Sir John Gielgud made his first appearance at the Old Vic in London in 1921. Through eight decades he dominated his profession, initially as a classical actor, later in plays by Harold Pinter and Alan Bennett. Towards the end of his career, he emerged as a Hollywood star, winning his first Oscar (for Arthur) at the age of 78. When Gielgud died in May 2000 he was honoured as 'the giant of twentieth century theatre'. Dame Maggie Smith said, 'We will not see his like again. It is the end of an era.' In this special celebration of his life and work, Gyles Brandreth tells the extraordinary story of a unique actor, film star, director and raconteur who loved gossip and had a wicked sense of humour. The author draws on his own conversations with Gielgud over thirty years (written with Gielgud's blessing) plus previously unpublished contributions from a range of Gielgud's friends and colleagues - including Sir Kenneth Branagh, Sir John Mills, Sir Donald Sinden, Sir Alec Guiness, Sir Peter Hall, Paul Scofield, Eileen Atkins, Dulcie Gray and David Hemmings.
A revealing, and at times touching, portrait of a fascinating personality and an authoritative and compelling account of a remarkable career. John Gielgud: An Actor's Life is as much the story of twentieth century theatre as of one man.
A former Oxford scholar and President of the Oxford Union, Gyles Brandreth worked in theatre, television and publishing before becoming MP for the City of Chester in 1992. He returned to writing and broadcasting in 1997 and is the author of a series of acclaimed profiles of actors and directors - including Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Gambon and Sir Peter Hall. He is currently editor-at-large of the Sunday Telegraph Review, editorial consultant to Whitaker's Almanack and presents LBC's weekly arts review plus 'London Comment' on Up to the Minute for CBS in the US.