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12 June 2014 | by Francine Stock


In a double portrait from 1779, believed to be by Zoffany, a pair of young society women in gleaming draped silks smile out from a bucolic setting. One is apparently bolder, more mischievous; she sports a fashionable turban with a jaunty feather and seems to gesture to her own face. Unlike her companion, who is touching her arm affectionately, this figure does not have white skin. Dido Elizabeth Belle was the illegitimate daughter of a Royal Navy officer and a West African woman, a slave. Dido was raised by her father’s uncle, Lord Mansfield, in the family home at Kenwood House, given a name if not equal status, apparently loved. Little is known of her save that she received an inheritance, married a white man and bore two sons. Director Amma Asante has for her second feature chosen

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