Rogues & Vagabonds

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…

Archive Book Review • SIR JOHN GIELGUD: A Life in Letters • ed. Richard Mangan • Year

gielgudlifeinlettersSir John Gielgud: A Life in Letters edited by Richard Mangan

John Gielgud had a venerable theatrical pedigree for his great-aunt was none other than the celebrated Victorian actress Ellen Terry. The theatre was not so much his chosen milieu as his entire universe, the outside world occasionally intruding but generally on the periphery of theatrical life in all its infinite variety. An inveterate and delightfully chatty letter-writer, in the course of his ninety-six years Gielgud corresponded frequently with family and friends as this weighty new collection of his letters, expertly edited by Richard Mangan attests. With the advent of email, letter-writing has become almost an art-form and Gielgud was certainly a dedicated practitioner of the art, the letters consolidating the popular perception of him as a warm, humorous individual, naturally modest and with an evergreen interest in gossip.

This much, together with his homosexuality, is probably already familiar, but where the book breaks new ground is in its unvarnished presentation of Gielgud’s private life, here seen in candid close-up. For a long time subject to much romantic frustration he finally found a long-time companion in Martin Hensler and by interweaving this intimate material with the colourful chronicles of his professional life, a more comprehensive and satisfying portrait of Gielgud emerges.

Generally he was a perceptive person and an appreciative friend, many of the letters to his fellow thespians – like close friends Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh – burst with a vitality and perspicacity characteristic of the man. Working in Hollywood on the set of Julius Caesar Gielgud described the young Marlon Brando impressing him as “a funny, intense egocentric boy of 27… He is very nervous indeed…mutters his lines and rehearses by himself all day long.” He could also be caustic in his comments. Recalling a chance encounter with Greta Garbo to an ex-lover he reflected, “Met Miss Garbo on Park Avenue looking like a displaced charwoman. I’m sure she cuts her own hair with nail scissors. Distantly gracious and that beautiful smile.” The volume is overlong but this caveat aside, it offers a welcome opportunity to gain a vivid glimpse into the life of one of Britain’s most distinguished actors.

Amanda Hodges © 2004

Originally published on R&V 04-04-04

Advertisements

One comment on “Archive Book Review • SIR JOHN GIELGUD: A Life in Letters • ed. Richard Mangan • Year

  1. Silver Screenings
    03/30/2016

    This sounds wonderful! Letter writing is indeed a lost art…Thanks for the recommendation.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on 03/28/2016 by in Books, Reviews, Theatre and tagged , , .
Jots from a Small Apt.

Largely @ Liberty

Rethinking Life

Art and the philosophy of life

Croatia, the War, and the Future

Ina Vukic - Croatia: people, politics, history, economy, transition from communism to democracy

lynz real cooking

lynz real life

Pride's Purge

an irreverent look at UK politics

Pride's Purge

an irreverent look at UK politics

Tropical Affair

Observations of the illusion through the eyes of wonder...

barneyhoskyns.com

The home of writer Barney Hoskyns' books, poems, photos and more.

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Blog magazine for lovers of health, food, books, music, humour and life in general

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

Left Handed Lottie

Drawing and painting on an ipad

Atelier 88

More than just rooms

The Sleeping Hare

Art by Lottie Nevin

Pacific Paratrooper

This WordPress.com site is Pacific War era information

beetleypete

The musings of a Londoner, now living in Norfolk

Vegan Books For Children

books from Little Chicken, Honestly Books and Violet's Vegan Comics

Catherine Meyrick

Historical Fiction with a touch of Romance

Silver Screenings

an irreverent blog of old movies

My Life as an Artist (2)

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Violet's Vegan Comics

Virtual Vegan Comics for Children

Two Rooms Plus Utilities

Written from the heart, this is the unadulterated truth of live with multiple chronic illnesses and being housebound. My life open for you to follow. Please join me

kickingthecat

How current policy is little more than kicking the cat....

Matt's History Blog

Hopefully interesting snippets and thoughts

David Hencke

Westminster and Whitehall news investigations

Notes from the U.K.

Exploring the spidery corners of a culture and the weird stuff that tourist brochures ignore.

BRIDGET WHELAN writer

August is archive month. Posts from the past

P.A. Moed

Creative Exploration in Words and Pictures

creartfuldodger

collage/mixed media artist

My Dad Is A Goldfish

Caring for a demented dad

Scope's Blog

Scope exists to make this country a place where disabled people have the same opportunities as everyone else. Until then, we'll be here.

Art Studio of a Country Woman

Painting My World with My Heart

e-Tinkerbell

Literature, books , sport and whatever intrigues me

AT A GENTLE PACE - Bridget Whelan's lifestyle travel blog

for people who would try anything except whitewater rafting (probably)

reviewdonkey

My personal opinions about.......stuff (as if you care!)

A Teacher's Reflections

Thirty Years of Wonder

The Theatre Guild Newsletter

Celebrating 98 years on Broadway!

Pen and Pension

Immerse yourself in Georgian and Regency England

Scleroderma Guy

It's Not A Life Sentence. It's A Life. Sentence

Lives Our Ancestors Left Behind

What were their stories for us?

REDFLAGFLYING

Dictatorship is good. If the Dictator is me.

J.M. Weselby @ Magpie Creative Writing Services

because all writers are magpies at heart...

LibDem Fischer

The world of politics

MovieBabble

The Casual Way to Discuss Movies

CineMuseFilms

Freelance Film Critic

%d bloggers like this: