Cover image for Wild heart : the story of Joy Adamson, author of born free
Wild heart : the story of Joy Adamson, author of born free
Neimark, Anne E.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt Brace, [1999]

Physical Description:
x, 118 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Discusses the life and work of the woman best known for relationship with a lion cub, described in her book "Born Free."
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 7.7 5.0 28515.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QL31.A33 N45 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Joy Adamson is renowned for her work on behalf of orphaned wild animals and environmental movements. She revolutionized the public's view of the emotional capacity of animals. She also produced paintings that chronicled the flora and fauna of Africa, and paintings of tribal men and women in traditional clothing. But she is best known as the author of Born Free, the story of Elsa, the lion cub she tamed and raised and eventually released into the wild. Anne E. Neimark's biography tells the dramatic story of the extraordinary adventure of Joy Adamson's life.

Author Notes

Anne E. Neimark is a renowned author whose reader-friendly approach to writing biographies has allowed many young people to learn about the lives of famous and important people. She is the author of Diego Rivera , Artist of the People and Che! She lives near Chicago.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6-10. Drawing on Adamson's best-selling books, this biography tells her personal story and relates it to her astonishing work with wild animals in Kenya and her pioneer leadership in the world conservation movement. Readers who know the book trilogy and movie Born Free will enjoy reading about Adamson's childhood in Austria, her distant relationship with her parents, her changing of homelands and husbands (she had three marriages), her work as painter of Kenyan flora and tribal costumes and traditions, and the way that "animals seemed to her to be a safer place for her affections than humans." It is jarring that the Kenyans are usually just background "African tribesmen," natives without names, poachers who threaten the noble animals. The documentation is sparse (nothing besides the brief bibliography); Neimark confuses Ruanda with Rhodesia; and you wonder how she can tell us what Adamson was thinking as she lay dying alone. However, the strong appeal here is the adventure story and especially the loving, physical particulars of the lion as pet, whether it's the way that Elsa sucked Adamson's thumbs for comfort or the heartbreak of the parting when the lion was released into the wild. The 16 pages of photographs in a central insert include amazing pictures of Adamson cheek to cheek with Elsa. (Reviewed March 15, 1999)0152013687Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Fans of Born Free will likely be disappointed with this cursory view of ethologist Joy Adamson's life and work. The early chapters in this profile of one of the world's most visionary conservationists and animal rights activists gets bogged down in glancing references to her three marriages, extramarital affairs and an abortion. Consequently, Adamson often comes off as a capricious schoolgirl (e.g., after George Adamson, who would become her third husband, tells her he's in love with her, she "could hardly concentrate on the smallest task"). Neimark (Myth Maker: J.R.R. Tolkien) touches on some interesting factsÄAdamson's refusal to visit her anti-Semitic stepfather in her native Austria at the dawn of Nazism; her early renown as a botanical artist and her later mistreatment by the Nairobi government, which cheated her of the proceeds from the duplication and sales of her original drawings. But Elsa, the lioness that changed the course of Adamson's career, doesn't enter until over halfway through the volume and merits just three chapters; readers get a fleeting look at the relationship that would spawn several books, a landmark film and Adamson's lifelong commitment to conserving territory for African wildlife. A bibliography reveals that the bulk of the author's resources are Adamson's own writings, but little light is shed here on this extraordinary woman. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7-9An insightful look at one of the worlds pioneers in wildlife conservation. After a privileged childhood in Austria, a disastrous love affair, and two unsuccessful marriages, Friederike (later called Joy) Gessner found her calling in a rugged, adventurous life in Africa. With her third husband George Adamson, she shared a love of animals and a safari lifestyle. When he brought her three orphaned lion cubs, one the famous Elsa, Adamsons fascination with big cats became the focus of her life. Income from her books and lectures, plus fund-raising, was used to establish national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and conservation organizations worldwide. Through objective writing, Neimark reveals Adamson as a woman more comfortable with animals than humans, passionate and mercurial by nature, and beloved by many. There is some fictionalized dialogue. A few of Adamsons paintings are included; although they are reproduced in black and white, they clearly indicate her talent as an artist. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.