Becoming a member of the LoveReading community is free.

No catches, no fine print just unadulterated book loving, with your favourite books saved to your own digital bookshelf.

New members get entered into our monthly draw to win £100 to spend in your local bookshop Plus lots lots more…

Find out more


by Philip Ziegler

Olivier Synopsis

Hollywood superstar; Oscar-winning director; greatest stage actor of the twentieth century. His era abounded in greats - Gielgud, Richardson, Guinness, Burton, O'Toole - but none could challenge Laurence Olivier's range and power. By the 1940s he had achieved international stardom. His affair with Vivien Leigh led to a marriage as glamorous and as tragic as any in Hollywood history. He was as accomplished a director as he was a leading man: his three Shakespearian adaptations are among the most memorable ever filmed. Off-stage, Olivier was the most extravagant of characters: generous, yet almost insanely jealous of those few contemporaries whom he deemed to be his rivals; charming but with a ferocious temper. With access to more than fifty hours of candid, unpublished interviews, Philip Ziegler ensures that Olivier's true character - at its most undisguised - shines through as never before.

The Good Book Guide Review

Laurence Olivier was a theatrical force of nature, often quoted as the greatest stage actor of the 20th century. There have been copious biographies of Olivier, but Ziegler’s comprehensive study is the first to draw upon over fifty hours of previously unpublished tapes, reminiscences straight from the actor’s mouth. It was as the first director of the National Theatre that Olivier found perhaps one of his finest hours, guiding the fledgling theatre towards its current status as a beacon of dramatic excellence. Olivier possessed phenomenal power and versatility, portraying everything from Othello to ‘The Entertainer’, Heathcliff to Richard III, and his sheer charisma bursts forth from every page.

Olivier Press Reviews

'Philip's book is the Larry I knew' Tarquin Olivier. * Tarquin Olivier * 'Philip Ziegler's splendid biography confirms the contention that Lord Olivier OM is as great a figure in the history of the English theatre as David Garrick or Sir Henry Irving' Economist. * Economist * 'Without adulation, sentimentality and or sneer, layer by layer as the 82 years of Olivier's life flow by Ziegler painstakingly uncovers a portrait of a real man. It is enthralling. I took it on holiday and could hardly bear to finish it ... tremendous' Libby Purves, The Times. * The Times * 'An elegant and increasingly compelling book' Simon Callow, Guardian. * Guardian * 'A triumph ... It succeeds, as far as is humanly possible, in bringing alive on the page Olivier's magnetic theatrical presence, which those who saw him act will never forget' John Carey, Sunday Times. * Sunday Times *

Book Information

ISBN: 9781782067887
Publication date: 4th September 2014
Author: Philip Ziegler
Publisher: MacLehose Press an imprint of Quercus Publishing
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 464 pages
Categories: Biography: arts & entertainment, Theatre studies, Films, cinema, Individual actors & performers,

About Philip Ziegler

Philip Ziegler was a diplomat before becoming an editorial director at the publishers William Collins. His many books include acclaimed biographies of Laurence Olivier, William IV, Lady Diana Cooper, Lord Mountbatten and Harold Wilson, as well as the classic history of the Black Death.

More About Philip Ziegler

More Books By Philip Ziegler

Cover for Between the Wars 1919-1939 by Philip Ziegler
View All Books By Philip Ziegler

Share this book