In writing the book, Mann met with friends and family members who became more willing to talk about Hepburn after her death.
Hepburn’s brother told the author he wanted answers to questions he’s had for years about his sister’s personal and professional life.
Many of Hepburn’s friends told Mann they needed to understand her as a person in order to understand why she mattered so much to the American people.
Mann said even he had accepted the notion, perpetuated by Hepburn herself, that she had no interest in fame and that aspiring to be a star was “malarkey.”
But according to Mann, the most surprising thing he uncovered in writing the book was that Hepburn was much more ambitious than she appeared.
Debunking the myths surrounding an actress as revered as Hepburn was challenging for the author, who wanted to remain compassionate and respectful while telling a different truth.
“I’m not here to demolish legend for the mere sake of demolishing it,” he said. “Any time a biographer tells the story of a person’s life, what you want to do is share how someone confronts the challenges of their life.”
Mary Ellen Bowman is on staff at the library, where the book club just finished reading the Hepburn biography. She called it an “eye-opener.”
Bowman said they chose the book because they wanted a biography dealing with a celebrity, and they knew the author was scheduled to make an appearance at the library.
“It’s really a great opportunity to read contemporary authors, meet them and ask questions,” she said.
In the book, Mann skillfully explains the people and events that could have prompted Hepburn to recreate herself, Bowman said. Hepburn had no publicity people working for her; the persona she created was of her own making.