A NEW book chronicling the life of ‘Britain’s Marilyn Monroe’ has been penned as a tribute to Swindon’s most famous star.

Passport to Fame: The Diana Dors story, written by theatre extraordinaire Huw Prall, tells of Diana’s rich and fascinating life.

The indefatigable author started the literary project in 1994 and at the end of January finally saw it hit the shelves.

“It feels wonderful to have finished the book,” said Huw. “It has been a highly educational project and I have thoroughly enjoyed working on it.”

According to Huw, most previous books about Diana have tended to focus on the salacious aspects of her private life, but Huw wanted to take a different approach, highlighting her skill as an actress and her immense drive and passion to succeed.

He said: “People tend to forget just how good an actress she actually was. She had a lot of theatre experience behind her and her huge talents always shone through.

“I wanted to celebrate her incredible story because it is a fantastic example of someone using their talents and determination to succeed.”

Diana, who was born in Kent Road in Old Town, was often referred to as the British Marilyn Monroe during the 1950s. However, as she would often point out, she had been working professionally a lot longer than Marilyn.

Her first appearance was in 1946 in The Shop at Sly Corner, while still a student at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Diana, like Marilyn, was blonde, curvy and sexy, but, according to Huw, that’s largely where the comparison ended.

“Her range as an actress was broad, from comedy blondes to evil old hags, and even Greek tragedy in theatre. She had a prolific career encompassing theatre, cabaret, film and TV. She was also a talented writer, compiling two autobiographies and three A–Z books.”

Passport to Fame is described as “a comprehensive study of Diana’s work across her 40 years of filmmaking”.

Huw trained as a classical dancer and has worked in both classical and musical theatre, as well as in film and television. He teaches at several London Drama Schools and is head of dance for the Education Department at Shakespeare’s Globe.

He said: “Diana always wanted to be taken seriously as an actress and I think that is how she should be remembered.”

Last January, more than 100 people gathered outside number 61 and 62 Kent Road for the unveiling of a blue plaque.

It was there on October 23, 1931, that Winifred Payne gave birth to Diana Mary Fluck at the former Haven Nursing Home which was once joined to a doctor’s surgery.

Echoing Huw’s sentiments, Diana’s granddaughter Ruby, 27 said: “One thing which has come across about her is that she knew what she wanted and went after it, and I think that is a quality I have picked up from her.”

The film star was the latest of Swindon’s great and good to find lasting recognition in her hometown in the form of a special blue plaque.