Glenda Jackson: The Biography

 
9780006530374: Glenda Jackson: The Biography

The full story of Glenda Jackson’s astonishing journey from Boots shop assistant to double-Oscar-winning actress with a triumphant stage career, and her re-invention of herself as a politician.

In 1964 she became a star of the theatre playing the insane, sexually tormented Charlotte Corday in Peter Brook’s The Marat/Sade. She went on to portray sexually aggressive women for Ken Russell, and gained a reputation for taking her clothes off – an image deeply at odds with her puritanical private life.

With Oscars for Women in Love and A Touch of Class, her biggest box-office hit, Glenda Jackson established herself as the darling of the film industry – she is reputedly one of Britain’s top 200 richest women. Subsequently, she worked in films of intermittent quality, and became increasingly difficult to work with. By the 1980s she appeared almost exclusively on the stage, reinforcing her reputation as a supremely intelligent actress. But she became unhappy with the ephemeral nature of acting, and increasingly involved in left-wing politics.

It took precision engineering to convince the Hampstead and Highgate Labour Party that she was more than a celebrity actress. She won through, and rose to become Junior Minister for Transport under Tony Blair.

As actress or MP, Glenda Jackson continues to intrigue the public, and in her appearances there shines through a contradictory, sultry and evasive woman.

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Review:

Glenda Jackson had a distinguished career in the avant-garde theatre of the 60s--she played Charlotte Corday in Peter Brook's Marat/Sade--won two Oscars, not necessarily for her best films, and was much admired both as television's Queen Elizabeth and as one of the most perfect guest stars Morecambe and Wise ever had.

Chris Bryant's account of her acting life in Glenda Jackson is comprehensive and useful, giving some real sense of why she was so much admired, but also of how the demands she put on herself in her finest roles were ones which might strain anyone's commitment to their art.

This is also, after all, a campaign biography; Bryant was part of her team in the 1992 general election, and it seems likely that Jackson will be standing as the approved Labour candidate in the election for London's Mayor. He stresses the discontent with Labour infighting that Jackson felt during the Thatcher era and uses this to chart her move from feminist firebrand to the woman Ken Livingstone described as "The most right-wing minister the Labour Party has ever had." She has been a hard-working spokesperson on transport policy and a good constituency MP: "When I became an MP some people expected me to fall flat on my face because I was a woman arriving from a profession thought to be occupied by idiots. Either that, or they thought I would be a prima donna. Why anyone should have thought that, I'm in no position to know, as one of the things that was knocked out of me early on in acting was my ego." --Roz Kaveney

Review:

‘This candid biography sets out vividly Glenda’s strengths and weaknesses.’
Barbara Castle, Daily Mail

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