Miranda Seymour confesses that she had never heard of Virginia Cherrill until 2005, when she was mesmerised by her performance as the blind girl in Charlie Chaplin's 1931 film, City Lights. By then Virginia (1908–96) had been dead for nearly a decade, but Seymour heard that a long-standing friend of the actress had spent some years making tape recordings of the actress’s reminiscences, while preserving her apartment and archive intact. The author set off in quest of her, a therapeutic exercise after her previous book, a devastating and fascinating exploration of her own father (In My Father's House, Simon & Schuster, 2007). It has proved an adventure well worth the undertaking.
Unlike the author, I had heard of Virginia Cherrill, though knew little about her. The story needed to be told by a skilled biographer, and she was lucky to land in the hands of Miranda Seymour, albeit posthumously. I am not quite sure what deal Seymour had to