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A unique memoir about ballet, the second world war and a peerless group of dancers; an irresistible read for all ballet lovers

London during the Blitz was a time of hardship, heroism and hope.

For Gillian Lynne – a budding ballerina – it was also a time of great change as she was evacuated from war-torn London to a crumbling mansion, where dance classes took place in the faded ballroom.

Life was hard, but her talent and dedication shone through and an astonishing journey ensued, which saw Gillian dancing a triumphant debut in Swan Lake, performing in the West End with doodlebugs falling and touring a devastated Europe entertaining the troops.

A Dancer in Wartime paints a vivid and moving picture of what life was really like during the hard years of the Blitz and brings to life a lost world.


Gillian's journey through dance is a story of passion and devotion that should be read by everyone, not just dance lovers

Arlene Phillips

A beautiful tale of heartbreak, talent, determination and star quality

Daily Mail

Wonderfully nostalgic and magical

Easy Living

A charming and affecting memoir

Sunday Express, Books of the Year

An extraordinary tale

Sarah Crompton, Daily Telegraph

From the Blitz to Sadler's Wells, this is a charming portrait of passion and dedication, set against the difficulties of war

Woman & Home

A captivating story beautifully told ... and what an inspiration for anyone who dreams of a life on the stage

Cat Deeley

Dance historians will be as charmed by this sidelight on dance as ambitious girls will be inspired by Lynne's description of the dancer's life as an amalgam of "the Impossible and the Spiritual all wrapped up with a ribbon of passion

Iain Finlayson, The Times

Sincere and unpretentious... She paints [...] a picture of austerity Britain in which ballet was a supremely glamorous career path.

Rupert Christiansen, Literary Review

A charming and moving portrait of a wartime childhood and an extraordinary account of what it takes to make it on stage ... I couldn't put it down

Elaine Paige

An intriguing and moving account of a young girl's balletic ambitions during wartime. Wonderfully readable, spirited and honest

Derek Jacobi

I loved this book ... her energy, enthusiasm and passion are present in every line, and her commitment to the theatre and her determination to excel make for a fascinating and thoroughly absorbing read.

Dame Monica Mason, Director of the Royal Ballet

This is a remarkable book which I read overnight. It's gripping, touching, eye-opening and pitch perfect about a period of time almost lost from view. Gillian Lynne's tenacity's palpable from the outset. Definitely one to savour and treasure.

Gloria Hunniford

In A Dancer in Wartime, Gillian Lynne canters through her amazing experiences like the thoroughbred she is

Sir Ian McKellen

A warm, affectionate portrait of the ballet world, and of success tinged with sadness

Sally Morris, Daily Mail



A captivating story beautifully told ... and what an inspiration for anyone who dreams of a life on the stage

Cat Deeley

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    January 16, 2013


    304 pages

    RRP $22.99

    Online retailers

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    November 8, 2012

    Vintage Digital

    304 pages

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