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I'm whistling. That's what I do when I'm afraid.
―Anna Leonowens

Anna Harriette Leonowens (born Ann Hariett Emma Edwards; November 5, 1831January 19, 1915) was an Anglo-Indian or Indian-born British travel writer, educator and social activist.

She became well known with the publication of her memoirs, beginning with The English Governess at the Siamese Court (1870), which chronicled her experiences in Siam (modern Thailand) as a teacher to the children of the Siamese King Mongkut. Leonowens' own account has been fictionalized in Margaret Landon's 1944 best-selling novel Anna and the King of Siam and films and television series based on the book, most notably Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1951 hit musical The King and I.

She is also the main protagonist, a widowed mother of Louis, a school teacher, King Mongkut's love interest and the main protagonist from the 1999 animated film, The King and I. She is voiced by Miranda Richardson along with Christiane Noll doing her singing voice.



Anna Leonowens is a usual woman from the 1860s, and the attractive English widow has come to Siam with the promise of meaningful work teaching and enlightening the Royal Children and the promise of an architectural brick house of her own where she may raise her 10-year old son, Louis outside the Royal Palace.

When she discovers that King Mongkut is rather cavalier about the promises he keeps, she must prove that everyone deserves the right to make their own choices. In her own clever way, she proves herself an able, key adviser and a true friend to Mongkut. She convinces him not to fight the approaching British emissaries but instead throws a grand ball and proves himself to be a civilized, modern King.

Anna discovers him to be more open-minded and kindhearted than his stubborn, royal facade would suggest. She is just the woman to help Mongkut help himself if she can survive the battle of wills.


Describing Anna's personality, she is beautiful, headstrong, outspoken, independent, kind-hearted, open-minded, wise, motherly. On the other hand of her personality, she used to be feisty, spunky, and difficult.

But before she leaves, before Tuptim is about to be whipped until her death and before King Mongkut is alive, she used to be angry, short-tempered, serious, upset and also, she gets emotional.

Physical appearance

She is slender with fair skin and beautiful mahogany-red hair, green eyes, red lips, and pearl-like earrings on her ears. She wears a blue sleeveless dress with a yellowish-white long puffy-sleeved shirt underneath a small white collar and a red tie. She wears a white petticoat, white pantalettes, and black heeled boots with white spats underneath her dress. She wears a blue bonnet with a dark blue coat over her dress when she travels to Siam. She has her hair in a bun most of the time.

Role in the film

The King and I

She enters Siam along with her son, Louis as she meets King Mongkut as she becomes the royal school teacher. She then brings a different way to bring Mongkut and the many royal children in the royal academy as she becomes the royal schoolteacher. She begins to have romantic feelings for the King as the two begin to dance.

The villainous Kralahome wants to overthrow King Mongkut from the throne, but after Anna manages to stop Kralahome and he is arrested and is forced to clean up the elephant dung with his henchman, Master Little, Anna returns her feelings (along with her adjacent architectural brick residence outside the Royal palace) to the King as the two begin to dance towards the end of the film.

Other appearances


The King and I Animated Thinking Adventure





Differences from the source material

External Links

v - e - d
Richard Rich - The King and I - Transparent Logo.png
The King and I (Soundtrack/Video) • The King and I Animated Thinking Adventure
Anna LeonowensLouis LeonowensKing MongkutMoonsheeRamaTuskerPrince ChulalongkornTuptimThe Royal ChildrenKralahomeMaster LittleSir Edward Ramsay
I Whistle a Happy TuneHello, Young LoversGetting to Know YouShall I Tell You What I Think of You?A PuzzlementI Have DreamedPrayer to BuddhaShall We Dance?
The Royal PalaceKralahome's Lair
The Royal PendantThe Magic Gong
See also