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Maggie Smith

Maggie Smith

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 twentieth 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’s 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

(p) 2015 Orion Publishing Group
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Genre: Biography & True Stories / Biography: General / Biography: Arts & Entertainment

On Sale: 3rd September 2015

Price: £25

ISBN-13: 9781409162476

Reviews

Wonderful insight into the life of a wonderful actress - READERS' CHOICE FOR BEST MEMOIR OF THE YEAR
WOMAN & HOME
A satisfying read ... [P]leasantly gossipy and a very valuable addition to the history of British theatre
Mary McEvoy, IRISH INDEPENDENT
[A] solid and admiring portrait of a beloved actor's craft and career
Patricia Nicol, INDEPENDENT
Inspiring stuff - BOOK OF THE WEEK
NEW magazine
Coveney has written a magnificent book that beautifully illuminates the talent and the irreducible personality of a great artist
Peter Craven, THE AUSTRALIAN
As [Michael] Coveney portrays her in this informative, well-crafted biography, Smith brings to her role as Dowager Countess [in Downton Abbey] the acerbic wit, sly irreverence, and masterly technique that has served her throughout her long career. Steeped in theatre history, and with full cooperation from Smith; her husband, actor Beverley Cross; family and colleagues, including her close friend Judi Dench, Coveney seamlessly melds Smith's personal and professional lives into an engrossing narrative ... An authoritative and perceptive portrait
KIRKUS REVIEWS
Michael Coveney isn't afraid to elucidate on her reputation for being difficult, but there's much more here, from a revelatory Hedda Gabler to The Lady In The Van. Coveney is the only writer who could get under Smith's skin, capturing her steeliness and vulnerability
Christopher Fowler, INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY, Cinema Books of the Year
The conundrum of what Smith does haunts Coveney's Maggie Smith: A Biography, on a brilliant journey from Shakespeare's Viola to J.K. Rowling's Professor McGonagall. Coveney's admiration is never in doubt, being of a rare critical type that cares for the actor's craft with infectious enthusiasm
Michael Joseph Chance, TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
BOOK OF THE WEEK
DAILY MAIL
Michael Coveney's affectionate [biography] provides the best account we are likely to get of this reserved grand dame, who surely stands alone in having her 'witty' elbows and wrists so often singled out for praise
EVENING STANDARD, Books of the Year
From early days in the theatre to Miss Jean Brodie and Downton's formidable Dowager, Maggie Smith has endeared herself to millions. This engaging and fascinating biography reveals the life and career of one of our finest actresses
WOMAN & HOME
[A] revealing biography of the sublime life and loves of Maggie Smith
Gerald Isaaman, CAMDEN NEW JOURNAL
Dame Maggie Smith - now 81 - is a national treasure, her unforgettable asperity a delight in every role ... [Coveney's] knowledgeable, elegant biography examines the qualities of the woman in the spotlight ... But he also gently probes Smith's closely guarded privacy, with revealing anecdotes from friends, fellow thespians and Smith's sons, the actors Chris Larkin and Toby Stephens
Jane Shilling, DAILY MAIL