Simon Callow - Author

About the Author

Simon Callow is an actor, director and writer. He has appeared in many films, including the hugely popular Four Weddings and a Funeral. Callow's books include Being an Actor, Shooting the Actor, a highly acclaimed biography of Charles Laughton, a biographical trilogy of Orson Welles (of which the first two parts have now been published) and Love is Where it Falls, an account of his friendship with the great play agent, Peggy Ramsay.

Featured books by Simon Callow

Other books by Simon Callow

Being Wagner

Being Wagner

Author: Simon Callow Format: eBook Release Date: 06/02/2018

Simon Callow, the celebrated author of Orson Welles, delivers a dazzling, swift, and accessible biography of the musical titan Richard Wagner and his profoundly problematic legacy--a fresh take for seasoned acolytes and the perfect introduction for new fans.Richard Wagner's music dramas have never been more popular or more divisive. His ten masterpieces, created against the backdrop of a continent in severe political and cultural upheaval, constitute an unmatched body of work. A man who spent most of his life in abject poverty, inspiring both critical derision and hysterical hero-worship, Wagner was a walking contradiction: belligerent, flirtatious, disciplined, capricious, demanding, visionary, and poisonously anti-Semitic. Acclaimed biographer Simon Callow evokes the intellectual and artistic climate in which Wagner lived and takes us through his most iconic works, from his pivotal successes in The Flying Dutchman and Lohengrin, to the musical paradigm shift contained in Tristan and Isolde, to the apogee of his achievements in The Ring of the Nibelung and Parsifal, which debuted at Bayreuth shortly before his death. Being Wagner brings to life this towering figure, creator of the most sublime and most controversial body of work ever known.

Being Wagner The Triumph of the Will

Being Wagner The Triumph of the Will

Author: Simon Callow Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/01/2018

The perfect introduction to the Master. Over a century after his death, Richard Wagner's music dramas stand at the centre of the culture of classical music. He was a walking contradiction: aggressive, flirtatious, disciplined, capricious, heroic, visionary and poisonously anti-Semitic. His ten great mature masterpieces constitute an unmatched body of work, created against a backdrop of poverty, revolution, violent controversy, critical contempt and hysterical hero-worship. In this book, Simon Callow plunges the reader headlong into Wagner's world, examining the intellectual and artistic climate of this composer like no other who ever lived, creator of perhaps the most sublime and most troubling body of work in the history of music.

Being Wagner The Triumph of the Will

Being Wagner The Triumph of the Will

Author: Simon Callow Format: Hardback Release Date: 26/01/2017

The perfect introduction to the Master. One hundred and thirty-five years after his death, Richard Wagner's music dramas stand at the centre of the culture of classical music. They have never been more popular, nor so violently controversial and divisive. As a man, he was a walking contradiction: aggressive, flirtatious, disciplined, capricious, heroic, visionary and poisonously anti-Semitic. His ten great mature masterpieces constitute an unmatched body of work, created against a backdrop of poverty, revolution, violent controversy, critical contempt and hysterical hero-worship. His work often dealt with myth, but his own life had the character of a fable. At one point, in his early fifties, desperately poor after a life of heroic productivity, he had four lengthy operas written with no hope of seeing them done, when, as if in a fairy-tale, he was rescued by a beautiful young king with limitless wealth. When one of those works, Tristan and Isolde, was at last performed, it revolutionised classical music at a stroke. Wagner went on to create The Ring of the Nibelung: a vast epic in four massive segments, ushering gods and dwarves, heroes and thugs, dragons and rainbows onto the stage. This was the apotheosis of German art as he saw it, so extreme in its demands that he had to train a generation of singers and players to perform it, and erect a custom-built theatre to house it. Wagner died, exhausted, after creating one final piece - Parsifal - that seems to point to an even more radical new future for music. Simon Callow plunges the reader headlong into Wagner's world, examining the intellectual and artistic climate in which Wagner, a composer like no other who ever lived, extreme in everything, creator of perhaps the most sublime and most troubling body of work in the history of music.

