John Gielgud: An Actor's Life

John Gielgud: An Actor's Life - Gyles Brandreth I was predisposed to like this little biography, because I like the subject and I like the author. And I didn't have excessive expectations, because I had already read a much more extensive biography, by Sheridan Morley, as well as the letters. So what I was hoping for here was some new anecdotes, some nice pictures, and Brandreth's urbane, witty style. All of these I got, but the experience was marred by the fact that one entire side of a sheet was unprinted, meaning that i lost half of the first twenty pages altogether. Frustrating.

This book was a revised and updated version of a 1984 work called John Gielgud: A Celebration and Brandreth writes, "I am happy to say Sir John approved of the books I wrote about him." So there's no point looking for dirt here, though Brandreth cannot entirely avoid the infamous "cottaging" charge in the 1950s.

As a concise summary of Gielgud's marvelous career, touching on the roles, the performances and their reception, this is a handy little volume. And there are a couple of very stunning pictures of Gielgud in full stage makeup as a young man. I think I'll keep it despite the annoying defect.