Skip to main content Skip to Search Box
Summary Article: Redgrave, Vanessa
from Chambers Biographical Dictionary

1937-

♦ English actress

She was born in London, the eldest daughter of Sir Michael Redgrave and actress Rachel Kempson (1910-2003). After studying at the Central School of Speech and Drama (1954-57), she made her professional debut at the Frinton Summer Theatre (1957) and her London stage debut opposite her father in A Touch of the Sun (1958). She joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 1960s. Her first film, Behind the Mask (1958), was followed by many others, notably Morgan, a Suitable Case for Treatment and Blow-Up (both 1966). Active in several media, she has proved herself one of the most distinguished performers of her generation. A stage performer of conviction and integrity, her work in the theatre includes The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1966), The Lady from the Sea (1976-77) and Orpheus Descending (1988-89). She received Academy Award nominations for Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966), Isadora (1968), Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), The Bostonians (1984) and Howards End (1992) and won the Best Supporting Actress award for Julia (1977). On television she won an Emmy for Playing for Time (1980). Other film appearances include Prick Up Your Ears (1987), Mission Impossible (1996), The Cradle Will Rock (1999) and Atonement (2007). She also appeared, alongside her daughter Joely Richardson, in the US television series Nip/Tuck (2003-04). She won a Tony award for her Broadway performance in Long Day's Journey into Night (2003) and an Ibsen Centennial award for her work as an interpreter of the Norwegian playwright's work. She is well known for her active support of left-wing and humanitarian causes.

© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

Related Articles


Full text Article Redgrave, Vanessa (1937 - )
The Cambridge Guide to Theatre

Her Rosalind in Michael Elliot 's production of As You Like It (1961) at Stratford-upon-Avon was acclaimed, and she...

Full text Article Redgrave, Vanessa (1937- )
Chambers Film Factfinder

English, born in London. The eldest daughter of Michael Redgrave and actress Rachel Kempson, she trained at London's Central School of Speech...

Full text Article Redgrave, Vanessa (1937)
The Penguin Biographical Dictionary of Women

Acclaimed as one of the leading actresses of our time, Vanessa Redgrave has also earned a reputation for her outspoken political...

See more from Credo