Gielgud, John Arthur

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Gielgud, John Arthur


Born Apr. 14, 1904, in London. English actor and director.

Gielgud received his theatrical education in a private school and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. In 1921 he made his debut on the stage of the Old Vic Theater in London. He has appeared in almost all of the major roles of the Shakespearean repertoire. The actor won great fame for his portrayal of Hamlet in the theaters of London (Old Vic, 1929; New Theater, 1934; Queens Theater, 1937; Lyceum, 1939; and Haymarket, 1944). His other Shakespearean roles have included the title roles in Richard II, King Lear, and Julius Caesar. He has staged the following plays by Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet (1930), Much Ado About Nothing (1952), Twelfth Night (1955), King Lear (1955), and Hamlet (1963), among others. Gielgud’s work on roles in Chekhov’s plays has been of great importance in his creative work. These include Trofimov and Gaev in The Cherry Orchard, Treplev and Trigorin in The Seagull, Vershinin in Three Sisters, and the title role in Ivanov. Gielgud has also performed in plays by contemporary authors: Sebastian in Coward’s Nude With Violin, James Callifer in Greene’s The Potting Shed, and Julian in Albee’s Tiny Alice. In 1968 he performed the title role in Seneca’s Oedipus in a staging by the director P. Brook. He has been appearing in films since 1932.

Gielgud inherited and developed the best national traditions of English stage art, displaying talent in drama and tragedy. He was one of the first English theatrical personages to study the Stanislavskii method. Gielgud is a great master of the spoken word. He has been able to bring to the classical repertoire the attitude of the contemporary young generation, shaken by the contradictions of bourgeois society. In 1964 he toured the Soviet Union.


Early Stages. London, 1939.
Stage Directions. London [1965].
In Russian translation:
Na stsene i za kulisami: Pervye shagi na stsene. Leningrad, 1969.


Agate, J. Brief Chronicles: A Survey of the Plays of Shakespeare. … London, 1943.
Arthur, G. From Phelps to Gielgud. … London, 1936.
Gilder, R. John Gielgud’s Hamlet. London, 1937.
Sterne, R. L. John Gielgud Directs Richard Burton in Hamlet. London, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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