Front Cover
Quercus Publishing, Sep 12, 2013 - Biography & Autobiography - 464 pages
7 Reviews

Hollywood superstar; Oscar-winning director; greatest stage actor of the twentieth century. The era abounded in great actors - 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.

And yet, at the height of his fame, he accepted what was no more than an administrator's wage to become the founding Director of the National Theatre. In 2013 the theatre celebrates its fiftieth anniversary; without Olivier's leadership it would never have achieved the status that it enjoys today.

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 With access to more than fifty hours of candid, unpublished interviews, Philip Ziegler ensures that Olivier's true character - at its most undisguised - shines through as never before.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Review: Olivier

User Review  - Kris - Goodreads

I adore Olivier and the history of 20th century English theater, but this book isn't what I'd recommend for a novice in that area of interest. It is obvious that much research and access to personal ... Read full review

Review: Olivier

User Review  - William - Goodreads

There is much that is impressive about this biography. Ziegler has done an enormous amount of research and this will probably long serve as the signature biography of Laurence Olivier. The reader gets ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (2013)

Philip Ziegler is one of Britain's leading biographers, who counts among his subjects two kings and four prime ministers. He has written for various newspapers and journals and was editorial director at Collins from 1979 to 1980.

Bibliographic information