Saturday, April 4, 2020
Authors Author Directory Wendy Buonaventura

Wendy Buonaventura


Wendy Buonaventura is a writer and dancer whose work explores cultural myths about women. Her shows (many of them offshoots of her books)  have been seen internationally, including at the Paris Institut du Monde Arabe and Sadlers Wells, London.

She wrote and presented the series Dances with the Devil for radio 4 (chosen for Pick of the Week and Pick of the Day).wendy_buonaventura

Wendy has talked about her books on radio 4’s Off The Shelf, A Good Read, Woman’s Hour and radio 3’s Late Junction.

Website and social media:


2018:  Dark Venus: Maud Allan & the Myth of the Femme Fatale (Amberley)
2008:  Midnight Rose  (Cinnabar)
2003: I Put A Spell On You: Dancing Women from Salome to Madonna (Saqi)
1998: Beauty and the East  (Saqi)
1989, updated 2010 and continuously in print in English since first publication:
Serpent of the Nile: Women & Dance in the Arab World (Saqi)
also published in French, German, Dutch, Russian
Amazon or other bookseller links: all Wendy Buonaventura’s books are available on Amazon.


Dark Venus: Maud Allan & the Myth of the Femme Fatale (Amberley 2018). How the Dance of the Seven Veils led  to the libel case of the century. Dark Venus looks at the late Dark-Venus19th  and early 20th century obsession with woman as femme fatale. It examines the life of the scandalous dancer Maud Allan, and men’s response to the fear and thrill of dangerous women during a crucial period in the history of feminism.
I Put A Spell on You: Dancing Women from Salome to Madonna (Saqi Books 2004) How women in different cultures have used dance, in private and professionally, to escape poverty,  find creative expression  and challenge social constraints.
reviewed by Justine Picardie in the Daily Telegraph: ‘Buonaventura’s theatrical flourish never deserts her in her bravura leaps through history…The breadth of her knowledge is apparent in every gem of an anecdote’. 
Serpent of the Nile: Women & Dance in the Arab World (Saqi Books, 1989)
Beautifully illustrated with 19th century art, this book looks at the history and  importance of social dance for women in the Arab world. It chronicles too the role of dancers in the Orientalist view of the Middle East.
Time Out (London): ‘A delight to browse and just as interesting to read’serpent_of_the_nile
New York Times Book Review: ‘Lively and lavishly illustrated’

Pitch to Publishers & Festival Organisers

Her latest book, Dark Venus, is especially relevant to today’s conversation about feminism. She is happy to give a talk/Q&A or to take part in a panel discussion. Together with a small group of musicians and actors she has devised a touring cabaret of humorous songs and stories based on this book, which could be programmed for festivals, funds permitting.

Literary Festival Appearances: Bath Literary Festival 2004
Contact email: wendybuon[aventu] – (remove square brackets before emailing)


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