Hoylake, Merseyside, 9 May 1936.
Attended West Kirby County Grammar School for Girls; Royal Academy of
Dramatic Art, London.
Married Roy Hodges (divorced), son: Daniel.
1957—London debut in
All Kinds of Men
; 1963—film debut in
This Sporting Life
; 1964—critically acclaimed role in
for Royal Shakespeare Company, London; also made Broadway debut in this
role, and played it in film; 1971—in TV mini-series
; 1974—on stage as
; from 1970s—continues to work in films and on stage;
1983—joined United British Artists production group; 1985—on
;1988—on stage in
as Lady Macbeth; 1990—selected as parliamentary candidate for the
Labour Party, lost election; 1992—elected to House of Commons for
the Labour Party, representing Hampstead and Highgate;
1997–1999—Transportation Minister in the British Government;
announced her retirement from acting.
Best Actress, Academy Award, National Society of Film Critics Award for
Best Actress, Best Actress award, from the New York Film Critics, and D.
W. Griffith Award from the National Board of Review, for
Women in Love
, 1970; two Emmy awards for performances in
, 1971; Etoile de Cristal, 1972; Best Actress, British Academy, and David
Di Donatello award (Italy), for
Sunday, Bloody Sunday
, 1971; Best Actress, Academy Award, for
A Touch of Class
, 1973; Commander, Order of the British Empire, 1978; D. W. Griffith Award
from National Board of Review for Best Actress, and Best Actress Award,
New York Film Critics, for
Crouch Associates, 59 Frith Street, London W1, England.
Films as Actresses:
This Sporting Life (Anderson) (bit role)
Benefit of the Doubt (Whitehead) (documentary appearance in on-stage role)
Marat/Sade (Brook) (as Charlotte Corday)
Tell Me Lies (Brook); Negatives (Medak) (as Vivien)
Women in Love (Russell) (as Gudrun Brangwen)
The Music Lovers (Russell) (as Nina Milyukova); Sunday, Bloody Sunday (Schlesinger) (as Alex Greville); Mary, Queen of Scots (Jarrott) (as Elizabeth I); The Boy Friend (Russell) (as Rita)
Triple Echo (Apted) (as Alice); A Bequest to the Nation ( The Nelson Affair ) (Jones) (as Emma Hamilton); A Touch of Class (Frank) (as Vicki Allessio); Il soriso del grande tentatore ( The Tempter ; The Devil Is a Woman ) (Damiani) (as Sister Geraldine)
The Maids (Miles) (as Solange)
The Romantic Englishwoman (Losey) (as Elizabeth Fielding); Hedda (Nunn) (title role)
The Incredible Sarah (Fleischer) (as Sarah Bernhardt); Nasty Habits (Lindsay-Hogg) (as Alexandra)
House Calls (Zieff) (as Ann Atkinson); Stevie (Enders) (ti tle role)
Lost and Found (Frank) (as Tricia); The Class of Miss MacMichael (Narizzano) (as Conor MacMichael); Build Me a World (Gane—doc) (as narrator)
Hopscotch (Neame) (as Isobel von Schmidt); Health (Altman)
Stop Polio (Keefe—doc) (as narrator); The Patricia Neal Story (Page and Harvey—for TV) (title role)
The Return of the Soldier (Bridges) (as Margaret); Giro City (Karl Francis—for TV) (as Sophie)
And Nothing but the Truth (Francis); Sakharov (Gold—for TV) (as Elena Bonner)
Turtle Diary (Irvin) (as Nearer)
Man-Made Famine (Sauvageot)
Beyond Therapy (Altman) (as Charlotte); Business as Usual (Barrett) (as Babs Flynn)
Salome's Last Dance (Russell) (as Herodias/Lady Alice); Strange Interlude (Wise)
The Rainbow (Russell) (as Anna Brangwen); King of the Wind (Duffell) (as Queen Caroline)
Doombeach (Finbow) (as Miss); Open Space: Death on Delivery (TV doc)
The Castle (Foreman); A Murder of Quality (Millar); The House of Bernarda Alba (for TV)
Secret Life of Sir Arnold Bax (Russell—for TV) (as Harriet Cohen)
Jerry Springer on Sunday (as herself—for TV)
By JACKSON: articles—
"One-Take Jackson," interview with G. Gow, in Films and Filming (London), January 1977.
Interviews, in Photoplay (London), May 1981 and March 1983.
Interview, in Time Out (London), 29 October 1982.
Interview with Hal Rubenstein, in Interview , May 1988.
On JACKSON: books—
Nathan, David, Glenda Jackson , Tunbridge Wells, Kent, 1984.
Woodward, Ian, Glenda Jackson: A Study in Fire and Ice , London, 1985.
On JACKSON: articles—
Current Biography 1971 , New York, 1971.
Spunner, S., and P. Longmore, "Glenda Jackson," in Cinema Papers (Melbourne), July-August 1975.
Ecran (Paris), March 1978.
