifests itself for the reader in a way that it probably did for Logue. Unlike the impression conveyed in the film, the King and Logue were not as frank and friendly in their manner with each other. They certainly spent a great deal of time together, especially during the first couple of years of treatment, but later for example the King (then still the Duke of York) did not see Logue for two whole years in the 1930s.
When he became King, however, Logue did not leave his side until towards the end of the war. After that Logue always sent the King books for his birthday, and the King never neglected to send the Logues a Christmas card. Sometimes Logue joined the Royal Family for Christmas in Sandringham. There Logue met the Queen Mother (Queen Mary), who he thought was a most regal personage. Logue repeatedly commented on the charm and grace of Queen Elizabeth. The King was never forgotten in Logue's praises. Sometimes prospective patients asked if he was the man that cured the king's stammer, and following an affirmative response asked if they too could be cured. He replied yes, if you work as hard as the King.
While Logue's character is sketched well, the other principle persons remain two-dimensional and never really come to life. The book nonetheless is a singular account of Logue and his work based on freshly excavated historical material. It is not the best biography that I have read, but those interested in the topic will no doubt find it interesting.