"John Gielgud has no place in the history of twentieth-century British theatre for the simple reason that he was that history. In a career spanning almost eighty years on stage and screen, radio and television, he effectively reinvented Shakespeare for the modern stage; he was the first great Hamlet of our time; with his brother Val he virtually created the BBC radio drama; decades before the founding of the National Theatre or the RSC, he pioneered the idea of a resident classical company in the West End. He made stars of Alec Guinness and Paul Scofield as well as hundreds of other actors, directors and designers; from Peter Brook to Peter Greenaway, he worked with all the revolutionary artists of his time." "The great-nephew of Ellen Terry, John was the bridge from the nineteenth to the twenty-first century, and he was the founder and last survivor of a group of classical actors (Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, Michael Redgrave, Peggy Ashcroft, Sybil Thorndike and Edith Evans) such as the world had never seen and will never see again." "Twelve years before his death, John Gielgud invited Sheridan Morley to become his only authorised biographer, handing over to him letters and diaries and personal files. In addition to this huge archive, Morley has interviewed more than two hundred of John's colleagues, friends, rivals and critics to form a fully rounded and detailed portrait of the great man. Alongside hitherto unpublished views from contemporaries such as Laurence Olivier and Ralph Richardson, Morley fully researches the events surrounding John's 1953 arrest for homosexual soliciting - an incident that helped eventually change the law in Britain."--BOOK JACKET.