Drew, Bernard, "Glenda Jackson," in The Movie Star , edited by Elisabeth Weis, New York, 1981.
Silvester, Christopher, "Labour Pains," in Connoisseur , July 1991.
Gam, Rita, "Enter Glenda, State Left," in World Monitor: The Christian Science Monitor Monthly , July 1992.
Radio Times (London), 18 July 1992.
* * *
A stage-trained British actress, Glenda Jackson worked for the Royal Shakespeare Company and for Peter Brook before entering films. Her first important film performance was the re-creation of her stage role in Brook's filming of his own stage production of the Peter Weiss play The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade ( Marat/Sade ). Though not comprehensively distributed, the film excited critics in part because of Jackson's bold performance as the narcoleptic inmate. Critical acclaim and an Academy Award came to her in 1970 for her performance as Gudrun in Ken Russell's adaptation of D. H. Lawrence's Women in Love . In a cold and often repellent interpretation, Jackson created a Gudrun who is sexually driven, intelligent, lyrical, and aloof.
Jackson is noted for her full and expressive voice, her theatrical diction, and performances based less on naturalistic precepts than a declamatory theatrical tradition. Her face, though sometimes charged with eroticism, is by no means conventionally attractive, nor is her body, often bared in her films. Her dark, probing eyes are vaguely unsettling, and her mannerisms of touching her tongue to her teeth and curling her lips are both erotic and unpleasant. Her presence, which is considerable, demands attention and attracts the eye; her assured self-consciousness about her technique helps her to create a variety of characterizations. She followed her performance in Women in Love by starring in another Russell film, The Music Lovers , playing Tchaikovsky's nymphomaniac wife. It was a powerful, allout performance in a film of such visual and sexual excess that many critics recoiled. Jackson subsequently made a small industry of playing Queen Elizabeth, first in Elizabeth R , a series for British television which was more responsible than anything else for gaining Jackson her American stardom, and then in the film Mary, Queen of Scots , opposite Vanessa Redgrave as Mary. The two women gave extraordinary and completely different kinds of performances: Jackson's stylized and mannered, Redgrave's more naturalistic and lyrical—a contrast that perfectly expressed the differences between the characters.
The remainder of Jackson's film roles are noteworthy for their variety: as a woman who begins an affair with a married man in an American screwball comedy, A Touch of Class , in which Jackson proved surprisingly adept at repartee and slapstick, and for which she won her second Academy Award; as Hedda Gabler in the virtually undistributed Hedda , for which Jackson adapted her controversial stage performance and was given an Academy Award nomination; as poet Stevie Smith in Stevie , also based on a stage role, which presented a wry and much warmer Jackson than had heretofore been seen; as the contemporary heroine of John Schelsinger's Sunday, Bloody Sunday , an examination of a love triangle with a bisexual apex, for which Jackson received another Academy Award nomination; as a conniving and conspiratorial nun patterned after Richard Nixon in the Watergate-inspired comedy, Nasty Habits ; as Sarah Bernhardt in the underrated The Incredible Sarah , in which Jackson was also given the opportunity to portray Bernhardt acting in her most famous roles, including Joan of Arc and Camille; as an Adlai-Stevenson-inspired, health faddist and possible transsexual, in Robert Altman's comedy Health ; and as the repressed heroine in the odd, Harold Pinter-written love story, Turtle Diary .
Jackson's reputation as a film actress has declined somewhat in recent years, with the critical judgment that her screen persona remains unusually cold, whatever the role, and that her technique, from film to film, tends to be too unvarying. Unlike, say, Meryl Streep, who is the master of accents, Jackson has been unwilling, for example, to adjust her declamatory vocal technique—even in otherwise powerful, biographical performances in The Patricia Neal Story and Sakharov (both for television), playing well-known women (from Kentucky and Russia) who sound not even vaguely like Jackson. And yet it must be noted that Jackson has garnered extraordinary notice for her stage work in this period, including raves for the 1985 Strange Interlude (which has been preserved on video for television) and fascination for her controversial 1988 stage performance as Lady Macbeth. Perhaps the truth is that Jackson has a strong understanding of her own strengths and weaknesses and therefore sees no need to push beyond them; if she has lost some of her passion for acting, she has found her passion for politics and social commitment growing ever greater. Certainly, this political passion has been present as far back as her earliest, professional theatrical experiences (such as Peter Brook's anti-Vietnam play and film, Tell Me Lies). Clearly, Sakharov interested Jackson because playing Elena Bonner allowed her to make a statement about human rights; similarly, Business as Usual was a pro-labor, didactic drama that allowed Jackson to comment upon sexual harassment in Margaret Thatcher's England. Although Jackson made up with director Ken Russell, with whom she had had a falling out, to appear in Salome's Last Dance and, more notably, to appear in The Rainbow in the role of Anna Brangwen (the mother of Gudrun, the character she played in Women in Love ), Jackson has virtually retired from acting, since her election to a seat in the British House of Commons, representing a working-class neighborhood for the Labour Party.