Shakespeare by McBean

Shakespeare by McBean


Shakespeare by McBean collects 300 images, many never before published, taken by the renowned photographer Angus McBean. Incorporating images from every one of Shakespeare’s plays performed at the RSC, with some from the Old Vic, between the years 1945-62, it is a veritable who’s who of the British stage. Richard Burton, Vivien Leigh, Robert Donat, Alec Guiness, Michael Redgrave, Peggy Ashcroft, Laurence Olivier, Edith Evans, Paul Scofield, Diana Rigg, Anthony Quayle, Charles Laughton, John Gielgud, Peter O’Toole and Dorothy Tutin are just some of the names that appear.

Angus McBean was an exceptional talent, whether he was transforming the photography of rehearsals, inspiring the Beatles, or entertaining his admireres with his light-hearted espousal of surrealism in portraiture. In a career lasting half a century his influence can be seen in everything from advertising to pop culture.

Adrian Woodhouse is a writer and journalist. Previous books include Vivien Leigh: A Love Affair in Camera (1989) and Angus McBean: Facemaker (2006)


Dimensions 24 cm x 30.5 cm

Author: Adrian Woodhouse
Contributor: Gregory Doran
Publisher: Manchester University Press, 2018
ISBN 9781526127013
234 pages

‘Photographer Angus McBean produced glorious portraits of vivien Leigh, Audrey Hepburn, Margaret Lockwood, Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson and many other iconic actors. Mixing stylised romanticism with surrealism, he created imaginative, playful images where dramatic lighting merged with multiple exposure. Woodhouse’s gorgeous book brings together his photographs of every Shakespeare play – 160 productions in all, 90 of them at Stratford’s Memorial Theatre. It demonstrates how his training in mask making and fascination with the dismembered iconography of surrealism combined with careful sculpting with light and shade to offer a unique approach to photographic montage. The result is a study of illusion and poise, of changing modes of production and acting style, and of how our readings of the Bard are framed by those who have photographed his work into posterity.’

Maria Delgado,

University of London, Times Higher Education (May 2019)