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Books By Sheila Hancock
'I want to be Sheila Hancock when I grow up' Lorraine Kelly
'Wise, witty, kind and true' – Sunday Times
'A sparkling memoir as funny and insightful as it's moving' – Daily Mail
'A captivating memoir' – Mail on Sunday
A gloriously irreverent memoir from the frontline of old age - by the Sunday Times-bestselling author and legendary actor
Sheila Hancock looked like she was managing old age. She had weathered and even thrived in widowhood, taking on acting roles that would have been demanding for a woman half her age. She had energy, friends, a devoted family, a lovely home. She could still remember her lines.
So why, at 89, having sailed past supposedly disturbing milestones – 50, 70 even 80 – without a qualm, did she suddenly feel so furious? Shocking diagnoses, Brexit and bereavement seemed to knock her from every quarter. And that was before lockdown.
Home alone, classified as 'extremely vulnerable', she finds herself yelling at the TV and talking to the pigeons. But she can at least take a good long look at life – her work and family, her beliefs (many of them the legacy of her wartime childhood) and, uncomfortable as it might be to face, her future.
In Old Rage, one of Britain's best loved actors opens up about her ninth decade. Funny, feisty, honest, she makes for brilliant company as she talks about her life as a daughter, a sister, a mother, a widow, an actor, a friend and looks at a world so different from the wartime world of her childhood. And yet – despite age, despite rage – she finds there are always reasons for joy.
'The much-loved actor candidly shares the fear, joy and frustration she has found in her ninth decade' - Guardian, Books of the Year 2022
'Sheila Hancock reflects upon her life and career with all the winning candour and warm-heartedness we have come to expect from the legendary actress' - Waterstones
When John Thaw, star of The Sweeney and Inspector Morse, died from cancer in 2002, a nation lost one of its finest actors and Sheila Hancock lost a beloved husband. In this unique double biography she chronicles their lives - personal and professional, together and apart.
John Thaw was born in Manchester, the son of a lorry driver. When he arrived at RADA on a scholarship he felt an outsider. In fact his timing was perfect: it was the sixties and television was beginning to make its mark. With his roles in Z-Cars and The Sweeney, fame came quickly. But it was John's role as Morse that made him an icon. In 1974 he married Sheila Hancock, with whom he shared a working-class background and a RADA education. Sheila was already the star of the TV series The Rag Trade and went on to become the first woman artistic director at the RSC. Theirs was a sometimes turbulent, always passionate relationship, and in this remarkable book Sheila describes their love - weathering overwork and the pressures of celebrity, drink and cancer - with honesty and piercing intelligence, and evokes two lives lived to the utmost.
In The Two of Us Sheila Hancock relived her life with John Thaw - years packed with love and family, work and houses, delight and despair. And then she looked ahead. What next? Gardening, grannying and grumbling, while they all had their pleasures, weren't going to fill the aching void that John had left.
'Live adventurously', a piece of Quaker advice, was hovering in her mind. So, putting her and John's much-loved house in France on the market - too many memories - she embarked, instead, on a series of journeys. She tried holidaying alone, contending with invisibility and budget flights. She tried travelling in a group, but the questions she wanted to ask were never the ones the guide wanted to answer. She tried relaxing - harder than you might think. Finally, heading out of her comfort zone, she found her travels and new discoveries led her back to her past: to consider her generation - the last to experience the Second World War - and the kind of person it made her.
Just Me is a book about moving on, but it is also about looking back, and looking anew. Sheila, whether facing down burglars and easyJet staff (cross her at your peril) or making friends with waiters and taxi drivers, whether unearthing secrets in Budapest, getting arrested in Thailand, exulting in the art of Venice or mingling with the Mafia in Milan, is never less than stimulating company. Honest - because if you can't say what you think at seventy-five, when can you? - insightful and wonderfully down-to-earth, she is a woman seizing the future with wit, gusto and curiosity - on her own.