No one does glamour, severity, girlish charm or tight-lipped witticism better than Dame Maggie Smith, one of Britain's best-loved actors. This new biography shines the stage lights on the life and career of a truly remarkable performer, one whose stage and screen career spans six decades.
From her days as a West End star of comedy and revue, Dame Maggie's path would cross with those of the greatest actors, playwrights and directors of the era. Whether stealing scenes from Richard Burton (by his own admission), answering back to Laurence Olivier, or impressing Ingmar Bergman, her career can be seen as a 'Who's Who' of British theatre in the 20th century.
This book also covers the little-known period in Canada, a prolific five-season run of leading roles that took place during the height of her success in Hollywood, soon after she won her first Oscar for her signature film The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.
Recently Dame Maggie has been prominent on our screens as ever, with high-profile roles as Violet Crawley, the formidable Dowager Countess of Grantham, in the phenomenally successful television series Downton Abbey, and as Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter film franchise: what she herself describes as 'Miss Jean Brodie in a wizard's hat'. Yet paradoxically she remains an enigmatic figure, rarely appearing in public and carefully guarding her considerable talent.
Michael Coveney's absorbing biography, written with the actress' blessing and drawing on personal archives as well as interviews with immediate family and close friends, is therefore as close as it gets to seeing the real Maggie Smith.
Read by Sian Thomas.
©2015 Michael Coveney (P)2015 Orion Publishing Group