As British prime minister from 1945 to 1951, Clement Attlee built a legacy that includes today’s famous—and controversial—National Health Service, yet he is often remembered as a rather dull political figure. Rejecting Winston Churchill’s jibe that Attlee was a “modest little man with plenty to be modest about,” this biography makes the case that his reputation as Britain’s greatest reforming prime minister is fully deserved.
Building on his earlier work on Attlee and including new research and stories, many of which are published here for the first time, Francis Beckett highlights Attlee’s relevance for a new generation. A poet and dreamer, Attlee led a remarkable political life that saw, among other challenges, the beginning of the Cold War. Ultimately, this perceptive biography demonstrates that Attlee’s ideas have never been more relevant.
Francis Beckett Haus Publishing, 2006 Library of Congress PN2598.O55B43 2005
In the 1930s he established himself as a wide-ranging Shakespearean actor. His marriage in 1940 to Vivien Leigh (his second wife) seemed to complete the image of the romantic star. From the mid-40s he excelled in directing himself in Shakespeare on film, such as his dramatically-shot Henry V (1944), with its timely excesses of patriotism. When the new wave of British drama began in the late 1950s, Olivier was immediately part of it. As an actor of such wide range, and a successful producer and director, Olivier was a natural choice to bring the National Theatre into existence in 1963. Together with his new wife Joan Plowright (they had married in 1961), he built up a brilliant company and repertoire at the Old Vic. Olivier became the first actor to be given a peerage.