Being Wagner

Being Wagner

Author: Simon Callow Format: eBook Release Date: 26/01/2017

Simon Callow plunges headlong into Wagner's world to discover what it was like to be Wagner, and to be around one of music's most influential figures. The perfect introduction to the MasterA hundred and thirty-five years after his death, Richard Wagner's music dramas stand at the centre of the culture of classical music. They have never been more popular, nor so violently controversial and divisive. His music is still banned in Israel - the only classical composer whose music is banned in the western world. His ten great mature masterpieces constitute an unmatched body of work, created against a backdrop of poverty, revolution, violent controversy, critical contempt and hysterical hero-worship. As a man, he was a walking contradiction, aggressive, flirtatious, disciplined, capricious, heroic, visionary and poisonously anti-Semitic. At one point, he had four lengthy operas written with no hope of being performed when, as if in a fairy-tale, he was rescued by a beautiful young king with limitless wealth which he bestowed on the composer. When one of those works, Tristan and Isolde, was at last performed, it revolutionised classical music at a stroke. Finally he fulfilled his lifelong dream of creating a vast epic to rival the work of the great Greek playwrights, a music drama in four massive segments, ushering gods and dwarves, heroes and thugs, dragons and rainbows onto the stage, the apotheosis of German art as he saw it, so extreme in its demands that he had to train a generation of singers and players to perform it, and erect a custom-built theatre to house it. Wagner died, exhausted, after creating one final piece - Parsifal - that seems to point to an even more radical new future for music. Simon Callow recalls the intellectual and artistic climate in which Wagner worked, recording the almost superhuman effort required to create his work, and evoking the extraordinary effect he had on people - this composer like no other who ever lived, extreme in everything, creator of the most sublime and most troubling body of work ever known.

Orson Welles

Orson Welles

Author: Simon Callow Format: eBook Release Date: 26/01/2017

Insightful, incisive & enlightening, the first volume of Simon Callow's comprehensive biography of Orson Welles. Now in abridged audio, Callow's vastly entertaining chronicle of Welles's first 26 years seems even finer than it did in 1995. The author's ability to skewer his subject's evasions and lies while retaining critical affection for him is perhaps explained by the fact that Callow, an actor himself, understands the need to mythologise. Welles's innovative theatrical work in the 1930s has never been better described or analysed.

Orson Welles, Volume 3 One-Man Band

Orson Welles, Volume 3 One-Man Band

Author: Simon Callow Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/10/2016

In One-Man Band, the third volume in his epic survey of Orson Welles' life and work, Simon Callow again probes in comprehensive and penetrating detail into one of the most complex artists of the twentieth century, looking closely at the triumphs and failures of an ambitious one-man assault on one medium after another - theatre, radio, film, television, even, at one point, ballet - in each of which his radical and original approach opened up new directions and hitherto unglimpsed possibilities. The book begins with Welles' self-exile from America, and his realisation that he could only function happily as an independent film-maker, a one-man band; by 1964, he had filmed Othello, which took three years to complete, Mr Arkadin, the biggest conundrum in his output, and his masterpiece Chimes at Midnight, as well as Touch of Evil, his sole return to Hollywood and, like all too many of his films, wrested from his grasp and re-edited. Along the way he made inroads into the fledgling medium of television and a number of stage plays, including Moby-Dick, considered by theatre historians to be one of the seminal productions of the century. Meanwhile, his private life was as dramatic as his professional life. The book shows what it was like to be around Welles, and, with a precision rarely attempted before, what it was like to be him, in which lies the answer to the old riddle: whatever happened to Orson Welles?

Shooting the Actor

Shooting the Actor

Author: Simon Callow Format: eBook Release Date: 10/03/2015

When Simon Callow met the Yugoslav film director Dusan Makavejev to discuss his new film Manifesto, they both greatly looked forward to working together. Only months later the two were barely speaking.A companion volume to Being An Actor, Shooting the Actor is a funny and disastrous account of a film made in the former Yugoslavia, together with new essays on film and film acting including Callow's work in Amadeus and Four Weddings and a Funeral.Shooting the Actor reveals more about the process of filmmaking and the highly complex nature of the role of both actor and director than any formal guide could ever provide.

Oscar Wilde and his Circle

Oscar Wilde and his Circle

Author: Simon Callow Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/10/2013

One of literature's most witty personalities, Oscar Wilde captivated London society. In this perceptive appraisal of Wilde and those around him - including Aubrey Beardsley, Sir Max Beerbohm and Wilde's lover, Lord Alfred Douglas (`Bosie') - Simon Callow captures the spirit of one of Britain's most feted, but ultimately tragic literary figures.

Charles Laughton A Difficult Actor

Charles Laughton A Difficult Actor

Author: Simon Callow Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/11/2012

The creator of the Hunchback of Notre Dame, Henry VIII and Captain Bligh, Charles Laughton's career spans 50 films and 40 stage roles. This entralling biography follows him from his parents' hotel in Scarborough to his climactic assumption of the role of King Lear in Statford at the end of his life. Along the way we meet a galaxy of Hollywood greats - from Korda, Hitchcock and Billy WIlder to Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe. We also discover a hugely talented and complex man - a legend in his own lifetime who nonetheless counted himself a failure.

Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World

Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World

Author: Simon Callow Format: eBook Release Date: 07/08/2012

A short biography of Charles Dickens by acclaimed actor and writer Simon Callow that offers a fresh perspective on one of the greatest novelists in the English language in a lively, highly readable account. "e;It has all the gusto that a popular biography of Dickensa man who ';could do nothing by halves'should possess. . . .The best biography for Dickens newcomers and a wonderful read for all."e;Library JournalDickens was one of the first true celebrity authors. Thousands of fans in Britain and America eagerly awaited each new installment of his stories and flocked to see him on his legendary speaking tours. Not only did he create an incredible cast of characters on the page, but he was also a dazzling mimic and storyteller, and he wrote, stage-managed, and acted in plays for the public. Throughout his life, from his childhood performances in pubs to his legendarily powerful reading tours, Dickens was fanatical about the stage. Callow reveals Dickens's genius on and off the page and offers a compelling insight into a life that was driven as much by performance and showmanship as by literature.

Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World

Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World

Author: Simon Callow Format: eBook Release Date: 02/02/2012

A short life of Dickens which celebrates the impact of the theatre on his life and workAcclaimed actor and writer Simon Callow captures the essence of Charles Dickens in a sparkling biography that explores the central importance of the theatre to the life of the greatest storyteller in the English language. From his early years as a child entertainer in Portsmouth to his reluctant retirement from 'these garish lights' just before his death, Dickens was obsessed with the stage. Not only was he a dazzling mimic who wrote, acted in and stage-managed plays, all with fanatical perfectionism; as a writer he was a compulsive performer, whose very imagination was theatrical, both in terms of plot devices and construction of character. Like many actors, Dickens felt the need to be completed by contact with his audience. He was the original 'celebrity' author, who attracted thousands of adoring fans to his readings in Britain and across the Atlantic, in which he gave voice to his unforgettable cast of characters. In Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World, Callow brings his own unique insight to a life driven by performance and showmanship. He reveals an exuberant and irrepressible talent, whose 'inimitable' wit and personality crackle off the page.

My Life in Pieces An Alternative Autobiography

My Life in Pieces An Alternative Autobiography

Author: Simon Callow Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/08/2011

In My Life in Pieces, Simon Callow recaptures the multifarious people, productions and events which have fed into his lifeblood and left their indelible mark. Starting with his first ever visit to the theatre - Peter Pan - he takes us through a somewhat chaotic boyhood in southern Africa and South London, an aborted university career, a testing time at drama school and on to an acting career that has encompassed roles in the West End and stand-out character parts in films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral. Callow writes with his customary perceptiveness, wit and flair about the remarkable people he has encountered in the course of his career: Laurence Olivier, Paul Scofield and Michael Gambon at the National Theatre; then Alec Guinness, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson, David Hare, Simon Gray and Richard Eyre, among others. This being an alternative autobiography, he also writes about figures he did not meet but whose influence was vital to a full understanding of his craft: figures such as Stanislavsky and Michael Chekhov, Nureyev and Cocteau, Laughton and Welles. There are also other, not-quite-legit performers like Tony Hancock, Tommy Cooper and Frankie Howerd. Also included are accounts of his life as a solo performer, most notably as Charles Dickens. The result is a heartening, instructive and utterly beguiling book which, in tracing Simon Callow's own 'sentimental education', goes to show how rich and nourishing a life can be had in and around the theatre.

My Life in Pieces An Alternative Autobiography

My Life in Pieces An Alternative Autobiography

Author: Simon Callow Format: Hardback Release Date: 03/06/2010

Drawing on a lifetime of writing about theatre and film, Callow takes us behind the curtain and behind the camera to introduce us to the performers and performances that have shaped him as an actor and as a public persona. They include giants like Orson Welles, Charles Dickens, Tommy Cooper, Charles Laughton and Laurence Olivier. The book reconstructs the highlights of his career, including his breakthrough roles as the foul-mouthed Mozart in Amadeus , and as Reverend Beebe in the film of A Room With a View , at the personal insistence of producer Ismail Merchant. The pieces are interspersed with commentaries on pantomime, nudity, homosexuality, and the many other aspects of a rich and varied life, both on and off the stage.

Love is Where it Falls

Love is Where it Falls

Author: Simon Callow Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/12/2006

When Simon Callow first met Peggy Ramsay he could hardly have suspected that his encounter with the near-legendary play agent would blossom into passionate love. There was the age difference for one thing: Callow was barely 30, Peggy was in her seventies. And then there was Aziz, the handsome but mercurial Egyptian with whom Callow was already deeply in love...For the next eleven years, until her death in 1991, Peggy and Callow conducted their intensely exhilarating liaison in meetings and passionately unbridled letters. In this extraordinarily revealing memoir, Simon Callow tells the story of their unusual relationship in a book that captures the fiery intensity and reckless gestures, the bliss and the tenderness, as well as the anguish, of their love. A love which during its compulsive course was to reverberate with tragedy. In Love Is Where It Falls , Callow paints a memorable portrait of a fascinating woman with the most graceful of touches. It is by turns moving, inspiring, funny, and heartbreaking - and a courageously intimate tribute.

