Author and Journalist

E-books

Three of my earlier non-fiction books are now out as e-books

Read more about Madame SadayakkoMadame Sadayakko: The Geisha Who Seduced the West

The true story of Japan’s first actress, who was the country’s most famous geisha and the lover of the then prime minister. She performed from San Francisco to New York, London to Paris to St Petersburg, in dramas that shaped westerners’ images of Japan, and was Puccini’s model for Madame Butterfly.

‘Downer is an agile and evocative writer who treats this sensational tale with consistent elegance.’
The Times

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Geisha: The Secret History of a Vanishing WorldGeisha: The Secret History of a Vanishing World

The definitive work on geisha with many colourful stories from their history plus tales of modern day geisha who became my friends and revealed their secretes.

I also met modern day courtesans, male geisha, golf geisha …

‘The only book on geisha you will ever need to read.’

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On the Narrow Road to the Deep NorthOn the Narrow Road to the Deep North: Journey into a Lost Japan

My first book, the story of my adventures in the footsteps of the haiku poet Basho through northern Japan. Basho made his journey in 1689 in the footsteps of the Richard-the-Lionheart-like hero Yoshitsune who travelled through the area in 1189. And I did the same journey more or less in 1989, stayed with farmers and mountain priests and saw a side of Japan few people see (and loved it).

‘Original and engaging … Lesley Downer is the perfect guide – expert, intrepid, following a dream.’
John Carey, Sunday Times

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