Dark Venus: Maud Allan and the Myth of the Femme Fatale


Maud Allan & the Myth of the Femme Fatale

by Wendy Buonaventura

In 1918 the dancer Maud Allan brought a libel case against Noel Billing MP, who had accused her in print of lesbianism. In the role of Salome Allan, fondling on stage the severed head of John the Baptist, played out men’s worst fears about female power and came to embody the era’s dominant image of the dangerous and corrupting female. Dark Venus considers the late 19th  and early 20th century obsession with woman as femme fatale; a stereotype that gave rise to bizarre beliefs about women’s bodies and sexuality which continue to influence women today. It looks too at men’s response to the fear and thrill of dangerous women during a crucial period in the history of feminism.

Pub 2018, Amberley Books, Stroud. ISBN978-1-4456-7751-4

DARK VENUS - Maud Allan & the Myth of the Femme Fatale
Midnight Rose by Wendy Buonaventura


by Wendy Buonaventura

Midnight Rose is a novel based on the life of one of the most notorious female performers of the Edwardian age. Maud Allan found fame for her portrayal of the ultimate dancing femme fatale, Salome. Combining fact and fiction, Midnight Rose explores the extraordinary life of one of the earliest celebrities.

Pub  2008, Cinnabar Books   ISBN 978-1-898495-07-9

End of print run: only 5 copies remaining.

Midnight Rose by Wendy Buonaventura
I put a spell on you by Wendy Buonaventura


by Wendy Buonaventura

From the cancan and tango to the waltz and black bottom: this book looks at how women have used dance for self-expression, financial independence and to escape the confines of society.

‘Buonaventura’s theatrical flourish never deserts her in her bravura leaps through history…She knows dance to be a language beyond words, but she has somehow translated it so that the story of how we move reveals also what moves us.’ – Justine Picardie, The Daily Telegraph

‘Biting and incisive…the writing bristles with the sharp observations of an informed insider’ – Dance Theatre Journal

‘Wendy Buonaventura’s wildly provocative book operates on many levels, using women’s dance to probe the subject of social power, class and gender politics the world over…For anyone who has had the pleasure of seeing this author perform, she dances as she writes: drawing you in with flowing ease and grace before shooting from the hip with a devilish twinkle in the eye!’ – Mosaic Magazine

The American edition of this book, (identical book, but with a different title!) is called Something In The Way She Moves.

ISBN # 978-0-86356-628-8. Pub in the UK 2003, Saqi Books, London; in the USA, Da Capo Press

Autographed copies of American edition (identical book, different title!) SOMETHING IN THE WAY SHE MOVES are available from this website

Serpent of the Nile by Wendy Buonaventura

Women and Dance in the Arab World

by Wendy Buonaventura

  • ‘A lively and lavishly illustrated excursion into the history of Middle Eastern dance’ – New York Times
  • ‘For anyone seriously interested in dance this book is invaluable’ – Dancing Times

See a slide show and interview with Wendy on the Guardian Newspaper’s website – click here

Serpent of the Nile, has become a classic on the subject of Middle Eastern women’s dance, and has been in print continuously since 1989 in both original and updated editions. On publication it was chosen as an Observer Book of the Year. It has been translated into French, German, Dutch and Russian.

Pub (updated edition) 2010, Saqi Books, London   ISBN 978-0-86356-628-8.