Shooting The Actor

Shooting The Actor

Author: Simon Callow Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/11/2004

A companion volume to Being an Actor, Callow's classic text about the experience of acting in the theatre, Shooting the Actor reveals the truth about film acting. The book describes his film work, from Amadeus to Four Weddings and a Funeral, from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls to Shakespeare in Love. Its centrepiece is a hilarious and sometimes agonising account of the making of Manifesto, shot in the former Yugoslavia. When Callow first met the film's director Dusan Makavejev to discuss the movie, they both got on famously. Months later the two were barely speaking. Insightful and always entertaining, Shooting the Actor reveals more than any formal guide could about the process of film-making and the highly complex nature of being both actor and director.

Being An Actor

Being An Actor

Author: Simon Callow Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/11/2004

Few actors are more eloquent, honest or entertaining about their life and their profession than Simon Callow. Being an Actor traces his stage journey from the letter he wrote to Laurence Olivier that led him to his first job, to his triumph as Mozart in the original production of Amadeus. This new edition continues to tell the story of his past two decades onstage. Callow discusses his occasionally ambivalent yet always passionate feelings about both film and theatre, conflicting sentiments partially resolved by his acclaimed return to the stage with his solo performances in The Importance of Being Oscar and The Mystery of Charles Dickens, seen in the West End and on Broadway in 2002. Being an Actor is a guide not only to the profession but also to the intricacies of the art, told with wit, candour, and irrepressible verve by one if the great figures of the stage.

Henry IV, Part II Actors on Shakespeare

Henry IV, Part II Actors on Shakespeare

Author: Simon Callow Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/07/2003

Simon Callow, bestselling author and acclaimed stage and screen actor, immerses himself in Henry IV once more, now concentrating on Part II with an afterword on the death of Falstaff. Together with his previous book in this series, Callow provides an incomparable study of the art of the play and the craft of the actor.

Henry IV (Falstaff) Actors on Shakespeare

Henry IV (Falstaff) Actors on Shakespeare

Author: Simon Callow Format: Paperback Release Date: 17/06/2002

Simon Callow, best-selling author and acclaimed stage and screen actor, immerses himself in Henry IV, Part I and brings to life not only Falstaff but the entire play in a vividly drawn, in-depth consideration of the actor's craft and the art of the play. Shakespeare's work is important in shaping our language and character. The enduring popularity and success of Shakespearean productions in theatre and on film is a truly international and cross-cultural phenomenon. The aim of the Actors on Shakespeare series is to provide a unique and accessible contemporary commentary to each of the plays via top-class actors who have performed in them.

Orson Welles on Shakespeare The W.P.A. and Mercury Theatre Playscripts

Orson Welles on Shakespeare The W.P.A. and Mercury Theatre Playscripts

Author: Simon Callow Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/10/2001

This volume is the only publication available of the fully annotated playscripts of Wells' W.P.A Federal Theatre Project and Mercury Theatre adaptations, including the Voodoo Macbeth, the modern-dress Julius Caesar and Welles' compilation of history plays, Five Kings.

The Night of the Hunter

The Night of the Hunter

Author: Simon Callow Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/12/2000

This is an examination of The Night of the Hunter , Charles Laughton's only outing as a film director. It looks at the symbolism of the piece, at Willa, her throat cut sitting in the Model-T Ford, and the Preacher, a silhouetted threat on the horizon.

Shakespeare on Love A Personal Selection by Simon Callow

Shakespeare on Love A Personal Selection by Simon Callow

Author: Simon Callow Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/04/2000

A selection of Shakespeare's work focusing on the theme of love. From the passion of the sonnets, the poignant balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet to the bewitched love scene between Titania and Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, this anthology cuts across age and class, taboo and prohibition.

Orson Welles, Volume 2 Hello Americans

Orson Welles, Volume 2 Hello Americans

Author: Simon Callow Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/12/1999

The reason for the decline of Orson Welles's career is a hotly debated issue, but decline it certainly did. When Citizen Kane, his first film, opened in 1941, Welles was universally acclaimed as the most audacious filmmaker alive. But instead of marking the beginning of a triumphant career in Hollywood, the film still regularly voted the greatest ever made proved to be an exception in Welles's life and work. In 1947 Welles left America for Europe and lived for the best part of twenty years in self-imposed exile. Welles himself famously quipped 'I started at the top and worked my way down' - the second volume of Simon Callow's compelling biography tells the story of that complex and protracted descent from grace.

Orson Welles, Volume 1 The Road to Xanadu

Orson Welles, Volume 1 The Road to Xanadu

Author: Simon Callow Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/02/1996

A brilliant biography of the young Orson Welles, from his prodigious childhood and youth, his triumphs with the Mercury Theatre, to the making of Citizen Kane. Vivid, vastly entertaining, this is the definitive Welles biography.

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