"No one does glamour, severity, girlish charm or tight-lipped witticism better than Dame Maggie Smith, one of Britain's best-loved actors. This new biography shines the stage lights on the life and work of a truly remarkable performer, one whose career spans six decades. From her days as a star of West End comedy and revue, Dame Maggie would cross paths with those of the greatest actors, playwrights, and directors of the era. Whether stealing scenes from Richard Burton (by his own admission), answering back to Laurence Olivier, or impressing Ingmar Bergman, she built a career that can be seen as a 'Who's Who' of British theatre in the twentieth century. This book also covers her success in Hollywood, inaugurated by her first Oscar for her signature film, The prime of Miss Jean Brodie, as well as her subsequent departure to Canada for a prolific four-season run of leading theatre roles. Recently she has been as prominent on our screens as ever, with high-profile roles as Violet Crawley, the formidable Dowager Countess, in the phenomenally successful television series Downton Abbey, and as Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter film franchise; what she herself describes as "Miss Jean Brodie in a wizard's hat." Yet paradoxically she remains an enigmatic figure, rarely appearing in public and carefully guarding her considerable talent. Michael Coveney's absorbing biography drawing on personal archives, interviews, and encounters with the actress, as well as conversations with immediate family and dear friends, is therefore as close as it gets to seeing the real Maggie Smith."--Book jacket.