• The Queens of Animation

  • The Untold Story of the Women Who Transformed the World of Disney and Made Cinematic History
  • By: Nathalia Holt
  • Narrated by: Saskia Maarleveld
  • Length: 11 hrs and 37 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (181 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of Rise of the Rocket Girls, the untold, "richly detailed" story of the women of Walt Disney Studios, who shaped the iconic films that have enthralled generations (Margot Lee Shetterly, New York Times best-selling author of Hidden Figures). 

From Snow White to Moana, from Pinocchio to Frozen, the animated films of Walt Disney Studios have moved and entertained millions. But few fans know that behind these groundbreaking features was an incredibly influential group of women who fought for respect in an often ruthless male-dominated industry and who have slipped under the radar for decades. 

In The Queens of Animation, best-selling author Nathalia Holt tells their dramatic stories for the first time, showing how these women infiltrated the boys' club of Disney's story and animation departments and used early technologies to create the rich artwork and unforgettable narratives that have become part of the American canon. As the influence of Walt Disney Studios grew - and while battling sexism, domestic abuse, and workplace intimidation - these women also fought to transform the way female characters are depicted to young audiences.

With gripping storytelling, and based on extensive interviews and exclusive access to archival and personal documents, The Queens of Animation reveals the vital contributions these women made to Disney's Golden Age and their continued impact on animated filmmaking, culminating in the record-shattering Frozen, Disney's first female-directed full-length feature film.

A Best Book of 2019: Library Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and Financial Times

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Nathalia Holt (P)2019 Little, Brown & Company

Critic Reviews

"Think of this book as if Hidden Figures were about Walt Disney Studios instead of NASA. The Queens of Animation pulls back the curtain on a handful of influential, and largely under-recognized, women writers and animators who helped shape the early aesthetic of Disney during a time when the industry was largely a boy's club.... Holt goes from Snow White up to Frozen in this essential read ahead of the launch of Disney+ this fall." (Jeva Lange, The Week, 25 Books to Read in the Second Half of 2019)

"A riveting and essential read about the women who helped create many of the most famous Walt Disney films. Like Hidden Figures and Rise of the Rocket Girls, The Queens of Animation tells us a story we need to hear, one that was lost to history until now." (Charlotte Gordon, author of Romantic Outlaws)

"Readers who loved Nathalia Holt's Rise of the Rocket Girls will find so much to enjoy in this deeply researched, loving celebration of Disney's long-overlooked female pioneers. Holt evocatively blends social history, technological advances and the personal lives of these forgotten artists to champion their achievements and their extraordinary legacy." (Kate Moore, New York Times best-selling author of The Radium Girls)

What listeners say about The Queens of Animation

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Amazing!

I loved the story and while I am not an artist I often found myself inspired by the women in the story. I had recently read “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein and I felt that this book is a great complement to it. Many people, like Orenstein, have concerns that the Disney Princesses are not good role models for young girls to look up to. This book on the other hand gives people information about the women behind some of the renowned Disney classics and gives a new appreciation for the Disney characters people know today. There is one notable downside to the story and that is the author will often talk about one project and one woman and then suddenly she will trail off into talking about another woman and another project at Disney. However, I don’t think this complication is big enough to discourage listeners from listening to the book. Rather I encourage listeners to be patient as many loose ends are addressed at some point in the story. I think this is a great book, I love the narrator’s voice, and I highly encourage everyone to listen to it! In fact if you love Disney movies, especially some of the older ones, this book will become 10x more interesting!

7 people found this helpful

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Good Disney info for fans but way to much whining.

Really enjoyed the Disney facts but as a woman working in what was primarily a “man’s occupation” in past I get tired of the whining about history. Learn, grow and move on. Felt like this book just kept crying of unfairness - would not recommend as a “must read” to Disney fans. More focused on women’s issues than Disney.

5 people found this helpful

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Buy this book!! Truly Inspiring and fascinating!

I wasn't sure about buying this book at first but I'm so glad I did. This is one of my favorite books now. It takes you on a journey through history, the evolution of animation and Disney, and the characters are these real-life women who are an inspiration, as they try to fight prejudice and work hard to advance their art and their dreams.

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fantastical

Brought a lot of great stories I'd never heard, but has me wishing for a more worldly view of women from all different places... Disney is not a bad place to start though. The background of every character is fulfilling through to the end. I'm awe struck by the one who stole the entirety of the show, Mary Blaire.

3 people found this helpful

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Distracting narration

The narrator is fine until she tríes to imitate men’s or children’s voices and also the parts where they make it sound like an old radio. Distracting and annoying. I would give it 0 stars if I could. If audible keeps this trend of having the narrator act out the parts, I'll probably cancel my subscription.

3 people found this helpful

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Great truthful retelling

Saskia Maarleveld puts so much heart into Holt’s words that it was hard to turn this book off. I love knowing that many of the things I love most about Disney are because of these strong women, and more, who fought through so much adversity to succeed.

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Great story and a joy to see women finally being recognized for their hard work.

The story was a bit hard to follow at first due to the myriad names and dates that were introduced. But once I figured out the sequence of information presented, it became much easier to understand. The only downside to the story was the narration. It was overly dramatic. I’d even say melodramatic making it annoying. I kept expecting organ music accompanying it, like in old time radio stories. If you don’t mind that, and the bit of a rush of the author to finish the last two decades, it is worth the read.

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A MUST for Disney Fans

As someone who has read about Disney History for years, I found this book to offer such incredible windows into a forgotten history. Highly recommend

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Super interesting and a great story

This whole book is so full of great information on both the women in the world of Walt Disney animation, and also just the history of the studio in general. The only person I’d heard of before in this story is Mary Blair, and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity through this book to learn about how many talented women were a part of Disney’s early years.

2 people found this helpful

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amazing audio and awe inspiring story

the narrator's tune is enthralling bringing you into the story making it hard to pause.

1 person found this helpful

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  • L Meredith
  • 05-02-21

❤️

Loved it! It was great to hear so many stories of the hidden women of Disney.

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  • @B$
  • 09-21-20

Beautiful piece of work highlighting women

It was truly amazing I will hold this with me for the rest of my career, everyone should know of the women behind the classics we all know. Well written and formatted

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-04-22

illuminating

a well overdue testimony on the legacy of women in animation. i wish id known about them when i was a kid.