The definitive biography of Maggie Smith, grande dame of stage and screen, written with her approval.
Michael Coveney is one of the country's most respected writers on theatre. Formerly staff critic for the Financial Times, the Observer and the Daily Mail, he has since 2006 been associated with the leading West End website WhatsOnStage.com. He has unprecedented access to Dame Maggie Smith's personal archives and curated the recent BFI season of her film and television work. His previous books include The Citz, The Aisle is Full of Noises, The Andrew Lloyd Webber Story, The World According to Mike Leigh, Knight Errant: Memoirs of a Vagabond Actor (with Robert Stephens) and Ken Campbell: The Great Caper. He lives in Hampstead, north London.
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 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 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 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 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 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 Coveney has written a magnificent book that beautifully illuminates the talent and the irreducible personality of a great artist -- Peter Craven THE AUSTRALIAN [A] revealing biography of the sublime life and loves of Maggie Smith -- Gerald Isaaman CAMDEN NEW JOURNAL Wonderful insight into the life of a wonderful actress - READERS' CHOICE FOR BEST MEMOIR OF THE YEAR WOMAN & HOME Coveney enticingly lists and quotes from her most remarkable roles, and forbears to intrude on Smith's determinedly private life. Hers is a fascinating story, a true swan hatched from the unlikely nest of a dour Methodist accountant mother and a lab technician father who moved to Oxford during the war. -- Christina Hardyment THE TIMES