Presents Gielgud's love letters. Gielgud had a reputation for speaking his mind, and this is evident as he writes about his contemporaries, including the great actors of period: Olivier, Richardson, Redgrave, Peggy Ashcroft, Edith Evans and the like.
John Gielgud wrote letters almost every day of his adult life. Whether at home in London and later in Buckinghamshire, or acting abroad or on location, he delighted in sitting down each morning and recounting what had been going on and what he felt about events around him. He was still writing just a few days before his death aged 96 in May 2000. His letters are treasured by the recipients and the problem for the editor has been in selection. He wrote in an increasingly idiosyncratic hand and remarked that even he needed a magnifying glass at times to see what he had actually written. Through the letters, which begin with those to his mother, we meet a man who delights in gossip, in describing what he sees and experiences. Here for the first time - and not previously available to biographers - are Gielgud's love letters. They show that he was not shy is expressing the intimacies of personal relationships. Gielgud had a reputation for speaking his mind, and this is evident as he writes about his contemporaries, including the great actors of period: Olivier, Richardson, Redgrave, Peggy Ashcroft, Edith Evans and the like. Here is great letter-writing before the age of e-mail. "Gielgud's Letters" are a revelation - full of inside information and gossip.
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'... beautifully edited by Mangan... he has served Gielgud well.' DAILY TELEGRAPH '... revelatory... The value of these fascinating letters, assembled by Richard Mangan in a real feat of detective work, does not however, depend on their confimation of Gielgud's life-long romance with the stage... the significance of these intelligent jottings relates to their barrier-breaking clarities. A chronically inhibited man bursts from the closets of discretion and introversion.' -- Nicholas de Jongh EVENING STANDARD 'Writing seems to have come easily to John Gielgud... they are fluent, neatly phrased, urbane... This book contains a great deal which is bound to intrigue anyone interested in the theatre and theatrical history' -- John Gross SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 'Gielgud's Letters is more revealing than any of the biographies published during and after his lifetime. It provides a rounded portrait of a man whose every day was taken up with the business of acting or directing... Mangan has put together an invaluable record of the progress of a peerless interpreter of Shakespeare an of an essentially kind and modest human being.' -- Paul Bailey SUNDAY TIMES 'Revelatory... fascinating... shrewd, funny, vivid...' SCOTSMAN 'Gielgud's Letters is a much more revealing portrait than any of the orthodox biographies.' -- Roger Lewis SUNDAY EXPRESS 'This invaluable collection reveals more about the actor than any biography has done so far.' SUNDAY TIMES 'You really must read...' 'In a society which does not revere age and experience, these letters make a compelling case for gerontocracy.' THE ECONOMIST '[Gielgud's Letters] does testify to a sweet and generous nature... The man's goodness offers a clue to his greatness. Actors ought to be more than exhibitionists. At its finest, theirs is an altruistic art, which enables them to empathise with the desires and distresses of others.' THE OBSERVER '... to read them through is to get the full measure of the man. From the earliest age Gielgud had an instinctive elegance, buoyancy and sense of shape in his own use of language. To the very end, there is scarcely a paragraph that is not perfectly phrased and gracefully turned... These letters, an irresistible 60-year-long gossip about life and art, give us as never before the generosity, the vivacity and the instinctive genius of the man.' -- Simon Callow THE GUARDIAN 'Richard Mangan has chose some 800 letters which read like the autobiography Gielgud never wrote... Addicts of celebrity gossip will enjoy Gielgud's viperous squirts... Richard Mangan's editing is light, and his selection of rare pictures superb.' INDEPENDENT 'This fascinating collection of letters, written over a period of 87 years by one of Britain's greatest actors is a treasure trove of theatrical history... Gielgud comes across as a civilised, cultured man, with a roguish sense of humour... His perceptive and often waspish comments about other actors and celebrites are hilarious.' PRESS ASSOCIATION syndicated review '... an eloquent writer... These 564 pages of private correspondence are more revealing than any biography.' THEATREGOER 'In selecting slightly fewer than half the 1,600 letters he discovered, Richard Mangan has nonetheless succeeded in balancing the various aspects of Gielgud's character. The predominent quality that emerges is that of kindness... His letters abound with tart vignettes of people and situations... Gielgud's intelligent, refined and tender voice is compelling...' FINANCIAL TIMES 'Perhaps what these letters reveal better than anything published about Gielgud before is his clear-headed view of work, people and life. His sense of humour is often to the fore, sometimes a bit catty, often ribald, and with a thoroughly healthy disdain for snobbery and pretension. Mangan has provided unobtrusive footnotes, a chronology, and a useful list of characters - the cast list of Gielgud's life runs from Eleanor Roosevelt to Joan Collins, from Garbo to Twiggy.' LITERARY REVIEW 'One of the many attractions of this absorbing and deliciously entertaining book is Gielgud's capacity for self-criticism... Richard Mangan, a discreet but informative editor, has unearthed scores of valuable letters not previously available... This splendid book reveals an infinitely more complicated and attractive character: self-depracating, down-to-earth and scurrilous, with an idiosyncratic gift for friendship, deep veins of loyalty and generosity... We may not look upon his like again.' THE SPECTATOR 'The letters are peppered with theatrical anecdotes and camp allusions - everything is either 'divine', 'hideous' or 'wretched'. But, in the days before the law was changed, Sir John was terrified that his homosexuality would be revealed... He knew everybody who was anybody, and took full advantage of his position as 'the greatest actor of his generation' by having fun, fun, fun.' GAY TIMES '... fascinating reading... The letters are fast, funny and bitchy but rarely malicious... a delight to dip into...' THE LIST (Glasgow & Edinburgh) 'He was a warm and generous correspondent... the letters still provide a revealing backstage glimpse of a man who was one of the four great British actors of the twentieth century... who sowed the seeds of the National Theatre with his seasons of classics in the West End, and who was often more open to experiment than is usually acknowledged.' TIME OUT 'The book is a wonderfully opinionated history of twentieth century theatre in Britain, America and to an extent elsewhere... Richard Mangan has done a fine job in editing... and can be congratulated on a very worthwhile result that will please any theatre lover... many hours of pleasure...' THE BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE
About Sir John Gielgud
Richard Mangan edited John Gielgud's Notes From The Gods (Nick Hern Books, 1994). He is curator of the Mander and Mitchenson Theatre Collection at Greenwich, London. Richard Mangan edited JOHN GIELGUD'S NOTES FROM THE GODS (Nick Hern Books, 1994). He is curator of the Mander and Mitchenson Theatre Collection.
Gielgud's Letters by Sir John Gielgud
Sir John Gielgud
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