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The Life in My Years (Paperback)

The Life in My Years (Paperback)

Virginia McKenna

Oberon Books

Virginia McKenna starred in some of the most popular and enduring movies of our time, among them Carve Her Name With Pride, A Town Like Alice and the phenomenally successful Born Free, in which she and husband Bill Travers depicted the story of conservationists George and Joy Adamson and their reintroduction of Elsa the orphaned lion cub to the wild.

At the heart of this autobiography is a call to respect nature and all that it provides. Despite an exceptional career in cinema and theatre, Virginia McKenna pushed aside the glamour of movie stardom, the West End and Broadway to focus relentlessly on her personal mission with the Born Free Foundation or the plight of orphaned children across the world. 

Now in a paperback edition, this book will inspire anyone who cares about the future of the planet and all the creatures dependent on it, including human beings. The Life in My Years is the inspirational story of an extraordinary life.


Virginia McKenna is perhaps best known for her role as Joy Adamson in Born Free, one of many films she made with her late husband Bill Travers. A leading British star of the 1950s and ’60s, her other films include Carve Her Name with Pride, A Town Like Alice, The Smallest Show on Earth and Ring of Bright Water. Her stage career has ranged from Perdita in Peter Brook’s 1951 production of A Winter’s Tale to Gertrude in the RSC’s Hamlet in 1984. In the 1970s she starred in West End productions of the musicals A Little Night Music and The King and I (opposite Yul Brynner). Bill and Virginia started Zoo Check in 1984 with their eldest son, Will, after the premature death of Pole Pole, an elephant they had come to know during the filming of An Elephant Called Slowly eighteen years before. Pole Pole had been captured from the wild by the then Kenya Government as a gift to London Zoo. Zoo Check later became the registered charity the Born Free Foundation. Virginia has travelled extensively over the years visiting zoos about which the Born Free Foundation has received complaints. Wherever possible, she accompanies rescued big cats to Born Free’s sanctuaries in India and South Africa. Virginia’s books include Into the Blue (1992), Some of my Friends Have Tails (1971) and On Playing with Lions (1966), which she co-wrote with Bill. She was also a contributor to Beyond the Bars: the Zoo Dilemma (1987). She has four children, nine grandchildren and a great-grandson.

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