Margaret Rutherford was without a doubt one of Britain’s best-loved comic actresses. But behind the kindly, serene front Rutherford presented to the world lay a life of trauma and repeated nervous breakdown – the legacy of the legacy of family tragedy that saw her father murder her grandfather during a bout of mental illness and her depressive mother later kill herself. Andy Merriman’s acclaimed biography intrigued and shocked readers with these revelations when it was published in hardback. Now out in paperback, it is also a portrait of one of our most individual actresses. Rutherford appeared in such thoroughly English classics as Blithe Spirit, The importance of Being Earnest, Passport to Pimlico and I’m All Right, Jack! But above all she was Miss Marple, in four films – and entirely created for the screen the role of Agatha Christie’s elderly and fearless private detective that subsequent actresses like Joan Hickson and Geraldine McEwan have continued. Rutherford first played Miss Marple at the age of 70, and insisted on wearing her own clothes to feel right in the part. Above all, this was a vulnerable woman whom no-one failed to like and respect, notable again and again for quiet acts of kindness, whose life story has great appeal to everyone who appreciates both classic English comedy and simple human decency.
Andy Merriman is the author of several books, including Greasepaint and Cordite, the story of the young entertainers sent out to war to dance and sing, Margaret Rutherford: Dreadnought with Good Manners, Hattie, the authorised biography of Hattie Jacques, and A Minor Adjustment, a book about his daughter who has Down’s syndrome. Andy, who writes for radio and television, lives in London with his wife and three children.